ANOTHER VOICE is back and online again….
For many people, a vacation is a time of R&R: Rest and Recuperation. For me my days of R&R were that but also another kind of R&R: Reflections about Religion – with serious concerns about contemporary religious distortions, like QAnon.
QAnon is particularly alarming. The QAnon conspiracy movement uses overt religious language linking itself directly to the Bible, to Christianity, and to God’s work in the world. The current US president does not question the truth behind the claims of the QAnon conspiracy movement but offers them his help, praises them for “loving their country,” and for supporting him. QAnon members in fact are a politically-focused religious cult and they believe the current US president is a divinely-sent Messiah who is working at great personal cost to defeat “leftist evil” people and to usher in a great golden age American Utopia. QAnon, like a contemporary virus, is unhealthy religion.
All religions are organized systems of beliefs and practices (symbols, rituals, codes of conduct, etc.) that, ideally, point people to the Divine and help them find answers for the ultimate questions of human life. Ideally, religion interprets and strengthens authentic faith experiences. Sometimes however, religion focuses more on ideology than faith and becomes a an unhealthy cult that worships its leaders and controls people through emotionally-charged rhetoric, falsified information, and unquestioned obedience to authoritarian leaders.
The signs of healthy religion and unhealthy religion are very clear. Healthy religion maintains a balance between belief and moral behavior. When this balance is lost one risks slipping into a form of religion that becomes an impersonal and dehumanizing ideology.
Some R&R : “Reflections about Religion” for contemporary consideration:
1. Healthy religion is grounded in contemporary Reality with all of its ups and downs. Unhealthy religion is grounded in fantasy and longs for the good old days, which of course were only good for a select segment of society. Consider, for example, nineteenth and early twentieth century white, Anglo-Saxon, male-dominant, Protestant America.
2. Healthy religion builds bridges between people. Unhealthy religion builds walls and creates barriers separating people into qualitative classes of people.
3. Healthy religion promotes a basic sense of trust and relatedness to people and to the universe.
4. Healthy religion stimulates and encourages personal reflection, questioning, and responsibility.
5. Healthy religion promotes human sexuality as a mutually affirming way of living and being with self and others. It does not use and abuse others just for personal (“Grab ’em by the pussy”) genital gratification.
6. Healthy religion encourages intellectual honesty and a serious examination of doubts and uncertainties.
7. Unhealthy religion stresses feelings rather than thoughtful reflection. It is afraid to question.
8. Healthy religion supports and empowers people.
9. Unhealthy religion imposes power OVER people in often dismissive and demeaning ways.
10. Healthy religion promotes hope-filled love, compassion, and collaboration.
11. Unhealthy religion demonizes one’s opponents and validates hatred, cruelty, and violence.
12. The historical Jesus practiced and advocated healthy religion. Healthy and genuine Christians follow his example.