Musing on faith, the State, and crazies:
When people do stupid stuff in name of religion, any religion, I feel embarrassed. I KNOW that religious extremist are rare and don’t represent the majority of believers but I still feel embarrassed. The foundation of all religions is having faith and a belief in something we can’t prove. To me, that means it should be something that use personally with the understanding that religion is NOT something that you “make” anyone understand. When I see violence, hate, sexism, aggressive colonialism, and other bad uses of religion, it really makes me understand atheists and sympathetic to their cause of an absolute separation of Church(or religion) and State.
How about a new rule for a New Year? “You believe what you want and live your life according to your own beliefs. And, when people don’t agree with your religion or world view, you tell your God to handle it.”
But no more killing, being mean, or discrimination of other people in the name of God. Until God comes and speaks to us ALL directly, (we can’t an individual’s word for it. Remember George W. Bush’s word that God told him to invade Iraq) let’s just keep religion personal.
One of the great things about America and other countries, is the ability for faith organization to create their own institutions that people can voluntarily participate in. I LOVE the Catholic Charities. They do some amazing work. I volunteer and do social projects with them. I am working with them now on a project to bring a hot meal program to the suburbs and they have been way more receptive, helpful, to the idea than the local government. But I don’t think the Catholic Church should legislate my health care. Luckily, for the most part, they can’t. However, there are some religious extremist that are trying to change that.
I feel the same way about Islam. I understand that it is horrible in Islam to depict an image of Muhammed. I don’t totally understand why, because it is not my faith, but I have some Christian things that other people don’t understand too. Explaining the Holy Trinity and the immaculate conception of Mary to non believers is impossible without the context of faith and religious traditions. It isn’t going to make sense to them and I am going to sound like a crazy person explaining how Jesus is really God to someone who doesn’t share the same belief.
HOWEVER, I believe we have to come to place as people of faith, where we don’t punish or force people to believe what we believe. If depicting an image of Muhammed is wrong, you can let people know that. You can boycott their paper. You can target their advertisers. You should explain to all people of different faiths why this matters so much to you. But in the end, as people of faith, we should leave the punishing and judging to God. As a society, we HAVE to have room for differing opinions. And, more importantly, as people of faith, we have demonstrate our faith with our personal actions.
In closing, here is one of my favorite quotes from Senator Cory Booker:
“Don’t speak to me about your religion;
first show it to me in how you treat other people.
Don’t tell me how much you love your God;
show me in how much you love all God’s children.
Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith;
teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.
In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.”