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Meditation 169
True Faith

by Rev. Claude Shouse

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One of the worst (or perhaps absolutely the worst) idea permeating organized religion is the presumption that if one does not believe exactly according to the precepts of the organization, that person is doomed to eternal punishment. That God finds such a person less than deserving of a full and happy life. Such is the main theme of the Old Testament, the burning of heretics and so-called witches in the middle ages, the subjugation of native peoples of the New World by the Conquistadores, the motivation for countless wars throughout history and the justification for destruction of the World Trade Center.

There is no religious group immune from this dogma. If they do not practice it, it is only because they lack the means to do so. Given the power to impose their beliefs on the world at large, it is virtually inevitable that they will do so. After all, they are ”God’s Chosen”. The Man speaks to them directly and they speak back. He answers their prayers and guides their destinies.

The problem is, God seems to be saying different things to different people and a lot has to do with where you happen to live in the world. For those following a particular religion:

Those living in Provo, Utah, are probably Mormon.

In Selma, Alabama, Baptist.
In Padua, Italy, Catholic.
In Omsk, Russia, Orthodox.
In Tel Aviv, Israel, Jewish.
In Bogor, Indonesia, Muslim.
In Calcutta, India, Hindu.

You get the idea, it is not a difficult concept. But the bottom line is that if one belongs to a religious group, the primary motivation for group selection is cultural, not the truth of any particular religion or the validity of any particular world view. In other words, in the vast majority of cases, your religion is usually a by-product of where you live. It is an accident of birth. And therein lies a difficulty of anyone who thinks that they believe in the “True Faith”.

Throw a dart at the list above and wherever it lands, call that the “True Faith”. Or pick you own brand, it makes no difference. Now ask yourself, why does God seem to be favoring those with the “True Faith” on the basis of geographical origins? Is He just pissed off at all those other folks because they happen to be born in the wrong place? The efforts of evangelicals and the doctrine of Calvinists notwithstanding, (conversion to a different religion does absolutely nothing to invalidate the argument) the absurdity of such a notion is plain. The implication is that we are living in some kind of cosmic pinball machine wherein if we hit the right bumpers and get flipped a certain way or fall through the right holes we get a Free Play; that is, go to Heaven.

It is my fervent hope that people who think they possess “True Faith” will reassess that view and realize how empty the concept is.