Whether you accept that or not ?well, that’s another story. Few in the US can deny that these are uncertain times politically, socially, morally and economically. Never before do people remember a time of so much uncertainty. With a Trillion dollar budget deficit, outsourcing and downsizing the norm in companies, a terrorism target, looming legalization of gay marriages, a politically divided society, lost credibility and a nation that has made more enemies then friends worldwide.
It is in times like this that debates spring about on the direction this nation is heading. And so It happened one day when I was staying late at work, that a colleague of mine came over to go over some technical stuff with me, after that somehow the discussion moved onto politics and then onwards to an explosive issue in America’s society right now-gay rights! He supported Gay rights, I didn’t. He pointed out, the only reason I didn’t support gay rights is because of my religious beliefs. I paused for a while. He was right -I really didn’t have any other reason for not supporting it. He continued to say that religion was responsible for at least half if not all the problems in the world, that this country was founded by people who had escaped religious persecution and the success of this country was because of the separation of church and state enshrined in the constitution and so on. Gay rights were important in order to protect the country from the vested interests of religious bigots.
As I tried countering his arguments. I found myself defending religion which I wasn’t sure I wanted to at the time. As it was already late we decided to part, to “discuss” it at another time. Over the course of the next few days, I started thinking on what he had said. I had to find ways on defending my opposition to gay rights without sounding religious. But I soon realized I couldn’t. Our faith forms such a big part of our lives. It defines who we are -again whether you accept it or not, that’s another story Consider this- From the moment you are born -your very name is decided by it. The Country in which you were born into may have been formed by it (India, Pakistan Israel etc.). Wars may have even been fought for it. People may even have been persecuted for it. Many Countries have their religious texts as their constitution. Some countries have religious verses on their flags. Some even refer to god in their national anthems. Every tradition or ritual that takes place from your birth -baptism, communion, bar mitzvah, marriage, divorce, and funeral to death are decided by it.
During the course of your life it tells you what you are allowed to eat, certain foods like meats may not be permissible and if allowed meats ?what type of meats you can eat. The rituals to be followed before you eat them Whether you can drink alcohol or not, what your women wear or are not allowed to wear, your rights as a woman itself, what your punishment is for crimes committed, your rights as a citizen of the land, Your rights as a foreigner to the land or of a different faith in that land, your morals, your outlook on life. You may have even be educated by a religious school or at times treated by a religious hospital because of their better services then secular institutions. Some of us may even have been raised by them -orphanages, boarding schools etc.
Even in Economics, seven of the eight most developed nations in the world are of the same religion. Democracy, human rights all owe their existence to religion. Like it or not religion forms the basis of a culture, its science, its thought, its values, its morals, and its society Why is religion so important in our lives? To start with it gives us an identity and a core set of beliefs. That we can pass from one generation to another-it is timeless in this regard. You cannot guarantee the passage of wealth from one generation to the next with your best effort. But you can do so with religion. This is because no matter what, you may be persecuted or tortured – but no one can take your faith away, not if you don?t want it to. In most instances the only common thing you and your great great grand father had in common may have been your religion. It is a belief that answers the core questions of life and the meaning of life, which only it can answer.
Another reason is that religion helps us in times of adversity. It offers us hope that things can and will get better. It offers us a solace among the various hardships we face everyday. What about you? How would you define a Mangalorean? What do you think was going through the minds of Mangalorean Christians when they were being persecuted by Tipu Sultan (because he thought they were allies of the british as they shared the same faith). I?m curious to know your answers.
Religious men have been instrumental in making the world a better place-like the pope and the downfall of communism, Bishop despmond tutu and apartheild, Martin Luther king Jr. etc. Nevertheless, religion has also been misused -from Henry VIII (the puritans came to this country to escape his persecution), BJP, Hitler, Osama bin Laden to Al-Sadr.Throughout history some men have misused religion for their own needs. But the good works of religion far outweighs the works of a few bad men.
But surprisingly, although religion has been the very soul of our societies for centuries past, it is at odds with today?s’ society. Today?s society has a mindset of general apathy towards religion. I have come across many young people that say that they believe in God but do not believe in any form of “organized religion?. What does that mean? I do not know. The main purpose of any organization is to prevent chaos. Why do we want to prevent chaos? To prevent anarchy of course! Others I meet although raised by their parents in a religious setting have somehow fallen on the wayside, more popularly known as ?lapsed?, Unsure about their faith anymore. They have too many doubts, not sure which side to turn to. It is very important to understand that in religion just like your conscience -which is the voice of your God telling you what is right or wrong. You are either in it or out. You are either with it or against it. There are simply no go betweens.
And just like your conscience ?there are no half rights or half wrongs. So what ever you have decided to choose, go all the way or simply don?t go at all. Nothing ever came out from half-hearted action. Others I have met have some disdain or anger esp. towards the Catholic Church. They point out various faults or mistakes that have occurred over the years and then poke fun of the concept of its infallibility. To start with the Catholic Church is the world?s oldest and largest institution and as such it has been and will continue to be the target of numerous attempts to destroy it from within and outside by way of famine, wars, revolutions, reformation, assassination attempts etc. Concepts of its foundation, Infallibility and the power to forgive sins were handed down to the church by the apostles who founded it in the first place.
Human thinking has evolved over the centuries, it is foolish to stand today and judge things in the past. Cause we do not know the circumstances and scenario that existed at that time. How many of you know that in 1857 the US Supreme Court ruled that blacks were not human beings and should be treated as salves or in 1920?s when it ruled that women were inferior to men and should not be allowed to vote? It was all fine then but definitely not acceptable now. So whom do you blame? So it was when Galileo was forced to recount his findings. Others point to the church abuses during the reformation, Hitler?s era or recent child molestation cases or the da-vinci code. But most of them haven?t bothered to go in depth at what happened.
There are always two sides to every story and A little learning is indeed a dangerous thing. I have read about some of these events and support the church?s actions at the time. Unfortunately there are a tiny minuscule bad people that have misused their vocation in those child abuse cases. What appalled me then was the impunity with which people would attack ?the very pillars of their society? Unfortunately, Today?s media is also against religion In 2002 I traveled to Washington to take part in the anti-abortion demonstration, it falls on the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme court decision that made abortion legal. All through out that day I couldn’t wait to get back home that evening to watch it on TV. Hopefully to catch myself there. Can you believe it? None of the major TV channels carried it! I was amazed beyond words. A small demonstration of a few people would get their coverage, but hundreds of thousands would not. As mentioned earlier, in religion You are either with it or against it there are simply no compromises and there is no common ground -as witnessed in the sharp differences in the recent presidential elections in which morals was the main issue. Throughout your life ?in the important events in your life, you are either building your church or your destroying it.
Either way the matter is religion??Everything you do in life is religion
Author: Collins Lewis- USA