Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Anti-religion lessons from Jesus

This blog is a pretty bold thesis, saying that we can learn lessons from Jesus that are anti-religion. This blog was inspired by a recent news article related to a federal judge ordering a school "to stop promoting religion and prayer in the classroom and at school events".

At first I reacted negatively. I am religious. I pray. This is obviously anti-religion and anti-prayer. But then I started thinking about it. My recent study of Jesus' words came to mind. Jesus was very critical of the religion of his time. I could exhaust you with examples. A whole book in Matthew is dedicated to his criticisms. Here's an excerpt:

Matthew 23
1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

It's interesting that even with an oppressive, secular government (the Roman's), most of Jesus' criticisms were reserved for the Jews. One of the few comments he had for the Roman government was "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s". This was of course a response to a question from the religious people he was criticizing, and they were trying to trap him with a trick question.

It's also interesting that the religious people are responsible for bringing him to trial and crucifying him. When the secular government (Pilate) found no fault with Jesus and tried to show mercy and release Jesus, the religious leaders chose to release the dangerous Barabbas instead.

Do people have a right to fear religion? Sadly yes. Even today religion fuels many violent conflicts.

What should religious people do? The answer is simple. Live your religion.

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