If your religion, your faith, helps you handle your addictions, brings you emotional balance and enables you to deal intelligently with life in healthy ways, then wonderful. I applaud you. If your religion/faith helps you live with a terminal illness or a lifelong disability with grace and courage and dignity, then you are an inspiration and someone I truly admire. If your religion/faith enables you to be understanding and compassionate of all people everywhere, if it creates a welcome in your heart for the oppressed and the forgotten and the different, if it makes you genuinely tolerant of other religions, if it moves you to social action, to deeds of kindness and generosity, then I respect you and will appreciate your commitment to your beliefs.
But if what you believe in a religious context makes you feel you are more than others, if it leaves you arrogant and removed from the rest of struggling humanity, if it gives you a sense of superiority, the idea that you have some special protection or shield or favored status that those who don’t share your beliefs don’t have, if it allows you to hate anyone, if it sanctions your prejudices and your bigotry, then I’m not interested in your God or your holy book, or your church or whatever else it is you promote as being true and righteous and sacred.
Our world today is actually being torn apart by religious fanatics. They aren’t all Islamic fundamentalists. Many of them are Western Christians, sanctimonious politicians, TV preachers, militant right wingers, birthers, people who say they love Jesus and hate our president, people who say God So Loved the World but who then dismiss and turn up their noses to Latinos and other minorities, people who just simply love and adore and worship the Bible but cannot stand gays and refuse to accept them, people who go to church every Sunday but have never once visited a soup kitchen or a prison or the mental ward of a hospital.
How did the teachings of Jesus, the wisdom of Muhammad, the great heart of Abraham and the intelligence of the ancient rabbis, become the basis for so much hatred, violence, short-sightedness, pretentiousness, smug indifference, absolutism, and raw pride all across the world today?
Religion, in all of its forms, none is excluded, has become a diminishing value in our world. And worse, it is now a force for so much wrong that its potential influence for any real good is all but lost.
© 2014 Timothy Moody