It’s time to lay off organized religion
Today I will state an opinion that may never before have been expressed in either of our local papers. It is with great trepidation that I put forth this essay for fear of grave reprisal. It is an opinion so outrageous that I run the risk of being banned, once again, from ever being published in these pages. Nevertheless, and God be my witness, here it is: Organized religion is a good thing.If this proposition is not obviously outrageous to you, you probably aren’t tuned into popular media where it’s mandatory to trace most of the World’s problems back to religion. It’s ironic that people who believe religion is for simpletons incapable of figuring out their own problems, can’t themselves figure out any other causes of war, disagreeable government policy, and differing opinions. I wish that these faith bashers would at least consider the possibility that wars are waged over money, elections are decided by the silent majority of poor history students rather than the sleepy majority of Sunday school graduates, and that if everybody had the same opinion, there wouldn’t be any. I think these worship-impaired pessimists are seeing the chalice as one billionth empty instead of realizing that it’s on the verge of overflowing. A countless number more people have benefited from organized religion than have ever been hurt by it. It’s possible that nobody has ever been injured by religion itself; for I will argue that every person who has suffered in the name of God, Allah, or Buddha, has suffered at the hand of man.You see, religion doesn’t kill people. Religion doesn’t encourage people to harm or kill other people. Religion is not capable of committing evil against mankind. Religion can’t take away our choices. Wicked people do these things. I understand where some people get confused, though. When perpetrators of malevolence cloaked in the veil of religion escape temporal justice, oftentimes there is nothing left to blame but religion, which by the way, can’t defend itself either.This is not sufficient reason to do away with religion. I needn’t remind anyone that, if you get rid of organized religion, wretched people have countless numbers of other ways to get you. Look at the bastards at Enron who tricked us into believing they were experts in finance. Some folks claim that organized religion is a crutch for the weak. So what? Who isn’t weak sometimes? Remember that head cold you had in February? Believe it or not, things can probably get even rougher than that! When you’re injured, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, what’s wrong with seeking help? Is it a crime to take the weight off a broken ankle to let it heal so that one day I can run free? It’s easy to dismiss my remedy if you don’t feel my pain. But, if it works for me, let it be.You know, as long as I’m getting a new job title every six months, my four-year-old is on the traveling team, and the local dealership has that new Audi in the color I like, I might not have to rely on organized religion. It’s easy to find spiritual comfort through all sorts of experiences I create for myself. When things are going well, weeks could pass before I acknowledge God, or anything else that has the potential to screw up my plans. That’s why I voluntarily wake up early every Sunday morning, get the kids ready for church, and stumble in at 8:00 for 7:30 mass. I want to keep my faith alive so it’s there when I need it. I want that structure.When the seas of life get rough, I want to grab onto something solid; something that I know will be there for me. I don’t want to rely on a pier that is held together by my cognizant thought that has betrayed me before. Organized religions are solid piers. They are bigger than any individual. They have been around for centuries and are fortified by the devotion of the unwashed masses. They offer solid foundations that have withstood innumerable personal crises over the centuries, not all of them mine. They have survived because they continue to offer relief and hope.Maybe for some, faith replaces critical thought. There is no denying that there are fools practicing religion. But, not in a greater proportion than in those who drive automobiles. Many more practitioners have had the temerity to actually critique critical thinking and discovered that reason has its limits. Religion offers the best explanation for things that can’t be explained, by anyone. But, let’s look past all of this general stuff and have a peek at what’s going on with organized religion right here, in our little town. Actually, “organized” may be a little generous. Far from having a dangerous influence on political issues, most religious groups have a hard enough time forming a committee to pick a color for the new rug in the entryway. They are truly prepared only when raising money, giving time, or praying (gasp!) for those in need. Most members don’t have enough time to be self-righteous. They’re busy with jobs, kids, and the office basketball pool. Other than their official time for The Uphill printed in the local paper, they don’t have much interest in trying to be better than you. They’re having a hard enough time trying to be better than they are. They don’t want to take away anyone’s choices. They’re trying like hell to make good ones for themselves. They are people who get together once a week, as much for the coffee and doughnuts afterwards as for the sermon many will daydream through; thinking about family and friends and how they are going to try again to be better people this week. Mostly, they’re just normal people who share common faith, attempting to make sense out of eternal life, together. They believe that they have found an ultimate purpose. Far from making them a threat, this allows them to place a lot less importance on things of this world.Now, think about this phenomenon occurring in countless cities, towns, and dirt-road settlements around the world; just regular people getting together to worship in peace. It’s not a recipe for power, control, or threats. When all these parts are summed, how could the world not be a whole lot better place? Roger Marolt prays that you will tell him what’s on your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org
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