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Religion and Morality - Does Religion Define Your Moral Center

Updated on June 12, 2012

I’ve been wanting to write this for some time now, but let me start out by saying that I in no way wish to belittle anyone’s religious beliefs.

Over the years I have had my ins and outs with religion most of which have been due to the immoral nature of those involved. I was raised a Christian, taught to be Christ like and to have good morals. That said, religion had very little to with the development my morality. Truth be known my aversion to religion has helped to develop my moral center. Sounds backwards doesn’t it….let me explain.

As a youngster I lived in a broken home, no my parents weren’t divorced. My father was an alcoholic and my mother was a Christian. My father drank and my mother preached to him day and night about his drinking. This in turn encouraged my father to drink more and subsequently my mother would preach more. It was a vicious cycle. One which ended with my parents hating each other over a difference in beliefs. To this day I have never tasted a drop of alcohol. I saw what it did to my father and vowed never to let it control me. I also learned not to treat others with malice as my mother did. In her religion alcohol was Satan’s fire and drinking was of the devil. She had substituted her hatred of the act of drinking with the man who was drinking. She forgot to love the person.

Through high school I was taught that other religions were wrong and that we should have nothing to do with those that “don’t believe as we do”. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. How many wars have been fought and continue to be fought in the name of religion. Is this moral. I don’t believe so. “My religion says that your religion is wrong so I must hate you.” I fail to see the morality in hatred. My daughter had an experience that made this abundantly clear. She came home from a church function one evening and informed me that one of the girls had told her that she wanted nothing to do with people who didn’t attend her church. My daughter quickly realized that she didn’t attend “her church” and yet she was being blessed with this girls presence. The church as a whole was xenophobic isolating themselves from those that didn’t believe as they did. My daughter quickly determined that indifference and hatred were not virtues and that acceptance and understanding are virtues worth holding on to. She learned this as the result of her religious experience and in spite of what she was being taught. Needless to say she didn’t attend any more youth functions, but that was her decision.

When I went to college at a “secular” school I was told by members of my church that I would fall to temptation. I had a hard time swallowing that pill. Why would I fall to temptation if I changed locations. I was the same person why would I change my morals to fit my surroundings. I always figured that if you do right all the time, you don’t have to worry about the consequences. Now I realize that none of us are perfect including myself, but this just made sense to me. If you know you can kill someone if you drive drunk, you shouldn’t drive drunk. Makes sense doesn’t it? My pastor informed me that the mere thought of attending a “heathen college” was immoral. I didn’t see the logic in this location dictates morality scenario. Low and behold I went to college for four years and never drank, did drugs, or got a girl pregnant. It wasn’t until I spent a year at bible college that I witnessed rampant immorality, but that’s a tale for another day.

Religion over the centuries has dictated that morality is subject to those in religious authority. Religion as an authority defines how we should conduct ourselves yet does not hold itself to the same standard. Religion doesn’t have to. After all religion is a mythical beast. When I contemplate religion I envision the Wizard of Oz with all of his smoke and mirrors. He was a man of mythical proportions to those who followed him. Yet in reality he was a fearful old man trying to maintain control of those who worshiped him through fear and intimidation. Religion is much the same. It only maintains the power we give it. You don’t need religion to provide you with a moral compass. Quite the opposite, you should hold religion accountable for its wavering morality. Stamp your foot like Dorothy did and demand that religion straighten up its act.

Ok I’ll get off my soap box. Again I don’t mean to offend anyone. I just want to share my thoughts.

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