What’s the worst thing to accuse someone of?
Think carefully. I’ll give you a hint. It starts with the letter ‘R.’
Is “racist” the most serious accusation you can throw at someone? What about “Republican?”
Keep thinking. It’s even worse. The worst thing a person can be encompasses all the evil of the entire human race, and sums it up all in one word.
If I were you, I wouldn’t want to be accused of being…
God, no, not that! I think some people would rather have dinner with a rapist than a religious person. And with Jeff Bethke’s video about hating religion making the rounds, I don’t think religious people are going to be winning any popularity contests any time soon.
Jesus Loved Everyone…Except Religious People
No one’s debating that Jesus was a pretty loving and accepting guy. He loved hookers, tax collectors, lepers, outcasts, betrayers, adulterers, and a slew of other ne’er-do-wells.
But no one ever says he loved religious people.
Jesus loved religious people? You mean the fanatics who are racists and homophobes, who work for the subjugation of women, and are anti-civil-rights? The people whose accomplishments can be summed up with “big buildings and war?” The narrow-minded fools who probably have brain defects? The people who represent everything wrong with the world? Hell no, Jesus doesn’t love them! They are guilty of a myriad of crimes against humanity.
Way to go, Mother Teresa, your religious dedication is responsible for the Holocaust.
See, religious people were the villains of the Bible, the Nazis or zombies of the New Testament. They are a nameless, faceless horde of all-purpose bad guys. No one wants to be accused of being religious.
The Worst Crime
But of all the perceived crimes of religious people, there is one that is the worst.
They are hypocrites.
Here’s how it works.
See, everyone knows that we all lie, cheat and steal. We all have skeletons in our closets. We all have secrets and shame.
But fear not! It’s okay if you are a liar and a cheat and you’re unfaithful to your spouse . . . as long as you don’t go to church and “pretend” that you don’t. That’s what drives everyone nuts. Everyone assumes that everyone in church is faking it. We’re all a bunch of hypocrites. We’re pretending to be better than everyone else. Do all the bad stuff you want to, but don’t go to church and pretend you’re better than us.
The Reality of Religion
Here’s the reality of religion:
First, everyone is faking it. Religious or not, we’re all pretending to be better than we are. All of you who think the people in church are hypocrites, you are just as bad. I don’t see you going around confessing to strangers on the street. You keep your secrets to yourself just like everyone else. It’s pretty preposterous to think that just because someone is in church, they must be a faking it. It’s like saying that all the people in the gym are only pretending to be healthier than me.
Second, if you think religion gets most of the credit for war, then you are a dolt. If religion is evil because it motivates war, then oil is evil too, along with just about every natural resource on the planet.
Third: everyone is religious. Even the people who pride themselves on being anti-religion. Our religion is in our routines and rituals. It’s how we connect with what is important to us, soothe ourselves, or try to find significance. The beefy guy who’s at the gym five nights a week is practicing his religion of self-improvement. The other guy who’s self-medicating by overeating is in his religious routine. The workaholic is worshiping, the super-coupon lady at the store is worshiping. We’re all religious. You just have a choice about how narcissistic your religion is going to be.
And last: Jesus loves you, not because, but even if you are religious.
So what do you think? We like to say that Christianity is a “relationship,” not a religion. But is that really right? Why do you think “religion” is such a poisoned word?