wife, a psychiatric nurse, and I usually watch ER on Thursday
nights. Recently, the plot involved a meeting between
Laura Innes' character, Dr. Kerry Weaver, and her mother,
Helen Kingsley, played by Frances Fisher. [Trivia: The
role was wrongly billed to Sissy Spacek who had to drop
out.] The two had never seen each other since Kerry's
birth when she was given up for adoption. When Helen,
an evangelical Christian, discovers that her long-lost
daughter is a lesbian, she makes it clear that Kerry's
lifestyle is an abomination to God and to herself. Meanwhile,
in the background is heard the music of the touring choir
of which Helen is a part - "Just As I Am."
got me thinking. As a minister who served the church
for almost half a century, I find it painful to say
what is becoming ever more clear - much of what religion
does and teaches can only be characterized as evil.
This is a frightening conclusion because, of course,
it makes religion guilty of the very thing which it
claims to oppose.
religions seem to have become more political in recent
years. And with that development comes a decline in
true spirituality and an increase in violence against
the children of God. Some examples are obvious:
which sanctified murder through Crusade and Inquisition;
which burned people as witches in the name of Jesus;
which stated that it is acceptable to own slaves,
as my former denomination did in 1845;
that supports suicide bombers who destroy innocent
people because they are seen as enemies of God;
which makes it possible for priests to abuse children,
and which protects the criminals rather than defending
can these abuses be tolerated by civilized peoples?
How can they be perpetrated by those who claim to be
motivated by the love of God? It is because of fundamental
teachings which are still part of religious belief systems
who does not believe as I do is an infidel, an enemy
are second class citizens who do not qualify in God's
sight for ordination;
have chosen to be that way and God will punish them
for their lifestyle;
sees all people as worthless sinners deserving damnation;
is appropriate for the church to enrich itself while
teachings are wrong. They qualify as evil because of
the evil consequences they produce. They are wrong by
the Bible's own standards. In Acts 10:15 we read, "Do
not call anything impure that God has made clean."
Yet we insist on calling women or blacks or gays or
those in other faiths unclean, and it is our smug assurance
that those who disagree with us are enemies of God which
culminates in religious violence and murder.
after the war, claimed to be innocent of the Holocaust.
"We didn't know what was happening -- the atrocities
were performed by those in power." But they were
part of a system which made those horrors possible.
Religious people must stop shutting their eyes to the
abuses caused by their negative belief systems. They
must rise up against the leadership and demand dramatic
changes. Otherwise, we will all be responsible for the
destructive consequences of outmoded religious teachings.
Religion is definitely part of the problem. In the 21st
century, we must make it part of the solution.
John W. Sloat 2005