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Posts Tagged ‘is religion bad?’

Elton John is being too kind here. The reality is, “organized religion” absolutely, overwhelmingly does not work.

In fact, “organized religion” is so wildly unsuccessful that just putting those two words together causes a negative reaction in people like me.

Because I follow Jesus Christ — whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God — you might not understand. Aren’t people like me all about “religion”? In a word, NO.

Serious followers of Christ have zero interest in “religion” because it does exactly what Elton John says. Religious people seem addicted to:

  • harshly opposing anyone who doesn’t agree with them
  • judging others based on horribly superficial criteria like clothing, body jewelry, language and political positions
  • ignoring or downplaying their own weaknesses
  • isolating themselves from the world, instead of working to improve it

Where does this all lead? So often, it leads to religious people concluding that because they’re right, everyone else is wrong. It’s a pretty short trip from that conclusion to persecuting those “wrong” people.

Unfortunately, history overflows with horrifying examples of that thinking, from Christians rioting against Jews in the Middle Ages to present-day Islamic terrorists murdering Christians, Jews and anyone else who opposes their radical agenda.

There you have it; the hateful lemmings of “organized religion”.

Now let me advance to you the position of Jesus Christ. In his book The End of Religion, Bruxy Cavey notes that in the Bible, Jesus “is not portrayed as the founder of a world religion, but the challenger of all religions. I am not suggesting that Jesus opposes all forms of organization, but that he opposes dependence on any one organization for our connection with God.”

Bruxy, a Canadian pastor, goes on to make this statement: “the primary mission of Jesus was to tear down religion as the foundation for people’s connection with God and to replace it with himself.”

Exactly. Being a Christian is not about being part of a religion. It’s about establishing a relationship with the Son of God through prayer, reading the Bible and attending church. As that relationship deepens, Christ followers open their heart, minds and souls to being led by Jesus to a place where we:

  1. Come to understand and support God’s position that all people, from terrorists to politicians, from blue-collar workers to billionaires, are worthy of His passionate love.
  2. Humbly agree that no one has the inside track on virtue; everyone has “sinned” — that is, missed the mark of what we can be — and that by following Jesus, God can and does change that through radical forgiveness.
  3. Recognize that we are Christ’s loving ambassadors in a world that most of us will agree is not doing very well. In fact, as Christ’s ambassadors, Christians are really God’s agents of change — allowing Him to work through us to make this planet a better place.

Do you want to be one of God’s agents of change? Yes or no, share your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Religion badWhy did I save this graphic after first seeing it in an atheist community? Because I can do better.

Yes, “religion” offers false hope for the poor. Yes, “religion” offers pretend wisdom for the stupid.

But it also offers opportunities to be judgemental. Hard-hearted. Unforgiving. Obsessed with keeping irrelevant rules. Unloving of anyone outside the “religious” group.

Had enough? I certainly have. That’s why I’ll always stand up, with any member of the atheist world, and declare that “religion” is downright horrible.

Before I go any further, let me clarify: the “religion” I’m referring to is what most of our culture generally thinks of when they hear the word. NOT the dictionary definition.

Let me move you on to something far more life-affirming, soul-enhancing and character-building: faith. In this case, faith in Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God.

Jesus had as much interest in “religion” as you, me and the creator of the meme that inspired this blog. In other words, ZERO.

During His physical time on earth, Jesus spent much of his time opposing the dominant religious authorities in ancient Israel. In ‘Matthew’, one of the four Bible accounts of Jesus’ physical life, he notes “They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden”.

Yep. Nailed it.

So what about faith – in this case, faith in Jesus? Now we’re talking about something entirely different. We’re talking about:

  • Understanding who God is – the perfect and mysterious creator of time, space and the universe.
  • Understanding who we are – horribly imperfect people who can never live up to God’s standard of perfection.
  • Understanding who Jesus is – God’s absolutely perfect love GIFT to everyone who is willing to believe in Him and follow Him above everyone and everything else.

When you understand this and accept the gift of Jesus, you also understand that you no longer have to live up to God’s standard of perfection because Jesus paid the penalty for everything wrong you’ve ever done and everything right you’ve ever failed to do.

Finally, when you understand all this, you’ll want to become more like Jesus. You’ll want to be more generous and less selfish, more compassionate and less judgemental, more concerned about others and less preoccupied with yourself.

This is all part of the miracle that happens when you cast aside the priorities of our culture and make Jesus your priority. It’s a life-long process of change and growth that doesn’t end until you’re finished with this life and start your next life – eternity in the transforming, glorious presence of your Creator.

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Religion+is+Slavery+-Robert+G.+Ingersoll-1I’m a Christian, so what I’m going to write probably won’t make a lick of sense to you. But I’m gonna write it anyway.

