Updated: Oct 16
Let me begin by saying that I am respectful of all religions but because they were all created by man, even though they worship God, they are all imperfect in one way or another. Personal interpretation of God’s word and the word of God’s messengers is one area where imperfection can occur. Within that arena there has always been room for personal bias, ego, intellectual flaws, errors in translation and peer pressure to influence the end result. You know what they say about collaborative creativity – the group starts out trying for a horse and ends up with a camel.
Although this Blog post is not meant to dissuade anyone from being a member of a religious group I’m pointing out the obvious; make the reason to worship God, not to deify those in charge. Coming together with like-minded souls to glorify the Almighty provides countless benefits besides raising your prayers in a collective voice. In fact, we don’t have enough of community in our overall society today so gathering together is good, yet, it’s smart to remember that holding any church, temple or religious institution above common man is naive.
Institutions in the last few decades have crumbled before us, religious institutions and their leaders are not without inclusion. There have been sex scandals within these institutions involving rape, abuse and child trafficking throughout the world. The most visible of late have been those surrounding the Catholic Church but less we forget other other religious leaders getting caught with their metaphorical and literal pants down. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Protestant leaders including the Episcopal, Baptist and Mormon churches; televangelists such as Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, James Falwell and Jimmy Lee Swaggart representing a variety of Christian religions were also in the headlines over the last three decades.
Worldwide we can find the same story of institutional and personal corruption and abuse: Gilbert Deya, Kenyan Evangelist; Mount Cashel Orphanage in New Zealand with the Christian Brothers of Ireland and clear up to the Vatican Leaks Scandal (Benedict XVI) among the most notable covering up everything from financial dealings to abuse.
The conclusion – all human beings.
This brings me to a message I received in January, 2020 from Mary, Mother of God, who rarely came to me in the last thirty-years of being a “closet-medium” – only 5-times. I don’t interpret when these messages come, I take dictation – word-for-word, even if they don’t make sense when I’m writing, they make total sense when I read the document back afterword. I don’t judge, I just write. This is what Mother Mary said:
“Most don’t know where to turn, who to believe and they hide from the obvious, God. They believe religion is the path to that end. It is not. Let them know that. You are the perfect example of religious tolerance but (with) restraint. You don’t need others to clear the path to God. You can do that yourself. They don’t need that either. Show them all through your example.”
Some people need the company of others periodically in their lives and places to worship are a perfect outlet. That is a good thing but I remind everyone that the point of these gatherings should always be to embrace brotherhood, love one another and worship the Almighty not to wear the mantle of the institution as some kind of an elevated status or to make one group of people better than another.
If human imperfection isn’t enough to give you a clear perspective of how organized religions may be flawed – institutional imperfection (human imperfection on a grand scale) should do it. In the name of religion, one religion wages war with another. Within individual religions there are conflicts upon conflicts – Christians have splintered into this group and that, each with a different slant on their interpretation of the bible. Some teach they are better than others and most teach it’s their way or the highway; not sure God meant for that to happen.
There isn’t even consistency within a single religion - the Roman Catholic Church serves as an example. They taught about Limbo of the Infants since Medieval times, specifically that this is the place infants’ souls were sent if not baptized within the Catholic Church prior to death. A dreadful teaching which was rescinded in 2007. Other Catholic decrees have been changed over the years, too: slavery was first formally criticized in 1839 – prior to that it was accepted as long as the slave master was kind; the Latin mass faded away in the early 1960’s – when, since 1570 it had been a sacred tradition ; a stronger opposition to the death penalty occurred in 1995. I’m sure other religions’ man-made rules were also modified over the years. But even the rules or traditions that ended had a fairly recent beginning – the Medieval times and 1570, for examples. Again always established by man. Today, there is some dialogue about one day making celibacy among priests a thing of the past. Many Christian religions have now allowed women into their ministry and today there are also women Rabbis and Torah scholars.
It would be fine for religions to be flexible but not when their teachings are preached to be so soverign – even over trivial issues. To my point, it’s those inconsistencies that make a person doubt the absolute nature of religious institutions.
God, Himself, is much more relatable, simple, non-judgmental and loving.
My friend Cathy summed it up when she came to me on two different occasions. Cathy passed away in 2016. She was a devout Mormon toward the end of her life and I was concerned for her since she was had never married and she had mentioned to me once that, according to LDS teachings, a woman had to be invited into heaven by her husband. If she was not married, a man would be appointed to invite her in. Anyway, I was concerned for my friend. Then, the first time she came was only a week or so after Cathy had died, Right away I asked her if she had to be invited into heaven and she responded very sweetly but directly:
“No, that wasn’t true. But they meant well.”
The second time, on this same subject, was a number of years later when she said:
“Religion is odd. Men do screw it up. Starts out pure and then egos, intellect and peer pressure distort the purity. Then we hurt each other. Boy, “control” is deadly.” Cathy was referring to how some religions do control us with so many restrictions and rules to follow in order to be one of their “faithful”. And, to use fear as a tool for submission.
Tragically, we spend so much of our time trying to be good at a particular religion when really what we’re trying to do is be good at a bunch of man-made rules. We’re asked to attend church weekly or even more often to be truly devout. That seems odd to me since a person can sit in a garage all day and that doesn’t make them a car. Being in a particular place has no relationship to one’s closeness to the Almighty.
The heart of religion is having a connection with God but to find that connection we don’t need the community of others, nor do we need a massive structure which costs tithings to maintain, nor do we need ceremony to maintain our focus. Being close to God only requires an open heart and a willingness to receive His love.
There’s nothing man can do to screw that up.