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Does God belong in religion?

Some would answer that God is religion. But whose God … and whose religion?

Having been raised a Catholic by my father and a Baptist by my mother, I can attest to the confusion of it all. Where does God live and whose religion is the right one?

Once I became an adult (some would argue the validity of that statement), I began my belief that organized religions have little to do with what God wants from us.

When you go back to the days of “Little House on the Prairie”, it’s easy to understand what churches/synagogues were meant to do. In those days people often lived miles from each other and the only time many would come together would be Sunday mornings or Friday nights for services.

In those days churches and synagogues served as a meeting place, a gathering of neighbors and a way to exchange information, goods and prayers for those who needed them; a place to share good tidings and burdens equally. It wasn’t uncommon for the pastor/rabbi to provide different services for different religions and to use their time together to appeal to the congregation for help should a fellow citizen be in need.

I think we’ve lost a lot of that in today churches and synagogues. It’s an awful lot about money now. Who has it and who gets it, blessings for sale?

While so much of religion is about money, I can’t help but think that God isn’t. I’ve seen the same people get called to the Altar or Bima to perform a task of honor. I’ve noticed it’s never the poor that get asked to do so. It’s the contributors; the big ones. There is something inherently wrong with that.

I really don’t think God loves gays or lesbians any less. So why should we? I’m told by a lot of God fearing people that I’m dead wrong about that. I do know that when religion excludes people it becomes a lot less godly.

I think we’d all be better off if we just minded our own business, help people and animals when we can and live kindness as a verb and not a noun. Judgement is not our job. Respecting differences is respecting life.

It is no secret that some of the world’s bloodiest wars were fought in the name of religion. They still are. What could be more ungodly than war?

So much gets pinned on God. I don’t think God sends hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, fires, or famines to teach or punish us. Call it a hunch.

I’m the wrong person to ask about heaven and hell, although I do believe in an afterlife and my experience has shown me that good versus evil is ever present in our day to day. I respect it.

There seem to be a lot of rules about getting in to heaven but I haven’t heard much about how to stay there. Maybe once you’re “in” you’re set for eternity; although I do recall a fallen angel that didn’t make the grade.

The rules for pleasing and engaging God have changed through the ages. I doubt he had anything to do with any changes. I figure him to be a pretty consistent guy. People think they know God and many have assumed to speak for him. I would caution you to be careful who you listen to. It’s tricky business.

All in all I just try to keep my nose clean. Those Ten Commandments are pretty decent writing and a good rule of thumb for being a good person. I try to stay in those lines but I’m not perfect. I love unconditionally and I work very hard at not judging other people, but I do lose patience with people who do.

I believe that there is a powerful presence of goodness and love. I assume it comes from God, but I would never assume that if things didn’t go right for me that it was his fault. Too many people do I’m afraid. I guess God makes a good scapegoat.

I don’t depend on ancient parchment writings, although some make some pretty good reading. They serve as a guide but when you begin to interpret something that is thousands of years old, well, something is bound to be lost in translation.

I trust my heart and a little something called faith. Not any particular faith, as my search continues. But a faith in goodness and humanity and the need for all of us to be and do all that we can. For everyday the clock is ticking and we will surely be one less by morning.

I have never met God. I hope to some day. I’m not sure what I will say to him, but I hopefully have some time to think about it and maybe practice a little. I will probably be a little nervous.

I do know that I will tell him how valuable my faith was to me in times of sadness, healing, despair and hope.

I think I’ll leave religion out of it.  I have a feeling he will understand.

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Maureen - “Respecting differences is respecting life”…oh, does that not hit it squarely on the head. So well put – and would that everyone would live by that advice – Thank you again Tammy, for cutting right to the point!

Joan Cooper - Well, Tammy – you have chosen a subject most people want to avoid. Next thing we know you will be talking politics.

I, too, have experience with different religious practises. I have summed it up in one sentence – ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.

Of course it would not fill a church, temple etc, or an offering plate. Who said money is the root of all evil. Never more true that now.

While religion may give comfort and support, in my view, it also encourages a lack of responsibility. God provides….etc.

mickey - couldn’t have said it better myself. historically, religion has wrought havoc- faith and spirituality
has not. god is within all of us- we don’t need the trappings and spectacle of churches, temples and mosques to find him

Carmen - Wow!!! Very powerful and very true article. Thank you.

I say “AMEN”

Tammy - Hi Maureen, it sounds so profound when you say it. Haa! Wouldn’t you think that it’s just common sense?? Evidently not so much. There is so much I don’t understand about human nature. Thanks for posting!!

