My opinion of religion is simple. “If it’s something that resonates for you in your soul, who am I to judge you for it?”
Ironically, this also then must include people who abuse children/animals or people who think it’s fun to burn people’s homes down. After all, those things may well resonate within their soul. But here’s the thing, if your soul resonates to something like that, don’t tell me about it. Because then, resonation or not, I’m going to resonate on the telephone to the proper authorities about you. That’s a promise.
I do feel that religion has been used as a justification for a number of atrocities through history. And it’s not just one particular group, it’s been lots of different ones. Usually on the folks who p**sed in their religion’s Wheaties a few generations earlier. I also think that religion has been behind a number of equally humanitarian and pure love actions through history – again, by a range of religious. Sadly however, it’s usually the atrocities that one hears about; perhaps because of mankind’s apparent fascination with all things that are bad? *shrug* I’m not a psychologist (although I have studied it at tertiary education level), I daren’t postulate any further on that idea.
I also feel that religion is a personal choice, not something that can be forced on you or that you simply ‘inherit’. By inherit, I mean that Grandma was a Orthodox Christian, then parents were the same, and so, by inheritance, you are. True, if it’s something that’s shaped the majority of your spiritual life, it may well be the case that you remain with it, but there’s just as likely to be the situation where you explore the other options and find that one of them resonates better for you. I know it did for me when I was the only pagan at my Catholic high school.
Religion is not a reason for war or terrorism, nor is it a reason to hate other people. It’s not a reason to go killing people, nor to beat them within an inch of life. It’s not a reason to vilify, belittle, berate or marginalise people.
To me, it’s a great illustration of ‘many roads lead to Rome’ – we can all have a completely different view of what’s sacred, but in the end, it’s something that gives us hope, strength, support, a moral compass, community and well-being.
There will always be extreme views in religion(s), much as there’s extreme views in politics. But perhaps it’s time to stop focussing our attention on the people screaming bloody murder and hatred? Surely, the ones who are simply getting on and helping everyone regardless of belief deserve our attention and support more?
Ah, religion. Between it, politics and human sexuality, it’s an unholy trinity to discuss at dinner!