Yesterday there was a protest downtown against the war the U.S. has declared on terrorism. Among the protesters there was a group of people holding signs declaring that, if we would only put our faith in Christ, we would be saved all this misery. This got me hopping mad. It is exactly this attitude that motivated the terrorists to action. Fanatics don’t just believe in Islam. It’s time for the Christian Right to stop pedaling their beliefs on the rest of the world. Believe whatever you want, but the notion that anyone who doesn’t believe in your god is a heathen that must be saved is exactly the reason we have over six thousand people dead in New York.
Fanatics are a dangerous breed, but before you nod your head “yes” and point your finger at someone of Arab descent please understand what a fanatic is. Christianity has certainly had its share. The current Protestant vs. Catholic skirmish in Ireland is the responsibility of fanatics. So were the Spanish Crusades, where everyone who wasn’t Catholic was labeled a heretic and killed. Fanatics often surface through the convenience of religion, but not always. Anyone convinced that they can “straighten out” gay people is a fanatic, as were the Freemen of Montana. So don’t go blaming Islam.
If you’re religious, it’s time for you to wake up and realize what your religion is. You’ve been duped. Religion is not about god. Religion is a set of rules to live by, written a long time ago when it was advantageous to follow those rules. For all practiced religions, those rules still apply today. There is a cookie cutter formula for all religious texts that goes something like this:
- They all contain great examples of the struggles facing the people of the time. When reading any religious text you must keep in perspective that it was written, in some cases, thousands of years ago, by human beings whose thoughts were molded by the social issues of the day. They are a great history of the life and times of people of the day.
- All religious texts lay down a set of rules. The rules were generally very advantageous for people to follow at the time. Religions that survive to this day define rules that describe a vague moral conduct that allows people to get along in peace.
- There is always a reward and punishment system. If you follow the religion’s rules, you are rewarded. If you don’t, you are punished. Rewards and punishments are dealt with at the time of your death, which is convenient because no one is around who can discount their validity. This also necessitates the need for some form of afterlife. There is no religion on the planet that doesn’t describe some form of afterlife, and no religion on the planet that has a reward system that is based in this lifetime.
- Finally, there are stories. Stories of miracles that people saw, stories of people being struck down by a god or gods for not following the rules. These stories are necessary because they provide an element of proof that the religion is real.
Balderdash, you say? Try it. Pick up any religious text for a religion that you don’t believe in and read it. The stories change, and in some cases the rules are different, but the same formula remains. Now think about your own religion. You will see that it follows the same formula.
Some will say that this is proof that God exists and has guided the writing of these texts. Maybe, but if so, then God exists in a way that is different from the way any of these texts describe, because all the texts are conflicting in their description of what “god” is. Does this mean that you should stop believing in your religion? No, not at all. Religion serves a purpose in society. It binds people together and provides a set of rules by which we can all get along. What you should do, is realize that people outside your religion are also bound together in similar ways. There is no concept of “my religion is right and you are going to hell because you believe differently”.
Once you accept that religion is just a code of conduct to live by, you realize that we are all part of the same religion – the Human Religion – and we can end all this conflict and war.