October 17, 2006

Blame Religion?

With the world in continued turmoil, and especially conflict between groups identified as Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, as well as Hindu, you hear a lot of people say something brilliant like "we should abolish all religions!" That's a sentiment that is getting a lot or airing these days, in private conversations, letters to editors, and so on. But, wait a minute; is there really any logic to this knee-jerk reaction to the violence we all abhor? Let's think about it more carefully.

All the major, world religions (ie. those numbering multi-millions of adherents) believe and teach peace among all people. At least they do in their sacred writings. Moreover, if you poll the members of any of these world religions, the ordinary believers almost overwhelmingly desire peace and detest war. Yet... we have the constant specter of 'sectarian violence' hanging over our heads almost everywhere in the world. So, what gives? In the Christian scriptures, Jesus projects himself to the 'great judgement' at the end of this age (Matt 7:22-23): 'Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'

Jesus could foresee exactly what has happened-- in the name of religion. There are plenty of shysters around who can talk up a good forgery of religion, complete with ostensible miracles. But in their heart, these people are not truly religious, not converted to the true principles of God, which basically and simply require putting others ahead of ourselves. These fakes are experts at playing the religion game, using it to make a lot of money and gain a lot of power and influence. These individuals are occasionally discovered and revealed in various Christian communities; but they scramble their way to the leadership of all the hierarchical religions. (Hierarchical religions are those that do not practice a 'priesthood of all believers;' rather, they have professional clergy who run the churches, synagogues, and mosques, and have a supporting cast of administrators.)

When you look back over the ages, it's those religious leaders who instigated violent policies toward selected groups, generally 'heretics'-- those who oppose them internally; and then, 'unbelievers'-- those who hold to other views. These men were Jewish insurgent leaders, Catholic Popes, and aggressive Imams. And it's men who must shoulder the blame, since the major religious institutions have almost invariably shut women out of their governing structures. But one may rightly ask: how have religious authorities succeeded in assuming control of the religious agenda, and turn the message of peace into an acceptable pretext for war? That's the real crux of the matter!

The answer is right in our own hands... we 'ordinary' members of the assorted religions. Or rather, in our minds, for we have allowed ambitious men to bamboozle the masses with fiery rhetoric, fallacious and unscrupulous use of holy scripture, and general psychological manipulation. And the masses fall for all these mind-traps for one, salient reason-- they are too complacent to do even minimum 'due diligence.' The masses of believers are too lazy to read the scriptures and exercise the prayerful study that would easily dispell much of the misinformation they are being fed. The result over the ages has been absolutely tragic.

Finally, anyone who has read my other essays touching on religion may demand to know why I now seem to be defending religion when I am normally so critical of it. The answer is that it's due to a weakness of the English language. I am distinctly opposed to 'religion' in the sense of an organization, an institution; this is a construct of human nonsense. However, I respect 'religion' in the sense of a science of the knowledge of God; a system for elevating the human spirit. So, there is no contradiction.

In my mind, the conclusion is clear: do not blame religion for the endless conflicts among humans; the real culprits are 'religions'... and their blind believers who will not think for themselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment