Thursday, June 7, 2007


I like this comment I left on "Beelzebublog" so much that I'm reproducing it here:

'Churches are human institutions and so have all the flaws of political parties, social clubs, and planning committees. Jesus might have said, "Wherever two are gathered in my name, politics begins."

'Yes, for most people organized religions are pitfalls rather than gateways to God and realization of spiritual realities. That's especially true if the religious organization emphasizes laws and rules rather than individual contemplation.

'Beware of anybody who says, "Do as I tell you and God will like you."'

Afterthought. While many Americans obviously go to church because of genuine religious fervor, when over the years I've asked churchgoing friends why they went to church, I heard these answers again and again:

1. So our children won't feel embarrassed if they're asked what church they go to.

2. Because if you belong to a church there's always somewhere to go when you move to a new town.

3. To meet people.

And a one-time answer from the father of a family of Jewish birth which attended the Episcopal Church: "I would belong to the predominant religion of whatever society I lived in. When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

It's interesting that none of those answers has anything to do with "faith" or seeking salvation.


  1. Yes! this here post rings truth for me. As a child and all the way up to 30 years of age the words.. "Do as I tell you and God will like you," was always present. If I had questions I felt as if I was rebelling against. As a teenager I did rebel against. Nobody has the right to say God disapproves of you and so you are disfellowshipped! (I was disfellowshipped twice) To this day my sister and parents have nothing to do with me...if they did it would mean they would lose favor with thier egotistic God! It's so absurd. sometimes you just gotta laugh.

  2. I like your comment too, Fleming, partly because it's something to challenge!

    It's apparent throughout your post that churches meet people's perceived needs. That seems to me wholly good.

    Where churches are harmful, it seems to me, is not in their social aims but in their core beliefs. Fortunately most congregations don't take them seriously, to the point where one demonination (Freudian spelling mistake!) is as good as any other.

    Faith, the hope of salvation, God and realisation of spiritual realities have very little to do with churches, and it is just as well: for these are activities which only an individual can pursue.

    Isn't that obvious?

  3. My main reason for going to church as a child: My family made me!

    Now? I only go when other family members or friends get married or have some other event. Otherwise I don't feel that particular need in my life.

  4. Wow, what a lot of comments so soon! Thank you Kathy, Yves, and Shelley.

    Like Shelley, the only reason I went to church except for a brief spell of adolescent dementia was because my parents made me. They made me because their parents made them. But I didn't suffer anything like the extreme family pressures that Kathy did. Congratulations, Kathy, for standing on your own!

    Yves, you're going to be disappointed that I don't see your comment as a challenge. I agree with you! As far as the beneficial social functions of churches are concerned, I find myself thinking lately that without those churches which really try to practice charity and "love thy neighbour" we would live in a much more harsh and bleak society.

    But when it comes to their laws and most of their doctrines, the "demoninations" deserve the new name you've given them.

  5. kathy, for what it`s worth, i`m sorry for the loss of your family to dogma. and yes, you gotta laugh.


    that about sums it up.

    i went to the anglican church as a child in england and didn`t get a sense of anything but honouring the earth (harvest festival.) it wasn`t until my father`s pressure to get me into the catholic church that i began to see the other sides to the social control and induction of fear.

    but nobody but the military can induce social control and/or fear like the church, and as such is necessary. otherwise we`d be back to public hangings and people put into the stocks.