1. “Religion” can never reform humanity. Ever.

2. Without a doubt, “religion” is slavery.

Religion is dogma, rules to follow, appearance to keep up, judgements to hand out. It all too often translates into numbing negativity that gives people of faith a bad reputation.

A quick example? You would be amazed at how many people who call themselves Christians spend their Halloweens telling other Christians how deluded and misguided they are to be “celebrating” what one Christian called a “pagan holiday about death”.

I feel quite safe in writing if I line up 100 North American parents who are taking their six-year-olds out to collect candy and tell them what these Christians said, they would look at me like I’m out of my mind.

Sadly, there are people who become addicted to this kind of thinking. In other words, they become slaves to “religion”. Some even go so far as to pass judgement on people’s clothes and hairstyles, declaring that today’s men and women look too much alike and it’s “one of the reasons we have this is the epidemic of homosexuality”. Yes, I’m actually quoting from a religious person who wrote this on the Internet.

Frankly, I’m embarrassed by it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God) is embarrassed, too. The Bible doesn’t have a single quote from Him about Halloween or about people’s clothing and hairstyles. Not. One. Word.

But in a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew’, Jesus does have this to say about people in love with religion: “They pile heavy burdens on people’s shoulders and won’t lift a finger to help. Everything they do is just to show off in front of others.”

I’m sure you’re as turned off by all of this as I am. Indeed, if people tried to attract me to Christianity with this kind of thinking, I would have run the other way.

So what attracted me? The prospect of a relationship with the Son of God that starts in this life and extends into eternity. The idea that God loves — yes, LOVES me so much that He offered me an extraordinary gift: Jesus Christ — His life and incredible teachings, His sacrificial death to make up for all the bad things I’ve done and all the good things I’ve failed to do, and His game-changing resurrection.

I wanted this relationship. I wanted to be reformed in a way “religion” never can. And I wanted to be free of the slavery of our culture — the meaningless drive for money, power and prestige, the irrelevant obsession with looking good and earning the praise of judgmental people.

And I have it. By no means am I anywhere within shouting distance of “perfect”. But because I follow Jesus Christ, I’m a better person than before. And I have the assurance of life with Him for all eternity.

Do you find this at all attractive? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Hijacks mindIt’s such a common stereotype that many people accept it without a moment’s thought or investigation: people of faith just don’t think “critically”. For many years, I bought this sales pitch, too.

Only after becoming a Christian did I check out the facts. And they left me astounded.

1. Between 1901 and 2000, more than 65 per cent of Nobel prize winners have identified Christianity as their religious preference. That’s according to the book 100 Years of Nobel Prizes.

The Christian Nobel list includes J.J. Thomson in physics, Liberia president Helen Johnson Sirleaf for the peace prize, Ivan Pavlov in physiology or medicine and Gabriel Garcia Marquez in literature. A little bit of research will reveal that none of these people are brain-dead dolts.

2. In the entertainment world, how about actress Mira Sorvino (who won an Academy Award for Woody Allen’s 1995 move Mighty Aphrodite), Tyler Perry (who, besides his TV and movie acting/directing/screenwriting credits, owns a 200,000-square-foot movie studio) and two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington? Can anyone credibly state these people are idiots?

3. Scientists? I’ve already written an entire essay on just a few of the Christians who are doing amazing work in the science world. You can read it here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-e9

Does “religion” hijack the mind? More often than not, yes. Religion is about following rules, keeping up appearances and judging others. That’s not what serious Christians are all about. We are about having a life-long relationship with Jesus Christ, who we (and many others) believe is God’s son.

In my case, I did all kinds of critical thinking before deciding to follow Jesus at age 41. I read books from a wide variety of perspectives. I debated the basics of Christianity with Christ followers. I thought long and hard about I’d read, what I’d heard, and how this world has always worked.

That’s not all it took for me to become a man of faith. It took an understanding that God is not the evil ogre that some people make Him out to be. And finally, it took a leap of faith.

A mix of reason, understanding and faith is what it takes to become a Christian.

Maybe that sounds like a lot of work. Maybe you’re shrugging your shoulders and thinking “Meh, I don’t need this. What’s on TV?”

Fine. But if you were satisfied by what our culture insists is the keys to success — money, power, fame, toys, sex, the newest iPad and cruise-ship vacations — would you be reading this essay?

You know there has to be more to life than that. And maybe you’ve even wondered what happens when this life ends. Do you simply become rancid worm food or do you have a soul that lives on? These are important questions. And Christianity has the answers.

