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- The Role of Religion in History & Society
How to Find Religion and Decide Which One is Right for You
How Many Religions are There?
It doesn't matter if you are looking at religion for the first time in your life or have started to question the legitimacy of the religion you were raised in, at some point doubt, confusion or just plain old curiosity will creep into your mind. The religion that we choose to follow will have an impact on the way we live our lives.
According to Wikipedia, the list of known religions in the world is extremely large. Examining each of the listed religions individually would take a lifetime of study that frankly, we just don't have time for here today.
The conclusion is that there are thousands of religions to study and choose from that are based on beliefs from all over the world. This poses the question at hand. How do you choose the right religion? They all firmly believe that they are the way but if that's true, wouldn't all of them but one be wrong and those people condemned to hell for eternity?
How do You Know Which Religion is Correct?
There are so many different interpretations of just the Bible. Not to mention any of the other holy books that go hand in hand with religion. These books and their meanings are like religion manuals. They tell the religion's followers things that they should and should not do in order to acquire salvation and be allowed into heaven, or other like places, for eternal life after they die.
Thing is, according to Yahoo Answers, there are 8 different versions of just the Bible alone. Let me repeat that. 8 different versions of the Bible.
Let me tell you where I'm going with this. When you were a child, did you ever play the game "telephone?" Someone makes a statement into someone else's ear and that person tells the person next to them what they heard and so on. If you line up 8 people and play this game, what do you think you are going to get in the end? Usually something completely different than what you started with. The same thing happens when translating and each time something is changed in the book world, the meaning can be altered to mean something completely different in the end.
So when we look at the Bible and it's eight different versions, which one of those is correct and not influenced by the individual that translated it? This makes the question of which religion is correct a hard question to answer any way except for, no one could ever possibly know for sure which religion is 100% correct.
Truth is, followers of each religion will tell you that their religion is the correct one that will provide you with salvation and ever lasting life. Some people are actually a danger to others when it comes to their religion as can be seen by fanatical religious groups in areas of the United States. Glorying things like American soldiers being killed overseas, demeaning the memory of well known public figures and just spewing hatred and negativity everywhere they go. Not a great tactic for attracting more members I'm sure.
With all of the different views, translations, beliefs and actions taken by religions all over the world, it is impossible to know for sure which actually is God's true religion.
The Church is Big Business
Giving your weekly donation to the church is referred to as your tithe. The meaning of the word tithe is 1/10th. In times past, this 1/10th of your possessions was the donation amount that members were to give to the church.
Today the Christian Church says that you should still give 10%. It isn't 10% of your belongings anymore though. Now it is 10% of your income. So the church wants you to tithe with your cold, hard cash.
Let's take a closer look at exactly how much a church with say... 200 families (4 people per family X 200= 800 members) would make in a year if each family followed the "10%" rule, shall we?
USA Today reported on 2/9/2012 that the average American household income is $51,413.00 so we'll use that figure even though we all know that some churches get better luck in their member's household income. So we take the $51,413.00 and multiply that by .10 which is 10% for a total tithe from each family being $5,141.13. Multiply that by the 200 families that belong to the church and that church can expect to draw in $1,028,226.00 per year. Yes, you saw that correctly. That's a million dollars a year in tithes.
Some churches are better at managing their money than others and really do good things for their communities. The question remains about the others. Where is the money going? If more members would take a look at this and ask to see the books more often, they would see that all is not as it appears to be in some of these larger churches around the country.
Taxes and the Preacher
Some people were disgusted when they heard that President Obama paid taxes at a lower rate this past tax year than his secretary because of income tax loop holes. I wonder how up at arms individuals would be if they knew that Pastors have all kinds of tax breaks available to them. Including being able to file a form to be exempt from from self-employment tax if it is "against their religion" and they are opposed to public insurance.
Kind of makes some people get into the "business" of being a minister or pastor for all the wrong reasons.
Which brings up another question, what if your pastor is wrong?
What if the pastor of the church you belong to is misinterpreting the lessons of the Bible that they are teaching to the followers of the church? How would you know for sure that it's a misinterpretation? Does God hold that against you in the end?
Conflicts in Religious Belief and Society Today
There are quite a few conflicts of interest between religious views and the actions and events that happen in today's society.
The assignation of Osama Bin Laden is a perfect example. People all around the world belonging to many religions celebrated his assassination. According to this verse in the Koran, Barak Obama, who is a self proclaimed Muslim, was right in the eyes of Allah to order the assassination; " Fight for the sake of Allah those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. Allah does not love the aggressors." Koran 2:190
When examining the Bible for the same "OK" for killing, you aren't likely to find God's stamp of approval for that world event. For an example, we can look at the mention of murder in The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:21; "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment."
When looking at this example, there is an obvious conflict. Millions of Christians around the world celebrated the assisination of Osama Bin Laden. Eriely enough, the only difference between the photos of Americans celebrating Bin Laden's death and the photos of Middle Eastern Countries celebrating the attacks of 9/11 were the buildings in the background and the missing burning American flags. The people were acting the same but yet both religious groups condemn the other for the same exact behavior.
The teaching of Osama Bin Laden's religion, the Muslim religion, teaches that it is OK to murder under certain circumstances. The Christian Religion that uses the Bible as it's holy book condemns murder in both the Old and New Testament for any reason. So why did so many Christians celebrate an act that is condemned by their own religion?
Separation of Church and State
As the years have went on and American views on religion have changed, there has been many legal attacks by individuals and groups that have challenged the Constitution's First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. This amendment simply reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Now we have prayer banned in public schools. Arguments over whether religious holiday decorations such as Christmas and Hanukkah in public government buildings is OK. Now people suing their local town governments to remove any and all religious symbols from anyplace that isn't privately owned under the guise of "Separation of Church and State."
What's next? Are they going to go after the religious symbols on the gravestones of our soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery? It's a national park after all. What's the difference between a Christian cross or a Jewish star on a gravestone and the ten commandments on the wall at City Hall? Both religious symbols. Both on government owned property.
They won't do it. Even though they are both religious symbols on public, government land, no one is willing to go down in history as the a-hole who disturbed thousands of soldiers graves at Arlington National Cemetery. So now we are looking at removing religious symbols from government owned property only when it doesn't make us look like a jerk in the process. It wouldn't be politically correct in today's society to do so.
Who decides when the two should be separated and where does the line need to be drawn?
The Atheist and Agnostic Individual Roles in Religion
If you are an atheist or agnostic, are you still a member of a religion?
The definition of atheist is: The doctrine or belief that there is no God.
So if you are an Atheist, you don't believe that there is a God. That's great and since we live in the United States, you are allowed to believe whatever you want. Problem is, the person who stands in line behind you at the grocery store is allowed to believe whatever they want too.
Prayer was taken out of public schools by a woman who was an atheist.
Agnostic is defined as a person who holds the existence of the ultimate cause, as God and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. In other words, a true Agnostic just isn't sure.
In today's world, it is becoming trendy to declare yourself as an Agnostic.
When examining religions to choose the one that you believe is best for you, leave no stone unturned. We are talking about our immortal souls here. What will happen to us when we die and cross over? Is there a heaven and hell? Are you willing to take that chance? Why IS it so hard to choose a religion these days? Is religion corrupt? Finally... what if I choose wrong? What happens to me then?
In my opinion, if you are searching for religion then the best way to search is with the heart. If you search with your brain you'll never come to any logical conclusion and find something wrong with each one. After all, religion is ran by mankind... and mankind is extremely flawed.