A conundrum

Mariner was a preacher for a while. He became familiar with the Christian faith generally and with Christ’s exhortations to love others before self. In college he had a minor in religion and studied several religions. Not one religion, especially Islam, ever took the ‘love’ thing seriously.

For centuries Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism were more closely related to the role of a Supreme Court and supported the political power base. Islam had a similar role but promoted a more punitive role as a requirement for inclusion. These are generalizations, of course, but generally the role of religion has more often been concerned about politics and self-aggrandizement than the pursuit of salvation.

It seems today that this political role has returned. In the United States particularly, hate is preached from the chancel. Deliberate political enmity and even violence are supported.

Is religion a change agent? Does religion have a ‘divine’ right to promote pain, suffering and death in the name of God and Jesus Christ? It is a conundrum.

Whenever religion takes up political reform, it is rebellious; advocates are looking for revenge, not love. Whenever religion focuses on profitability, it disregards the need for love and replaces it with dollars. With all the confusion in today’s world of humans, it is hard to find positive spiritual anchors – especially in churches.

What happened to the words of Jesus? Does religion suffer from the same forces that shape society? If so, what purpose is religion? In a time when unity, love of fellow man, sharing and compassion are in critical demand, where is the moral authority of religion?

Some of this confusion can be laid at the footsteps of the Founding Fathers. They wanted to be sure that the Church would never play an official role as a ‘state religion.’ In effect, however, making religion an independent and protected role in society, religion could do whatever it wanted in spite of democratic legislation.

So, the question remains, how can religion help? How can it advocate love of others? If religion doesn’t uphold Christ’s principles, who needs religion – unless it is a political voice instead of a religious voice?

Ancient Mariner


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