Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One true correct

Today on Facebook, a friend of mine posted, "Every religion thinks it's the one true correct religion. Assuming there is one, they can't all be right."

She herself is not religious, and she is not the first person I've heard say this — or the hundredth. I think it's a pretty common perception about religion. I didn't say anything on Facebook, because I'm not interested in shaming people or getting into a battle about it.

But in case I have readers who deeply believe that to be true — it's not.

Some religious people (including a handful I've met) think their religion is the one true correct one. I've met some of those folks.

But I don't.

Almost none of the religious people I know think that.

Most of the religious people I know think their religion is the one that works best for them, right now. Many, many of the religious people I know have shifted religions, embrace folks of other religions or no religion or something in-between.

And there are lots of religions that are pretty explicit that that religion itself does not exclude other religions or religious doctrines, even among its own followers.

Like I said, not looking for a fight on this — just correcting a misperception I see a lot. Be careful of words like "every" and "all."

In other news, it's 35° here. Feels like June.


icanhasyarn said...

Since I'm the one who posted this comment, I figure I should clarify it.

I don't believe that every religious person thinks this way, but I do think that the *leaders* of most of the major religions do, especially many of the denominations of Christianity. It's why they exhort their followers to convert more people and bring them into the fold. I get that in many cases they see it the same way as they see an obligation to save someone who is drowning -- they sincerely believe that people who don't believe as they do are doomed to eternal torment, and they are committed to doing everything they can to prevent that. But if the person isn't interested in being "saved", they should back off -- and many times they don't.

icanhasyarn said...

Oh, and also - there are many in this country who would like to see Christianity (though I doubt they agree on which flavor) made the national religion, the Bible taught and prayer required in schools, and so on. I realize that most normal, sane people don't think this way, but there are enough of them in our government (including the courts) to make me truly nervous for future generations.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

You were the catalyst this time, ichy, but you are for sure not the only person I know who feels that way. In fact, this isn't the first time I've started a post like this — it's just the first time I've finished it.

And I'm sorry to hear about the experiences many folks I know have had in which they've been aggressively targeted by religious people who wanted to convert them. That is a nuisance and sometimes actively frightening.

As a lifelong religious person who faith-hopped a little in her younger years but has mostly identified as some form of Christian, I have never, ever been exhorted to convert others. The religious leaders I know best (including but not limited to Christian ones) do not believe their faith is the only correct one. Any "bringing people into the fold" talk has been, in my experience, along the lines of, "If you have a friend who you think might enjoy our faith community, invite 'em to church some Sunday." And frankly, even that is semi-rare. Among major religions that are not Christian or Muslim, I think conversion is much rarer — even discouraged. Even the most hard-core, conservative adherents of Judaism may believe that they are chosen, but they don't try to convert other people to the cause. I think Hinduism is similar, though I admit my knowledge there is limited.

I share your nervousness over certain strains of Christianity's influence in our government. I think most people who are paying attention actually do, too. I think a lot of folks aren't paying attention.

I'm interested to hear from others; I know I have readers who are religious and non-religious and spiritual and of many different traditions. My story's just one, and my circle of friends is probably pretty self-selected to include folks who don't make me uncomfortable all the time.

What say you?

Joe said...

Well, I am no expert theologian, but as a lifelong Catholic, I will say that I cannot recall any disparaging remarks about other religions from church leaders, and I've never been urged to recruit others into the fold.
That's not to say these things don't occur, but it has been my experience.
But getting back to the original discussion. Do leaders of religions believe that theirs is "the one true faith," etc.? I think it's inherent in the teachings for many religions, no? I'm not saying it's right, but there's a reason they want people to show up to their particular house of worship each week. You need numbers to thrive.
Now, this is usually the part when critics claim that "religion is for people who can't think for themselves," which, and I apologize, is a crock of shit. Many of us follow a faith as a means of reinforcing the values that we have in our homes. I don't necessarily buy everything they're selling, but there's a lot of good in the Good Book, too. It's a personal choice, as is the decision not to belong to a particular faith.

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