Want to know more? Click the ‘links to other sites’ tab at the top of this page or email me at fdking@hotmail.com. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

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Religion bad 5.14A challenging graphic, isn’t it? I saw it on an atheist Internet community and knew it would be good for Frank’s Cottage. Mostly because I’m in full agreement.

Religion, from my point of view, often does BAD things in our world.

  • Religion says that because the group I belong to is right, then everyone else must be wrong. And it’s a pretty short trip from there to believing I can do whatever I want to “wrong” people.
  • Religion says I have to do things, or NOT do things, in order to get in good with whatever god is at the top of that group.
  • Religion says if I blow up a building or murder a doctor who performs abortions, I’m doing a good thing.
  • Religion says I’m supposed to have it all together and if I don’t, then others (who obviously DO have it all together) will judge me and exclude me from their social group.
  • Religion insists that certain behaviours are wrong (such as having an occasional alcoholic drink or getting a tattoo), even if my holy book is absolutely silent on them.

So where does all this religion get us? I like the response of Bruxey Cavey. In his book The End of Religion, this Canadian pastor writes, “Religion does not lead people to God any more than empty cups quench your thirst”.

To me, religion leads to an empty charade of a life. Or the sickening horror of thinking you’re doing good by blowing up a building or murdering a doctor who performs abortions.

Another pastor, Mark Driscoll explains the difference between religion and Christianity (my faith) this way:

Religion is humanity trying to reach up to God. The message of Christianity is God reaching down to people. Religion is about what people have to do to be right with God.  Christianity is about what God has already done to provide us the opportunity to be right with Him.

Religion says you must earn your salvation by doing good deeds or certain acts and not doing evil. Christianity says all we need to do is believe that Jesus Christ [whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is God’s son] has already paid the price for the evil we have done.

And before you protest, yes, every human being on this planet (and that certainly includes ME) has done evil. Even the late Mother Teresa did evil — that’s one reason she dedicated her life to following Jesus. She wanted — and received, as far as serious Christians are concerned — the benefit of Jesus paying the price for all her wrongs through His sacrificial death at the hands of Roman officials. That benefit is eternity in Heaven with her saviour.

“Jesus did not come to offer an alternative religion, but an alternative to religion,” Bruxey Cavey wrote in The End of Religion. “He did not call people to leave one lifeless shell for another, but to live life beyond the borders of religious rules, regulations, rituals, and routines.”

Does this Jesus — and all He’s done for everyone who believes in and follows Him — appeal to you? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Are you as fascinated as I am with the spirituality of celebrities? In recent years, the media told us about pop singer Katy Perry not having a childhood because of her strict religious parents (they wouldn’t even let her buy non-Christian CDs), and about Brad Pitt (who grew up the son of very conservative Christian parents) saying his upbringing was stifling.

Now there’s another celebrity speaking out about faith.  Brian Johnson, the 66-year-old rock vocalist with AC/DC – I love his wolverine-in-heat singing style – told the website popeater.com that he doesn’t believe in religion.

“I believe all religions are bad,” he said. “I think they’re a waste of time.”

From a Christian perspective (and that was Johnson’s childhood environment), he couldn’t be more right. Religion is about rules and appearances – follow the rules and make sure you appear to have it all together. If you don’t, prepare to be criticized and ostracized.

Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is the son of God, has no use for this kind of thinking. He told the self-righteous religious leaders of His day (those are likely the sort of people Johnson is thinking about) that they were hopeless frauds.

The Bible records him telling a crowd of people, “Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they [the self-righteous religious leaders] package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads.”

In the case of Katy Perry (famous for her outlandish outfits and the hit song ‘I Kissed a Girl’), she told Vanity Fair magazine her parents wouldn’t let her say ‘deviled eggs’ or ‘dirt devil’ and the only book her mother ever read to her was the Bible.

Now this may be a case of parents fearful of losing their child to all the attractions of our superficial, often-misguided culture. But that fear caused them to go to such laughable religious extremes that Perry abandoned her faith.

These were the same kinds of extremes Jesus dealt with. His followers were collecting food during the Sabbath – a holy day of rest for serious Jews – when those obnoxious, rule-obsessed religious leaders found out and accused them of breaking Jewish law. As before, Jesus refused to knuckle under.

“The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath,” He told them.

Notice what keeps happening? Now, as in Biblical times, religion keeps getting in the way of people having a life-changing relationship with God – a relationship that ultimately guarantees us a place in Heaven with Jesus.

I’m not saying all rules are always bad; can you imagine the mayhem that would result if we tried playing hockey or soccer without rules? But those guidelines help us understand and enjoy hockey and soccer, just as the rules in the Bible (the Ten Commandments, for example) help us understand and enjoy a relationship with God, through Jesus.

If this makes sense, are you willing to give God (as opposed to religion) a try?

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