Religion by Richard Bleil
My religious friends may want to skip this post. I don’t intend to argue that there is no God, as I happen to be a highly spiritual person, and I don’t disrespect people’s beliefs, but I do plan on talking about religion in terms of political and economic terms. There might be some things in here that I suggest (based on my own observations) that might be viewed as offensive to religion which I view a different from faith and belief.
The reality is that religion is different from faith. While many may find faith in their religion, the purpose of religion is, indeed, to stay in business. I know that sounds harsh, but if they don’t stay in business, which means making enough money to stay in business, then they can’t help anybody anyway. Of course, part of staying in business is recruitment for their faith. The easiest way to do this is to recruit the children of the members, reflected in the fact that so many people never change their childhood faith.
Reading the Bible, it’s clear that religion is also a convenient way to control the behavior of people. This isn’t all bad; religions do teach good things. How many problems are caused by “coveting they neighbor’s wife”? Making it a sin boils down to “God says…” And, no, you shouldn’t covet. But there are so many odd things that are still in the Bible as sins. It’s actually a sin to mix meats or eat the meat of cloven animals. Some people still take these as sins, but if you ever think about why this is a sin it makes sense from a health perspective especially in light of the time of the Bible.
If you think about why people might have mixed meats in the past, one reason gave rise to two of my favorite dishes, gumbo and jambalaya. It’s a way to extend food. If you don’t have enough leftover meat for the day, you can mix them with fresh meat, but without refrigeration or proper cooking techniques, the possibility of bad meat would have been significantly higher than today. Cloven hooves include pigs, which is infamous for health problems in the past when the food is incorrectly stored or cooked. So, by making it a sin to eat cloven hoof animals or mixing meats you can help address health issues.
Religion has been used far too often to spread hatred and war as well. Right now, Israel is pounding Hamas positions in the Gaza strip after Hamas fired rockets into Israel. They of course say it’s justice and retaliation, but it’s a war between Sunni Islamism and Judaism. I can hear my Christian friends saying, “not Christianity”, but the Catholic Church launched new fewer than eight Crusades into the middle east between 1096 and 1291.
Now I’m hearing in my mind “but not recently”. And yet, we have been in a twenty-year war in Afghanistan. No, we’re not going to claim it’s not a war against Muslims, and yet we’re comfortable with isolating only Muslim nations for a travel ban just four years ago. The argument isn’t retaliation anymore, but is to protect us from terrorism and yet, among the nations in that list that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks against the US.
Don’t lose your faith. As I stated above, it’s not my intention to make anybody question their life choices and faith, but at the same time, I have trouble with people who buy into anything willing to say it’s in the name of their religion. Stories of parents abusing their children in the name of their religion crop up on occasion. Hypocritical “Christians” periodically deny their children medical attention because of their faith, and yet, often they seek medical attention for themselves.
Organizations like the Ku Klux Klan warp the word of the Bible as a cover for their hateful actions. The Westboro Baptist Church hide behind their faith for shameful protests of fallen American soldiers. Does the Bible tell us to do these things? Interpretations by extremist Christians would say so, and there are many people who would rather believe what they are told instead of reading for themselves. I won’t call myself Christian, but I do like his teachings and believe in what he said. But these days, there are many people who insist on telling others what he said, and what he stood for. Somehow, “Love They Neighbor” has morphed into “Love the right color, the right orientation, and the right gender.” Yes, have your faith. Believe what you believe and don’t let anybody tell you that you’re wrong but think for yourself. Don’t give up your soul for a slick forked tongue.