by Kenneth Justice
It’s become trendy in recent years for people to say that they “are spiritual but hate religion”. The concept of religion has become associated with something bad. As though religion is everything that is bad about the world.
I also hear people say, “religion is man-made but spirituality is not”.
While I have a few ideas as to why religion gets such a bad rap, suffice to say I am the odd-man out; I love religion and tend to despise modern-day spirituality.
We are religious creatures. By that I mean, us humans thrive in conditions that have deeply embedded traditions, symbols, and deeper liturgies; such elements help humans to connect to each other and God in more meaningful ways. When you strip traditions, symbols and liturgy out of a culture, you tend to see large numbers of people lose their sense of self; depression, anxiety, loneliness, and other psychosomatic illnesses begin to plague the masses when religion disappears in society.
Because we are religious creatures, when religion decreases in society, there is also a rise in state-religion, or what we call ‘politics’. Without religion, people begin looking to politics for a whole assortment of answers. Political ideologies, whether it is capitalism or socialism, becomes a religion for people and are viewed as the only means in helping the poor, correct societal injustices, inequality and more.
Sadly, a simple reading of history demonstrates that state-religions fail miserably. In the modern era, state religions tend to evolve into totalitarianism as we saw in Germany, Russia, China and elsewhere. Of course, people don’t tend to view their political party as a state-religion, but when we look at the people’s devotion to their political doctrines, there is no other term that better describes the faith they demonstrate in their political ideology and politicians than the term ‘state-religion’.
In religious terms, to have ‘hope’ one must demonstrate faith in a deity. In a state-religion, since God has been excised from the picture, the people are encouraged to demonstrate hope, and the faith that follows, in their priestly politician. The entire vision of modern-day politics is frighteningly more religious than some religions of the old world.
Politics and state-religion make for a very weak religion. Instead of a religion like Christianity which teaches the only pure religion is one in which the Christian helps orphans and widows, state-religion creates constant agitation and animosity. State-religion thrives off of class-warfare and posing one party of people against another party of people. State-religion demands a constant state of warfare among its own citizens!
True religion demands the exact opposite, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” said Jesus. So instead of trying to conquer fellow citizens, as Democrats and Republicans in America attempt in their state-religions, Christianity calls for a far higher calling; to love one’s enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Sadly, state-religion’s are the current fad, and true religions are treated with contempt. Until this changes I suspect we will continue to see ever worse conditions for our culture.
*Stock image Pable Rabelledo unsplash.com