On Religion - Part 1
Warning – this blog entry concerns my thoughts on religion… right or wrong; for better or worse – and I specifically trash Baptists who, for the most part, I hold in contempt. If you are a Baptist, a person of faith, or are otherwise easily offended, you should not read this blog entry. Consider yourself warned!
Life sometimes gets in the way of those things which are truly important. Under the category of “truly important" I include such things as truth and self-reflection. I have done much self-reflection these past few years and have written about some of it in my other blog entries. However, one topic which I have so far avoided has been religion.
I have always been conflicted about religion, faith, and spirituality. While I tell others that I am a person of faith, I’m not sure I really am. I tend to believe things based on empirical evidence, and I have not yet seen proof of god’s existence –
I have, on more than one occasion, gone out of my way to ridicule others for their belief in god citing, as proof of god’s non-existence, the classic paradox known as the “problem of evil". The basis for the paradox, with which I agree by the way, is based on the premise: 1) god is all powerful; 2) god is all loving; and 3) evil exists. Simply put, either god wants to abolish evil and can’t, or he can abolish evil but doesn’t want to. If he wants to but can’t, he is not all powerful. If he can but doesn’t want to, he is not all loving. And, if he both wants to abolish evil and can abolish evil, then how can evil still exist? Since these three things can’t all be true at the same time, god doesn’t exist… at least, not for me.
People here in
Baptists don’t refer to themselves as Baptists though – they call themselves Christians, which I find both amusing and misleading! They are quick to point out that Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians are, in fact, Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians and not Christians at all. When they say Christian, they mean Baptist – and they are both insistent and quite vocal about it. The “Evangelical Right" is alive and well in
Baptists consider themselves highly moral persons above reproach. In one breath, Baptists will condemn the Ku Klux Klan as an evil, racist group while, at the same time, preaching that no one, other than god, should judge anyone else. In one breath, Baptists will condemn gays and lesbians as evil, immoral sinners while, at the same time, preaching that no one should judge another! This, to me, has always smacked of hypocrisy.
Baptists take the bible seriously; if it’s in the bible, it is god’s own truth. They believe in the concept of creation, but dismiss the bible’s well documented concept of slavery. They pick and choose which parts of the bible to believe and espouse, and summarily dismiss those parts that don’t fit with their beliefs. They acknowledge that Jesus was a good Jewish man, but dismiss the fact that Jesus didn’t even adhere to his own religious beliefs. In fact, I’ve had Baptists tell me, right to my face, that Jesus was Christian. I’ve had Baptists tell me, right to my face, that Jesus didn’t drink alcohol – which is totally absurd since he was Jewish and sacramental wine is mandated. Actually, I find this puzzling about all branches of Christianity – they claim to follow the example set by Jesus, and yet dismiss his belief in his own religion. It seems to me, that if Christians really want to emulate Jesus, they should practice Judaism but, like Jesus, they should only do a half-assed job of it.
Indeed, there was quite a debate a few years ago about what kind of car Jesus would have driven. Some said he would have driven a SUV for whatever reason, but others vehemently disagreed claiming that an SUV wasn’t economical. Some said he would have driven a Honda Civic because it was both economical and not too flashy. Bunk, I say. He wouldn’t have driven anything less than a Cadillac or a Lincoln. Why? Because he was Jewish and a leader in the community!
I really think that some Baptists are incredibly stupid. Some of these folks petitioned to have the Harry Potter movies dropped from the local movie theatres claiming that since wizardry is not sanctioned in the bible, it should not be espoused as a way of life. I mean, do these folks really think that the rest of the population is so naïve and vulnerable that they’d actually believe what they see on the silver screen?
Maybe I just don’t understand the whole idea of “Jesus loves you". In my town, there are people who stand on street corners with signs saying, “Jesus died for your sins". They do this mostly on Sunday, but also on Wednesdays. While it seems adequate for just about everyone else, for some reason, Baptists feel that one day a week in church isn’t enough… so most go twice a week. This ties right in with their belief that they are somehow morally superior to the rest of us. It’s gotten to the point where after school activities are not held on Wednesdays because it would interfere with church activities. I figured out a long time ago that if they really want to follow Jesus’ example, they should be going to services on Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath! After all, that’s what Jesus did. Anyway, I have to laugh at the people with the signs. While I’ll admit that I’ve sinned, I’ve never done anything bad enough to warrant someone dying for me. I also think that the death of Jesus roughly 2000 years ago can’t possibly have any relevance to any sins I’ve committed in the here and now!
Baptists bemoan the fact that religion, prayer, and god in general, are slowly being weeded out of the school curriculum. These are the same people who hate the ACLU for upholding the Constitution of the
Baptists equate Jesus with god. They don’t seem to see any difference between the two. They make no distinction between the phrase, “All things are possible with god" and “All things are possible with Jesus". No difference whatsoever! I’ll admit, I’ve never fully understood why Christians of any kind pray to god through Jesus. I mean… isn’t praying to god sufficient by itself? Does god really need some sort of intercessor? Maybe Jesus acts as some sort of clearing house for prayer… regular prayers get handled by Jesus personally, and really important prayers get kicked upstairs! Of course, if all things are possible with Jesus, and if Jesus can handle all the prayers by himself, why then would anyone need to pray to god? Jews, for example, don’t pray to Jesus… they pray directly to god – and if you ask a Jew whether his prayer is effective, he’ll tell you “Yes", every time! So, if god answers the prayers of Jews – who have been around for a lot longer than Christians (and let’s not forget that Jesus was also Jewish), why do Christians think they need Jesus to intercede on their behalf? What’s also a bit odd, is that if Baptists pray to god via Jesus, then they obviously acknowledge that god and Jesus are separate and distinct… and yet they equate Jesus with god! Well… as my Catholic friends would say, “It’s a mystery!"
Now, despite what I’ve written here, I have great respect for those who practice their religion – it’s a difficult thing to which you must fully commit – but I make no exceptions for that… which is to say, you either practice your faith fully or not at all – and, above all, you don’t pick and choose what you believe… something which the Baptists do not yet fully understand. What good does it do anyone if you adhere to some aspects of your faith but disregard others when circumstances warrant or it's not convenient? This only makes you a hypocrite – something which I, long ago, decided I would not be. I may not practice my religion, but at least I’m not a hypocrite like so many other people. Does that somehow make me morally superior to those who wear their religion on their sleeve? I don’t know, but I sleep well at night secure in the knowledge that I haven’t sinned by omission.
Now, I don’t expect anyone to necessarily agree with me, and I’ve probably angered more than a few gentle readers with my thoughts on religion… but y’know – I don’t care. I’m as entitled to my opinion as the next person, and I don’t really care one way or the other if you happen to dislike what I’ve written – I’m a sanctimonious prick after all. You aren’t going to change my mind any more that I’m going to change yours.