Instead of hating religion, try to fix it
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 16:11
A video went viral on Facebook last week posted by a man who explained why he loves Jesus but hates religion. I'm sure most of you know exactly what video I'm talking about, and if you do not it should not be hard to find.
The video brings up some valid points about the flaws with organized religion in the world.
However, the poster's main message seems to revolve around the notion that Jesus came into the world to abolish religion.
Of course, I think it is great that this man wants to express his concern with the practices of many people in organized religion.
It's bold. People reposted. His message spread.
But I do not think people thought much before they reposted the video. I think there are great things that come from religion.
Let's look at a few critiques and then see how religion can do good, and then look at possible ways to reform.
First, the man seems to limit his definition of religion to be Christianity, and I support my friends who claim other faiths. I guess this video wasn't for them. No matter, I will continue.
Even without quoting biblical passages, one can see that Jesus formed a small church that followed him around everywhere. I am sure that almost everyone has heard about the disciples. They formed a community of people who shared similar (however, not identical) beliefs about a higher being. To me, this seems like the formation of a religion.
Many people believe that religion is a socially constructed institution, formed by people with similar beliefs, who want to establish a community together.
With an ideal mindset, these people may want to work together to influence the world in positive ways.
The man who posted the video does not think that religious institutions are influencing the world in positive ways. Sure, this gives reason to "hate" religion, or in his case mainstream Christianity I assume.
However, I do not think this gives grounds to want to abolish religion as a whole. Religious institutions provide aid after natural disasters, provide places for group therapy sessions like Alcoholics Anonymous, and give individuals a place to make friends and discuss their faith in a safe environment (well, most of the time).
I also think that the video's creator fails to realize that if everyone professed to his beliefs and began to "follow Christ," then we would see a "new" religion form, at least in the eyes of anthropologists. Of course, I don't know what these new Christ followers would call themselves, seeing as the Christians have already monopolized that niche for almost 2000 years now.
Maybe a better way to approach the situation would be to post a video about how Jesus may not approve of the way the Christian church is being used today to promote hatred and inequality. Maybe he should remind us Christians that we should be feeding the poor, providing shelter, healing the spiritually broken. Maybe we should be using our skills and resources in a different way.
But abolishing religion? I think Martin Luther had the same ideas before he began the Protestant Reformation, and look where we are now.
Michael is a sophomore majoring in communications studies and religious studies.