Jeffrey Davidson - I think you are correct in that God has little to do with religion.
I believe that what is right for one is not necessarily right for another. Therefore, between religions, there is no right or wrong. The only right or wrong may be within the teachings of an individual religion ie: this religion teaches “ABC.” Therefore, if you believe in this particular religion the “XYZ” is incorrect.
Live your life considerate and understanding of others, sharing, caring and loving. Most of the Ten Commandments are good!
The only religions that I have no tolerance for are those that promulgate intolerance and hatred of others and that their way is the “right way” and there are no other ways to be.
Keep blogging. It will stimulate others to think!

Tammy - Hi Joan, Interesting point you made about how religion may encourage a lack of responsibility – ‘God will provide’. I have never given that any thought and must consider that perhaps it does. Or perhaps faith is to some a reason to lean on others. I’d like to think not. Money matters. I get that. But faith, the spirit, the people, well, they all seem to get lost in the fray of it all so much of the time. I have tired of seeing the Vatican with all its gold, rubies, treasures while also seeing so many poor go without. I’m still trying to figure out how Mother Theresa was a Catholic. It’s all so much to take in and digest the fairness of. Until it all makes sense to me I think I shall go along with you and do unto others. Thanks for your two cents; it was worth so much more!

Tammy - Hi Mickey, next time maybe you should write the blog. You said it so concisely. I know of a lot of established churches and synagogues that do wonderful things for their people but I also know there are so many political agendas, bloated salaries and polarizing beliefs. I’m at a quandary to understand why so much hate stems from religious beliefs. It’s all so ridiculous. So happy to hear from you. Thanks for chiming in, you’re awesome!

Tammy - Hi Carmen, allow me to say AMEN back, sister! Thanks for being here and posting!

Tammy - Hi Jeff, I also have pity little tolerance for religions and the people who follow them who feel it holy to suppress others by withholding rights, freedoms and inducing punishments. I’m willing to bet big bucks that God never wrote those rules! It feels so much of the time that religion is about power and money when it should be about soulful awakenings, sharing and helping each other and loving our neighbors. Oh, that’s just me being silly again. I shall keep blogging … but to stimulate myself to think. You are cordially invited to come along for the ride. Thanks for post, Jeff, appreciate you being here.

Jeffrey Davidson - Money! Hmm! If you believe in God then it doesn’t matter whether you are poor and pray in the gutter or a multi-million dollar religious structure.
I’m there for the ride but keep it smooth for me for a while!

Cheryl Shaw - My Dear, This is a huge subject to tackle and unfortunately there are no easy answers. I completely agree with you. I have also heard the theory that religion was basically invented to control populations. It appears to be working. We do realize there are many people in the world who are all about getting and having power.
I, like you, do have faith in a God and feel that God does not approve of all the atrocities committed in the name of religion and “God” nor does God appreciate all the riches held by churches, in property and lavish facades. In my opinion, if ALL people followed the Golden Rule, which exists in all religions, we could maybe all get along. Coming from an evangelical kind of background, I also mistrust people who get off on all of their good works and how many souls they personally have brought to Christ—-how sanctimonious. There is a place in the Bible that says the goal of a Christian is to plant the seed for conversion in others by the life you lead. It is not important to know if YOU are the one who has influenced and changed a life. That is a tall order as I have yet to meet anyone who is perfect.
I do enjoy the music that I hear which is often religious in nature.
I’m sure this is more than you wished to have to read.
I so miss you and our visits on many subjects.

Tammy - Hi Cheryl, Yes, it is a huge subject. One that has garnered me a bit of hate mail. Hey, you’re nobody till somebody hates you, right? We are kindred spirits on the same page of religious thought. I too love the music .. all of it. That is what I miss the most. I too miss our thoughtful moments where we solved all the worlds problems, we will just have to consipre here. So happy to have you on the other side of my blog. Thanks for posting, it was awesome.

Janna - It’s not money is the root of all evil but the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.

Tammy - You are right, of course, Janna, it is the love of money which is the root of all evil. To blame money for ill doing would be like blaming a car for a murder in a driving accident or a gun for a shooting. Thanks for your input, it’s great to know that you are out there!

Mel Glenn - Dear Tammy,
I like the purity of your faith and your resolute belief in the goodness and humanity in people.
More wars have been fought over organized religion than practically anything else.
I also like the clarity and breeziness of your other essays as well and I promise to be a faithful follower of your columns.

Tammy - Hi Mel, I’m so delighted having you as a fan! I do have a belief in the goodness of humanity. I see and feel it all around me. Goodness abounds, but there also seems to be an endless supply of hatred and bigotry. Life is hard enough. Faith brings people together, religion seems to tear them apart. Knowing the difference between the two is salvation. So very happy to have you here, thanks for posting.

Agastyan - God is like liquid, it takes shape of the container. Precisely it depends on your perception. So god even can be an agnostic or atheist.

Tammy - Agastyan, so very interesting! Well spoken. Appreciate the note.

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