To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, March 1, 2021

Observercast

Freedom To Believe

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BY SHARON MARTIN

It is not a character flaw to not be a Christian.

We find it hard to trust someone who doesn’t believe what we believe. This is what makes religion … and politics … such dangerous subjects.

If you’re a true believer, people who don’t buy into your belief system are suspect. But religions rise up in particular places, based on the experiences of the people. If you have never seen a volcano, no way can you understand a deity like Pele. Like the Fire Goddess, Jesus fulfills a need and calms our fears.

More than 30% of the world’s people call themselves Christians. More than two-thirds do not.

Before the age of mass communication and global travel, sharing information was a long, hard journey. There were pockets of people who would never get your message. And if they didn’t believe as you did … because the message had never reached them … what then? Were they doomed to hell by your God?

Religions are guidelines by which to live. If your guideline preaches hate, you’re either reading the rules wrong or you need a different religion. Religious beliefs that don’t make us better people have human problems.

We see it in groups like ISIS, for sure, but we also see it in Christians who banish nonbelievers, in marauding Buddhists, in Hindus fighting Muslims, in Puritans who hang women they call witches, in churches who believe people born gay deserve to die.

There are different routes to heaven, if heaven exists and whatever it’s called. There are enough resources for us all if we share. And there’s enough room for every belief that doesn’t cause harm to other humans.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to worship, or not, as we choose. Why, then, does anyone believe it is constitutional … or American … to discriminate against Muslims?

I am ashamed of what happened in our country this week. I’m ashamed that we haven’t welcomed more people fleeing the horrors of war.

I am proud of the people who stood up – civil servants, citizens, cab drivers, lawyers, everyone who acted, everyone who told the president that he was wrong.

Muslims are not bad people. Christians are not bad people. Neither are Jews, pagans, humanists, agnostics, Wiccans, or members of the 4,200 religions in the world. OK, some of them are bad, but it isn’t because of religion.

Slow down, Mr. President. Seek wise counsel. Make friends around the world so we can all work together to stop the few who would do us harm.

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer