Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Why I "disdain" religion...

I've received more than a few comments regarding a statement in my most recent article that read (taken horribly out of context): "... I generally disdain organized religion ..."
Because of popular demand, I've written a brief explanation of the statement that, hopefully, will help those understand where I'm coming from.

Yes, it might seem like an ironic statement in the flow of the article. But it was written to make a point. I was hoping it goes to show that even if one is cynical about a certain institution, like I am regarding religion, that doesn't excuse the ridiculing of a person who subscribes to that belief system. The beauty of this country is that we are all free to worship (or to not worship) pretty much as we please. And that should be respected.

As for a little personal background that might help to explain the comment further, it isn't so much that I am against organized religion per se. That's painting with too broad a brush, something I try not to do and something that I really abhor. (Yes, that's a mea culpa.)

Religious groups do a lot of good in this world, and religious groups are some of the world's leaders in reaching out to the poor, comforting the sick, reaching for social justice. (If you must know, I was raised, Baptized, and Confirmed as a Catholic and have a big predisposition toward Liberation Theology).

But I have come to be skeptical of many organized religious groups (and people who call themselves religious) because I feel in many cases religion and faith have been hijacked in this country to achieve political purposes that are often in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus, who is the best role model I know of in terms of social justice and in teaching people how to be good to one another.

Religion and faith are personal, private, and deeply important. However, the politicization of religion in this country denigrates that sacredness and turns it into something to be exploited by the likes of Karl Rove. And that I truly do disdain.


Mobile Mama said...

Thank you for these thoughts. I find myself in similar, awkward positions--to recognize that my inclination toward social justice is rooted in Jesus' example and in Catholic doctrine and, at the same time, to feel cynical and, frankly, embarrassed by the organization. Due to scandals and political hijacking, it's difficult to explain to some of my very anti-religious friends that religion can be a source for good actions; and it's appalling to find that some religious friends assume my complete support (either you're with us or against us).

I like your assertion that religion and faith "are personal, private, and deeply important." Keep spreading the message.

The MacMurchy Fam said...

Jon - I'm so with you on the consumerizing of Christianity. That exploitation was met with unbridled ire by our Lord when He threw the rascals out of the temple. Shameless profiteering and exploitation of the Sacred is abhorrent to all who hold the Sacred dear, including Jesus Himself.
I think we'd be amazed at how few could even define "sacred."
I think you would really enjoy and identify with Donald Miller's books. He's one of Danielle's favorites also. And mine. Thinks out of the box but is a true Jesus-follower.
Thank you for being a Thinker. Rare indeed...

Erdos56 said...

Charitable giving is much higher among the religious than the lukewarm or non-religious. It is am emotional commitment and, alas, likely the same emotional commitment that causes fair minded people to hate others, or even to kill in the name of their religion. I'm actually more impressed with the growth of secularity in America and Europe over the past decades considering that core emotional religious response; it seems that Christianity (especially) is uniquely capable of co-existing with secular governance due to its various doctrines. The current political landscape is a blip in that regard, I think.