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Organized religion 8

I always seem to have something on my mind; thankfully this website is a place for me to let it out instead of bottling it all up. Before I delve into a long diatribe about my resentment toward organized religion, I will make my disclaimer: I feel that a lot of good has come out of organized religion, and there are truly honest people out there who don’t take advantage or exploit religion for their own personal gain. My Aunt Linda is living proof of this.

But having said that, I think organized religion is also the cause of a lot of misfortunes in our world. First I’ll get the war thing out of the way. Religion has been the basis for hundreds of years of killing each other simply because one religion doesn’t see eye-to-eye with another religion. Imperialism and nationalism are also a large cause of wars, but religion is usually tied in with nationalism, and imperialism is a result of strong nationalism. I also see a lot of hate inside people from resentment toward other religions.

The next aspect about religion is the financial component. People donate substantial portions of their pay cheque to their churches. A lot of this money goes toward the upkeep of the church, property taxes, and some churches spend a substantial amount on the Minister/Priest of the church. I’m aware of churches where the Minister lives a relatively lavish lifestyle in a very sizeable home with all his expenses paid for, including University educations for his kids. I’m also aware of people who can’t even afford to send their own kids to University, but still dedicate a substantial portion of their pay cheque to the church only to watch the Minister’s children going to University out of the Church’s offerings.

One of the pillars of Islam includes obligatory almsgiving where wealthy Muslims must share a percentage of their wealth with the poor, but it doesn’t say that money needs to be given to the Church. I believe in skipping the “middle-man” and donating directly to those who need it. I feel very strongly against donating to a Church where perhaps only 5% of the money you donated will actually end up with the people who need it.

Don’t even get me started on Catholic Priests. There’s the story of the 2 Priests who apparently helped themselves to 8.6 million in collection plate money. How does a Church allow a Priest to steal 8.6 million?? Then there’s the never-ending list of Priests who like to touch youngsters; things like that happen when you ask a man to abstain from his natural human instincts for his entire life.

I truly believe many people in churches have good intentions, but sometimes money talks and serves to distort rational thought. I personally plan to explore all sorts of religions throughout my life, but you’ll have trouble finding me sitting in a pew and dropping a $20 in the collection plate.

  • Anonymous

    Yes Jim, I’ll agree with you that there are many churches, not to mention ministers/priests that are out to pad their own bank accounts and needs. The same applies to the regular business world Enron, etc. as am example, as well.

    Since the world began and the fall of Adam and Eve, there has been good and evil. It is just our responsibility to choose wisely, whether it’s a good church or honest business dealings with people. Lets face it, this is an evil world, but, there are some good people (like your aunt, Mother Theresa, etc) in this world.

    I guess God put us on earth for a purpose and to learn to live with one another and to love one another. Our purpose is to find our what His purpose for our is. I guess your aunt has found that out already. Others, it takes a life time. If we all did that, we wouldn’t be in the fix that we are in. Every man has his own agenda so it seems.

    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, because HE looks after all our needs if we trust in Him. And, we don’t mind giving to the “Lord” because HE DOES LOOK AFTER us if we trust in HIM for all things. It sure takes a lot of worry out of living and making those large decisions of life.

    And it is every believers responsibility to pick a church that you are being fed the Word of God, not some preacher’s ideas, like learning more about Jesus Christ and how to live your lives, doing His will, (not yours) which includes loving one another, even though that seems very hard to do at times, because some people are really unloveable. I guess you might call it a life time commitment.

    And Jim, there are some good churchs around, you just have to find them and be wise in choosing them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 Jim

    Dear Anonymous,

    First of all, I think the primary point of my article was missed. I think what I was trying to get across is that yes, some churches are corrupt; and yes, some churches are not corrupt. But even the churches that aren’t corrupt, I still disagree with the principle of donating money to this building and this minister just to pay for its very existence. How much of that money you donate to your church will actually get to the people who really need it? In my mind, if you want to do something good for the world, it takes more than putting some cash in an envelope and giving it to some church. I’ve known people who have donated their time and energy to build housing for poor people. In my mind those actions are really making an impact for others. Or even for people who don’t make the time for that, they can donate money to a specific cause that helps people. I just don’t think that money you donate to the church will get as far as it should because the church has a lot of overhead costs.

    I am a hypocrite for writing this because I don’t feel that I have done anything to make a difference to the world either, but I’m doing my best to figure out how I can best make an impact and hopefully I will put my words into action in the near future instead of sitting here as a cynical hypocrite.

