Some of the greatest blood baths of mankind have been committed in the furtherance of religious faith. Though most of the declared sacred writings are opposed in their moral codes to the taking of life and advocate the brotherhood of man, hatred and intolerance yet prevail in the name of religion. Devout faith is often blind and even wilfully closes the mind to historical fact.
Sacred books have been numerous through the ages; some preceded the Bible by centuries, and many still exist today. Yet some of the most renowned sacred personages never left any writings, as, for example, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed. There were no personally written accounts of their revelations or preachments. Some of their revelations were recorded centuries later by scribes who reduced the verbal accounts that had descended to writing.
The original revelations of such prophets were deemed sacred. Each prophet was considered to be a personal conveyor of a revelatory message that was proclaimed to be inspired by the transcendent, Supreme, Divine Being. However, the eventual written form of these messages, as history relates, suffered from the human interpretations of the original verbal accounts.
Many theological controversies arose as to what sections of these works would be accepted in conforming to the rituals and doctrines that the priests and theologians wished to promulgate. This confusion resulted in the schisms now existing in some of the sects today. Many followers of a faith will nevertheless accept the often-altered accounts of these sacred works as being the revealed word of God. They overlook the fact that, historically, various deletions have been made and that new constructions of meaning were inserted by quite human religionist councils of the past.
It is difficult to reconcile the divine transcendency and compassion of a God with the human attributes that members of religious sects have ascribed to Him. Man has often characterized his God, in various faiths, as jealous, as advocating retribution and even the destruction of the life of disbelievers. Even the human taint of envy and hate has found its way into these sacred tomes.
The religionist may accept the monotheistic concept of a sole God, yet he too often cloaks this same God in a raiment of those limiting definitions established by the theology of his faith. This, however, results in a dichotomy with both commendable and detrimental aspects. It is commendable in that each man may create his God, not in essence but in the image he conceives or which he wants to believe. There cannot, of course, be a universally accepted concept of God, for the mental construct varies with the depth of understanding of the individual. However, the concept is detrimental when man’s individual image of God engenders intolerance; simply, the belief, held in all sincerity, that “the God I envision is the right one; all who think and believe differently are heretical and an affront to my God.”
This attitude of zeal for a religious concept which is believed to be the only true one results in adverse emotional and psychological reactions toward all others who do not subscribed to it. It inculcates a spirit of defiance against all the different promulgated religions. Such other adherents are condemned as ‘non-believers,’ that is, they lack the spirituality that can only be had by the followers of a certain particular faith.
At this point, bigotry and intolerance enter. These bigots expound that their moral precepts and particularly their interpretation of sacred writings should become the social standard of morality. They openly affirm that they are the “moral; majority,” which can be construed as meaning that those who do not think in conformity with their ideas are immoral!
Now, no one religion should have conferred upon it the right of purging moral decay according to its precepts and interpretation. The fact is that some of these fundamentalist sects, of which the “moral majority” is mostly composed, become so constrained in their thinking as to want to prohibit acts which are basically humanitarian.
Each human must find his own spiritual enlightenment. It must be intimate to him. It must represent the sublimity of his moral motivation and understanding. If one’s religious and spiritual beliefs do not obstruct the faith of others or are not detrimental to the welfare of society, and are tolerant of the worthy qualities in others, then no religion can advocate more beneficence for its followers than that. Certainly, such moral idealism and behaviour is worthy of any divine beneficence that may be bestowed upon man.
- Author Unknown