The title came from a T-shirt I saw and liked. I know it’s an unpopular opinion in most of the world’s populations and it makes me look like I don’t care about anything worthy of the name God or Spirituality. But it’s precisely because I do believe in some benevolent force (or rather forces) lying inside of or behind or over and under the material world that I find it so offensive that Religion wraps the Spirit up in the chains of dogma. It reduces it to some mindless pablum that excuses any rube who says “I believe in Jesus” or “It is Allah’s will” or “Hare Krishna” from actually investigating the Spirit and doing the hard work to live a moral life. Religion has become—and perhaps always has been—a denial of Spirit by reducing it to rules and formulas and church attendance and mouthing the right words. (And just for the record, when I say “benevolent” force, I don’t mean an anthropomorphized God who actually cares about my tiny life and is willing to answer my pathetic prayers. I simply mean something that reveals a sense of meaning and purpose and rightness to the human comedy and tragedy, a hidden Unity that reveals the Spirit.)
You wouldn’t guess what brought this on, but it was as simple as this: Some evil person got a hold of my credit card number and is using it to purchase things at Walmart. Because I’m traveling around in China for 5 weeks, my company can’t mail me a new one, but because I’m traveling around in China for 5 weeks, I might need to use my credit card. But if they don’t cancel it, this evil person could keep on buying things at an evil store like Walmart. And so my life suddenly just got more complicated because someone disobeyed one of the Ten Commandments.
But here’s what really set me off. Besides using it for Walmart (had they donated money to the ACLU, I wouldn’t be so mad), they donated some money to some Ministry. So here’s this guy or gal pretending to be a good Christian by sending funds to a Church with a stolen credit card! What would Jesus say?
Now I know millions find comfort in their religion and sometimes religious groups organize and do good works in the field of social justice and some people’s religion actual helps guide them to be better people. I also know that big time horrors like the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, Native American genocides in both North and South America, the institution of slavery, the Japanese invasion of China and the Nazi purges were mostly sanctioned, supported and even financed by religious institutions. (And now I can add to the list the credit-card Walmart/ Ministry scandal!)
Of course, the Russian and Chinese Communists outlawed religion and that didn’t stop Stalin from his genocidal campaigns or Mao from his in China. Religion isn’t the source of mankind’s failures. But it gets my gall that it often is the smokescreen and people go about their evil ways thinking that they have God on their side. And yes, that goes for you, Mike Pence. (Trump is more honest, since he thinks that God is great, but definitely not as great as Trump!) Meanwhile, since I don’t have to worry about being a hypocritical Christian, I can state forthrightly to my credit-card thief:
I hope they catch your ass and you rot in jail! And I will not be praying for your soul.