    Now you really lost me in the preaching part of the comment. When you say everyone has a “purpose”, that’s one way to look at it. But I think life is what you make it. If you spend all your time trying to find out what “God’s purpose” is for you, you might miss the window of opportunity to make a difference. As for the “We will serve the Lord, because HE looks after your needs” and the “We don’t mind giving to the Lord because HE does look after us if we trust HIM for all things”, I don’t see the true meaning in this statement. When you donate money to a church, I don’t see how you’re giving to your Lord. To me, it’s a building and a minister you are giving money to. Sure, a small portion of your money helps people who need it, but not until the building and the Minister are paid first (as well as making sure his gets get a good education, etc).

    Sorry for being cynical, but I feel I need to question questionable things. Haha, “Question, questionable things”. I also don’t mean to disrespect your choices, but I’m trying to find out the true reasons people make these choices, but whenever I talk to overly religious people, I usually don’t feel like I’m getting any true depth. I feel like I’m getting the tip of the ice berg, but not any deeper. I feel like some people who fear the true reality of life oft turn to religion out of fear. I guess I just don’t get it.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jim,
    Giving to the church is,yes,money for the preacher and maintenance of the church and a small amount (our church gives 10% of all income)to needy people.By giving money to pay a preacher helps people in this way:The preacher teaches the word of God (bible)and it is to help the people learn how to lead a better life as well as trusting the Lord to give them direction in life which will enrich them in many ways.There are words in the bible which say that if you give generously to the church,you will somehow get much more back throughout your life.I am living proof that this is true as since I began to have ‘real’faith in God and giving 10% of my pay,I have had monetary rewards happen to me just when I needed it many times.(also when I didn’t need it)
    So,to sum it up,yes,believers and non-believers helping people in need is fantastic.But people also need to be taught to lead a good life.That is why we pay preachers,just like we pay school teachers.If people don’t want to learn,that is their choice,in school and in church.I didn’t like either when I was your age,but now I have learned that faith in God will help me more than any other thing in life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 Jim

    Maybe I just feel that if I wanted to learn about the Bible, I would just read it myself. I guess I just can’t appreciate the real value of learning from a preacher vs. learning on your own. Most of the preachers I’ve seen have too much fluff. I don’t feel like I’m really learning how to live my life; it’s more of a fantasy world. But that’s just my opinion ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 Jim

    I watched something on CNN tonight that talked about a church in the US that talked about wealth being a key component of Christianity, and that God wanted followers to be rich.

    I personally think it’s un-Christian to think that donating to a church will yield a return on investment. The preacher in the CNN interview said that giving to the church will bring you prosperity.

    I completely disagree with this and find it rather disturbing that people follow a religion because they feel they will be wealthy and go to heaven.

    I think people have totally missed the message of the Bible. It’s not about money, it’s about actions.

    Learning about this further reinforces my stance against organized religion.

  • Anonymous

    Jim,
    If you want to learn about what God wants for Christians,I suggest you read the Bible.Basing your beliefs on a CNN story is not exactly the best way to research the subject.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 Jim

    I think what I wrote was quite the contrary to basing my belief on a CNN article. I was disagreeing with the church profiled in the CNN story and I was disagreeing with the statement above where it was stated that giving to the church will somehow yield a return on your investment. I simply don’t believe that believing in a God and donating to a church should make you prosperous.

    There are many people that I know that don’t belong to any church, but their actions speak louder than money. They give to the community or the poor and they don’t expect anything back. I personally think it’s un-Christian to expect money back because of donating to a church, that’s just not what I believe in. But like I said, it’s just my opinion.

    I think people who are truly Christian are people who do unselfish acts. They need to truly do something and not expect something back. They need to do it to help others, not to enrich themselves or simply make themselves feel better.

    It’s like the United Way. Sure, the United Way is helping people, but many powerful executives involved with the United Way are doing it for their own political advantage; to make themselves look good. Some people do unselfish acts not because they want to look good, but because they truly want to help out.

  • Anonymous

    Jim,
    I think we are on the same page.People who are Christians or non Christians that do good things for others,are rewarded in some way.They do not,nor should not expect something in return.It’s just that good things will happen to them throughout their lives,because they are good people.Some believe it is God who is responsble for the good things,while others believe it’s just fate.Whatever the answer is,no one knows for sure,but we all should do what we can to help others in need.How we do that is up to us to do what we think is the best way.