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Re: Why are people offended by God? rayww

Posted by Atticus on September 20, 2004, at 10:32:11

In reply to Re: Why are people offended by God? NikkiT2, posted by rayww on September 16, 2004, at 17:00:48

As someone who was raised in a strict Irish Roman Catholic household, and has since abandoned any form of organized religion, perhaps I can add another perspective. I believe there is a difference between believing in a spiritual presence (whether you call it God or something else) and between belonging to an organized religion. As I grew older, I began to perceive so many contradictions between what Jesus is alleged to have preached (which I agree with philosophically and morally) and what the Catholic Church put forth as dogma that I came to the conclusion that organizied religion can be as much an impediment to communion with a divine spirit as a help. I saw (and still see) no reason why someone can't simply meditate or talk or pray or chant or sing individually as a form of spirituality. And then I look at the acts that have been committed in the names of various organized religions. In the case of Christianity, for example, many seem to run utterly counter to Jesus's teachings. Take, for example, the notion of being a soldier and being a Christian simultaneously. For the first four centuries of the Christian church, the organization followed a decree by Peter, personal friend and follower of Jesus and his hand-picked successor, if you believe the Gospels to be accurate. Peter ruled that belonging to the Roman army and being a Christian were utterly contradictory. He argued that you could not be a professional killer and then turn around and say that you adhered to the teachings of Jesus. This was asking people to give up a lot in those days. For people who were not ethnic Romans, the only way to acquire full Roman citizenship and a chance to really get ahead in life was to serve in the Roman legion. Citizenship was the main perk that lured recruits into the fold. After the Roman empire collapsed about 470 A.D., Peter's rule was disregarded. Peter's argument had been that the commandment was not "Thou shalt not kill ... except in cases of (X) and (Y)." It was simply, "Don't kill anyone." Period. No exceptions, not even for self-defense. And Jesus himself made this explicit, calling on someone who is attacked to "turn the other cheek." Yet if you look at the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, just to name two examples, you see an awful lot of blood being spilled in Jesus's name. I can't imagine he'd be too thrilled about that. All of this is a long way of saying that people in my family have long equated my rejection of the Catholic Church with atheism, when nothing could be further from the truth. I think the real questions to ask are these: Why do people equate participation in an organized religion with faith, and the absence of such participation as a lack of faith? I don't believe most people are "offended by God." I think some, though, like me, are very much offended by the policies and actions of organized religions that purport to be God's only valid messengers and mouthpieces on Earth. This is not to say that people shouldn't feel free to participate in any organized religion they want, and that all organized religions have only negative effects. If everyone practiced his or her own faith/religion in his or her own way and let everyone else do the same, I think the world would be a much nicer place in which to live. But we all know that's not the way it works in real life. And I don't like being the target of proselytism simply because I choose not to identify myself with this religious organization or that one. I've come to feel that that someone doesn't need a church or even a name for his or her faith to be spiritual. The real problem, as I see it, is that religion and spirituality are indistinguishable in so many peoples' minds. Atticus




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