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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

WHAT HAPPENED TO RELIGION?

Recently religion has made news headlines because of its decline in
numbers. The inevitable questions becomes between pit secularism and
vs. religious practice. Are people less spiritual? Opinion writers and
table conversations line up on one side or the other choose sides
either to declare declaring that society is going to the devil or
religion has gone too radical. Reality is never black or white, nor is
truth to be found neatly delineated. The Creator painted with shades
and hues as well as a palette of brilliant and bright colors. Since
the Creator was so innovative, how can the human spirit become so
limited?

Perhaps the answer in the decline of those attending church has more
to do with how churches are serving society today.

There was a day when religion’s great accomplishments were found in
institutions created to serve the outcasts of society and hardship
cases. There was a day when the great human interest stories that
emanated from religious inspiration were found in hostels, hospitals,
orphanages, schools, shelters and in heroic individuals serving the
most forgotten, the most reviled, the most feared, and the most
unfortunate in society. The legal battles of religion at one time was
the defense of sanctuary which is the right of an outlaw to seek
shelter in the church. Wikipedia defines it as follows: “A sanctuary,
in its original meaning, is a sacred place, such as a shrine. By the
use of such places as a safe haven, by extension the term has come to
be used for any place of safety”.

Today the legal battles of religion is in defense of discrimination or
the right to say “No”. Professional ethics in medicine and law insists
on being blind and will severely punish anyone who dares to refuse
service. These “secular” values extend to shopkeepers and the service
industry. How did it happen that restaurants would be forced to serve
everyone and churches claim the right to close their doors? Why are
some religious institutions voicing support for restaurants refusing
to serve any of God’s children? How did it happen that religion has
become the shield behind which people can defend their prejudices or
become a sanctuary of hatred?

Who were the leaders and heroes of civil rights and public service? In
my youth they were Dr. Tom Dewey, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Fr.
Damien of Malakai. How have we come to the place where these heroes
are replaced by the likes of Pastor Fred Phelps? How has it happened
that Christian hospitals serving the general public now fight legal
battles leading to the Supreme Court to defend their right to say no
to a woman?

Is it any wonder that youth Youth whom thrive on challenging the
status quo, do not find in religion today the inspiration to a more
inclusive or bolder embrace of others in today’s religion?. Youth have
forced their elders to question rules and norms that have often
disenfranchised segments of our society. Youth demands fairness and
respect for themselves and others they view as shut out. Youth
therefore questions their support of religious institutions.

Or is the inspiration of religion to inspire youth to take up arms
against “the other” in order to protect our values, our sameness, our
righteousness? Do religious institutions still have a special place in
society to motivate youth and all citizens to seek kindness,
compassion, understanding, respect, and fair treatment?

What does religion offer youth who are ready willing to give their
lives time and energy for a cause? What are our churches offering
youth who are wanting to be challenged to change the world?

Society has developed standards of practice at odds with some
churches. Is Are our society and our legal system now the leaders in
protecting human dignity? Has religion lost its place in driving
forward human progress?

Before we people of faith begin to assign blame in the decrease of
religious participation we need to look in the mirror. This is a
beginning of a discussion. This is first a self-examination before
taking a look at the press and its role in presenting religion to the
world. Are we the inspiration to make our world a more Christian
world that includes those of a different religion as well as those who
reject it all together? Are we the examples to be held to those
wanting to see what the humankind is truly capable of accomplishing in
the name of Christianity? Perhaps by being so we shall see the return
of many and the swelling in our pews.

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