When you hear the word religion what do you think of? More than likely it is something associated with an organized religion. You think of a church, God, and maybe some sort of holy book like the Bible. It is also quite possible that the concept of religion stirs up this negative sentiment in you. I can understand that sentiment, but at the same time I have news for us, we’re all religious. One of the definitions merriam-webster.com gives religion is “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” Religion is as narrow as our own personal set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices and as wide as one of the major world religions.
This is what perhaps irks me when religion is basically reduced down to the Christian religion. In the effort to have freedom from religious influence we forget that a religion is really a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices. These attitudes, beliefs, and practices are usually centered around an important figure or figures, such as God, self, or family, or an important idea and/or ideas such as equality, peace, freedom, or money. This boils down to us all being religious in some way, shape, or form. Ones that are a bit more organized and accepting of the religion label like Christianity get kicked to the curb, while people don’t even notice religions that are centered around self, money, or the concept of freedom. It seems to some people tossing out the religion card simply gives them a free pass not to engage the ideas presented in an organized religion. The truth is that we are all as humans innately religious without even trying to be. We naturally form convictions and beliefs even if we’ve never officially associated with one of the “official” religions.
So at this point I’ve made my case, we’re all religious. We all have certain attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Some of us center them around God and his teaching, others maybe center them around a certain belief or person, while the rest probably don’t even really think like this they just do whatever seems like the right thing to do, or what they want to do. So why is this a bad thing? I’m sure many have heard or perhaps even said something like “religion is the cause of all evil.” Now this is usually tossed toward Christianity or Islam, but if all of us are religious then well I would have to agree with this statement. The problem with religions, whether they are our own personal thoughts, the thoughts of a great thinker, or the thoughts of God is that we can easily produce systems that are unyielding and are only really interested about our cause and think that the rest of the world can burn.
This can be seen in Christianity where people are more interested in the morality of Christianity and holding everyone to that, instead of displaying grace and mercy which is also pretty heavily taught. It can also be seen in the ones who cry out for equality for all people unless that person disagrees with their view. It can be displayed in the people who lift up tolerance as their guiding light and yet turn around and so easily resort to name calling under the belief that being intolerant to those I think are intolerant is okay. Ultimately, our religions become a religion where we only really care about the people who agree with us and maybe the people who are somewhat indifferent. Those who disagree, well you have no place here and we want nothing to do with you, in fact the world would be better off without you.
We are really unable to quarantine a portion of the population off as religious. Everybody is, you may accept it or you may not, but I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion. It may be a religion of one, or of a small group of friends, a local organization, or a worldwide organization but they’re all religions.