Let me start by saying that I was raised Catholic, and have found that to be a cult. (Cue the instant protests from staunch supporters of the Church). Any place that includes exercises in their sermon (sit, stand, kneel; repeat at key points in the mass) is either a broadway show or a gym class. If there is no music and you’re not sweating, then maybe – just maybe – you’re in a cult.
I say all that, though, because I’ve been watching the Scientology expose and am fascinated at how that particular cult designed itself to shed all need to answer logic-based challenges.
Not simply by saying, “I believe. That’s enough.” But, by persecuting the people who challenge their beliefs.
I have a wide variety of friends and acquaintances who have a strong religious faith. Not a problem for me. Not a problem. BECAUSE. IT’S. NOT. MY. BUSINESS. Truly, it’s a boundary issue for keeping a relationship healthy, by being able to separate the things which challenge us into “important” and “unimportant” boxes, and accepting the value of the whole person, regardless of whether or not we agree on every point in life.
However, I was running around with one friend and talking about another friend who constantly tries to convert me to seeing her version of Jesus Christ.
Even though I’ve said repeatedly that I’m ok with whatever happens in the next life, and am fine being an agnostic. If heaven exists, and there is someone in charge, I’ve said often that he or she has some ‘splainin’ to do.
Lots and lots of ‘splainin’.
I will not go peacefully into the next world just because someone says they are in charge when I get to the pearly gates or the fiery ones. “Really? Good for you.” is likely to be my reactionary response.
Just because someone claims a position of authority over me doesn’t mean that they are the boss. I’m a big fan of topping from the bottom, if that’s what it takes to make your world workable.
(So, back to the point of our story)…
I was heading toward the movies, and talking about a friend who was raised Irish Catholic and is now a member of a Maranatha Church in the back woods of Maine. Evangellical Baptist. I very much care for this woman as a friend, but I merely tolerate her need to “get one for Jesus”.
I have other family and friends who are Jewish (and I am thankful that their faith requires them to NOT convert anyone to their faith as the Jews believe that Hell is on earth, and to be Jewish is to be particularly challenged in this life due to the attacks on their faith). **
My occasional housekeeper is Jehovah’s Witness.
My Moms’s best friend is Baptist.
My brother and sister self-identify as Roman Catholic, however, they are typical American Irish Catholic in that the church doesn’t have a big place in their lives, and their faith is mostly exercised in family events (baptism, weddings, deaths), and on high holy days (Christmas, Easter).
So many different versions of belief in my life, and I’m fine with each and every one of them. Most folks respect the boundaries when I state that I am not Christian, I am agnostic, and we usually agree to disagree. But, not the friend who is part of the Maranatha Church, and not the other friend who is Born Again Christian (whatever that means. I think it means to choose God for themselves as an Adult vs. simply being brought up in the Church, but I lose track after awhile) **.
So, we were heading toward the bowling alley because the movie we wished to see was sold out, and this friend asked me about something from FB, and we got started on Donald Trump and on faith in general. Wrong. Oh so wrong. The next thing I know, she’s arguing that she “knows” because she’s studied this closely, and that my Jehovah’s Witness friends are in an evil cult, as are my Mormon friends. “Magic underwear ! Seriously? They believe Satan was Jesus’s brother ! You need to read, “Evidence 4 Faith” to understand where the truth lies” she spouted passionately.
“B, I am never going to read anything that will talk me into one faith or another, or to position myself for the next life, because my logical mind just does not agree that anything anyone else could write would convince me. You forget, I was raised in a Church. I’ve been exposed to faith as a way to get through the hard parts where logical evidence, auditible evidence, does not appear exist. I was raised on the Catholic bible. I went to catechism as part of completing my religious education. I just don’t believe any versions of any faiths that I’ve seen so far, and I don’t feel the need to try and find a meaning.”
The thing that struck me about this argument, though, is that she believes because she cannot do otherwise. She cannot contemplate a world where she isn’t certain about where this life will lead, what guarantees result from a capricious, wrathful and apparently revenge motivated God, and what happens in the next world. Her very certainty, though, leaves me gasping, as doesn’t that search for the truth also negate the foundation of her faith? Either you believe or you don’t. Faith is not something you’re educated into believing (in my humble opinion).
So, into all of this enters the fight over Trump.
So many true believers start their arguments with, “God has chosen this man to lead us” (the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy). My instant response is, “Really?” If we cannot have a political leader elected without an all-powerful God’s blessing, then I guess he also chose Obama. You know, the man whose wife Franklin chose to call akin to the Whore of Babylon.
As long as Man is involved in religion, where one person feels that they have a right to direct my line of thought and correct me when I step out of line with their belief system, then I am going to call them out as being part of a cult. Yep. Just like Scientology.
If you need to spend all your time proclaiming your faith, in getting one for your faith, in criticizing others who don’t believe exactly as you do, even though they are people of faith and are morally harmless and upright, then the issue is with you, and not with the person you’re challenging.
Anyway, why did I write all this up? Because I’m tired. Tired of people being ugly to each other in the name of their God and their faith. I’m tired at how many people get diagnosed with a life threatening illness, such as COPD, and suddenly join the “I have all the answers” corps, and try and get one for Jesus. Many of them are appearing on my facebook feed because facebook links to EVERYTHING. And I’m getting tired of the ugliness. And the ugly claims that God has sent Trump to us. These are the same people who claimed that Obama was Satan on earth. Seriously? Sounds like a mighty convenient labeling system to me…
We’ve been going through a particularly ugly time in this country at present, and I find the invocation of God into this current political system more than I can tolerate. Trust me, God doesn’t need Donald Trump’s endorsement. If God exists, and he or she has something to say, I’d much rather get it from that God than from a blowhard mouthpiece.
As an Agnostic, I find Trump’s claiming God is ok with everything he’s done particularly distasteful, especially given Jesus’s actions in the temple with the money changers.
I find it particularly entertaining, though, that there were no fewer than 6 religious leaders on the inauguration platform with Trump. Because it was raining, I was wondering if he was trying to hide from a lightning strike by giving himself so much collateral for potential cover. The politicians he was surrounded by should have been enough, IMHO, but who knows what goes on in the mind of God or the mind of Trump?
I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next 4 years, however, I do know that there are over 5,000 recognized religions in this world, and that remodeling the white house to any particular branch of Christian faith is a huge move in the wrong direction. Separation of church and State is a key article of our constitution which should not be diluted.
We don’t need to become the cult of America. Capitalism and Greed are doing fine without our help.
** Disclaimer – I’m sure I got some of these descriptions wrong; don’t go crazy on me when replying, as I’m trying to explain a mix of understanding and conversations and other people’s beliefs **