Religious people don’t always intentionally give religion a bad name but we do. The word religion doesn’t always ring a positive note in the minds of those who hear the word. If I replace the word religion with spirituality, negative connotations don’t often come to mind. True religion should inspire positive thoughts similar to true spirituality. I define true religion as loving others like you want to be love in good and bad times. For this discussion my definition will include a belief in a Reality beyond us that seeks to inspire such love.
The religious can give religion a bad name by insisting on certain beliefs necessary to be truly spiritual or even accepted by God.
Such beliefs have a way of communicating that God doesn’t accept them unless they come to share your personal beliefs. Unfortunately, the Bible has become a Book we tend to revere more than the God that the Book is about. The Bible was never meant to replace one’s relationship with God for comfort and guidance. Biblical scholars who respect the Bible don’t agree, but the religious insist on certain views rather than respecting one’s right to determine their own convictions in their relationship with God.
The religious sometimes insist the Bible defines roles between the sexes according to gender than individual gifts. I can assure you this means men are always in leadership or authoritative positions over women. The religious insist that the Genesis story must be read as literally or metaphorically. Both sides are guilty of close-mindedness despite PHDs on either side. Regardless of genre spiritual truths can be discerned but the religious insist on their views rather than discussing spiritual food for thought.
Catholics often insist their leaders can’t be married. Where does the Bible insist on this? Baptists insist on not drinking alcohol or participating in certain amoral activities. Where does the Bible insist on that? Religious folks separate into separate sects or Denominations led by certain doctrines that others are expected to believe in eventually. Sometimes the heresy word is thrown out. Religion ceases to be true religion when non-moral differences divide. Religious people share an understanding of a deeper Reality than themselves but divide into their different groups.
True religion doesn’t insist on any beliefs other than the Law of Love which entitles all to form their own personal beliefs as long as they don’t violate the rights of others.
True religion seeks to serve and not to be served. True, religious people don’t seek to convert others but to encourage one another as they strive to love others as themselves. True religion seeks to inspire others that unselfish love leads to personal freedom. For those who believe there is a God, we only want others to know God loves us in hopes we will feel empower to reflect such love back to others.