No, I’m not going to be advocating for any religion; this one is a rant about having respect for others’ beliefs.
It was prompted by a blog post I saw recently with a little parable about how spiritual people were superior to religious ones because spiritual people have never killed anyone in the name of their god (or gods).
I’ve seen faulty analysis like this for years, along with imagined intellectual superiority by atheists; mocking people for believing in any sort of higher power. The irony here is that I’d consider myself more spiritual than religious. HOWEVER, I do strongly believe in respecting others’ beliefs and opinions, at least in as much as they’re willing to show the same level of tolerance.
Before I really get going, let me first state that I know the people I’m going to complain about are NOT indicative or reflective of the entire groups they represent. They are, however, the most vocal minority within each of these groups.
The Faulty Logic:
Let’s start with the easiest point to dispute. I’ve heard everybody from atheists, to spiritual people, to western wannabe Buddhists and Neo-pagans / Wiccans talk about the evils of organized religion, and how they persecute and kill anyone who disagrees with them.
The most obvious point is one that seems to fly over the heads of everybody nowadays, be it political debate, social issues or this topic: Hypocrisy.
How does one blanket condemn entire groups of people for something and then presume to hold themself up as more enlightened and morally superior? At best, that’s the same sort of tribalism that’s being condemned. If one wants to prove the superiority of their path, the only TRUE way to do is by elevating their own thinking and actions, NOT by tearing down those of others. Yes, that goes for you religious folks too.
Reality is, NO group is perfect. Zero… NONE.
I’ve seen “spiritual” people lie, cheat, steal, use and abuse people, etc… Many of the global elites who have started more recent wars have described themselves as “spiritual” also. They do evil in the name of their own selfish, petty desires, which, ironically can be argued to be their gods in some cases.
Eastern religions are NOT pacifist either. Some of the most brutal, effective and battlefield tested martial arts come from their teachings. Shaolin monks were some of the greatest warriors in China and often conscripted by the Emperor as troops. That’s the past, and they’re evolving you say? True, but the same is true of all belief structures.
Atheists; well communists are the largest block of atheists. “Religion is the opiate of the masses” – Marx. Do I *REALLY* have to get into how many people that Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot massacred in the name of their better world?
I’ve seen “enlightened” Wiccans lecture others about karma and then freely throw literal curses over the slightest offense. Many of the loudest critics of how they’re perceived and treated by religious people, at least that I’ve met, have been pretty blindly prejudiced against religious folks themselves. They also forget the shoe used to be on the other foot with pagans enslaving, murdering and persecuting Christians, Jews and Muslims, and even each other.
It’s In The Past, and Sometimes Distorted:
It’s a bitter irony of modern times that nobody wants to be held accountable for their current actions, yet they’re quick to condemn others for actions in the far past.
Slavery and religious wars are two great examples of this on a macro level.
Politicians are quick to invoke God to try to lend themselves an aura of righteousness where none typically exists, but a true “holy war” probably hasn’t been fought since the crusades.
Speaking of the Crusades… This is a prime example of distorted history. The Crusades were not wars of aggression by Christians. They were wars to take back lands from invading Muslims, who had made it as far as Spain before being driven back to the Middle East.
No, I’m not condemning Muslims either. It was a different time, and I believe the wars were fought just as much over land and limited resources as they were ideology. The “different time” thing is the biggest factor here however. If you want to be judged by your own actions and NOT those of an ancestor, or somebody loosely connected to your past, then extend that same right to others.
Another historical distortion; the Salem Witch Trails. They went on for almost a year. Only 20 actually died directly from trials though. Another 5 died as an indirect result, and five more are questionable. The trials were about greedy people going after neighbor’s lands, other petty revenge schemes, and bratty girls looking for attention, more than they were about religion.
An Ugly Unspoken Truth:
Here’s another reality that just about everyone has seen if they’re willing to be honest:
Many, but not all, of the biggest critics of religion simply just want to be able to run amok as they see fit and not be told there are any consequences to their actions, nor any values they should adhere to.
These same people would freely complain about how corrupt capitalism has become (as an example) while fighting to remove any sort of moral or religious teachings from society.
How many of you know that for ages the Catholic church considered the charging of (financial) interest to be a serious sin for example? If that single idea were in place, would we have mega-corporations and evil giant banks controlling economies? Unfortunately, that idea went out the door about the time of the Protestant reformation.
My points here being that not all change is good, and that organized religion has had good and bad points or moments. ANY organization made up of humans does.
As a final point before wrapping up… Every religion and philosophy this side of satanism and pure hedonism has some form of a “code of conduct” along the lines of the 10 commandments. I really doubt anyone can make a rational argument how guidelines against lying, stealing, murdering, etc… make society worse. One can split hairs like The Pharisees all day about when bending the truth is OK, but as a general rule, any sane person is going to agree that lying is bad.
Likewise, just because people fail to live up to the ideal does NOT make the ideal wrong. It means we need to strive harder, and help each other along towards it, even if we all never fully achieve it. That’s what an ideal is all about.
Instead, we try to tear down each other’s ideals and step on our fellow human being in order to give ourselves an imagined boost up. That’s what inspired this rant in the first place.
Wrapping It Up:
None of the above is to say religion is perfect or has done everything right. As I said earlier, no system run by human beings is going to be. All of the above criticisms can be applied to a small but overly vocal minority of Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc… as well as spiritual people, atheists and such.
If you want people to change, you have to lead them by example though. Beating somebody down physically or verbally doesn’t make you correct, it just makes you a bully. Seek understanding and lead by example instead. Show them by example how your ideas are better instead of insulting and telling them they’re inferior.
Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
If your ideas truly are better, they’ll naturally catch on without you having to beat down others to promote them.