Sunday, March 20, 2016

Jesus as my Personal Lord and Savior:

My friend sent me picture of an Australian church with amazing brickwork.  I noticed a little white sign near the side door:

Persons on this property for other than recognized church activities are trespassers.  This area is under constant electronic surveillance 

Already irritable from watching CNN, I immediately imagined what "recognized church activities" might be. Collusion with oppressive governments in slavery and genocide?   Support of US candidates for president who want to ban all Muslims and most Mexicans and who think climate change is a hoax?  How about Catholics consigning the poorest in Africa to hell for considering the use of birth control, even to prevent transmission of AIDS?  (Pope Francis apparently got rid of that one a couple of months ago).  How about covering up and indirectly promoting child sexual abuse by clergy, worldwide? These are some widely known church activities.

I'm pretty sure a if a band of Christian conservationists walked around the church softly singing hymns and carrying banners about protecting the planet or something. . . .that would definitely NOT be recognized as a church activity, and police would be summoned. 

Of course churches produce saints. While most Catholics and Lutherans looked the other way, a few brave Germans sheltered Jews at great personal risk. In the USA, heroes helped runaway slaves. Some were movtivated and supported by churches, though most religious groups preached the rightgeousness of slavery.    

In the First World, churches exist mostly to reassure members and add importance to life transitions.  "Church activities" include inspirational weekly sessions with comforting ritual, often in expensive buildings on tax-free grounds. There may be token trips to soup kitchens and the occasional food bank drive.  To date, however, there is no scientific evidence that church membership renders people more ethical, more commited to peace and justice, or superior on any variable typically associated with "goodness."

The political climate in the US requires that candidates be religious. The second most popular Republican concludes hateful tirades with a forced grin and a "God Bless."  The sole candidate who has worked for justice on the streets a socialist secular Jew. 

Millions of Americans claim to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior, but too many persecute minorities, exclude refugees, build walls and vote for hateful demagogues. Preferring isolation and relishing military aggression, they provide no evidence that they have heard or heeded the Gospel of  justice for the poor, simplicity of life, and least of all the requirement that above all they love one another.  

Richard Rohr is a Catholic priest who challenges us about creating a religion to serve outselves rather than adopting a lifestyle to serve others.

Christianity is a lifestyle - a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared, and loving. However, we made it into an established "religion" (and all that goes with that) and avoided the lifestyle change itself. One could be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain in most of Christian history, and still believe that Jesus is one's "personal Lord and Savior" . . . The world has no time for such silliness anymore. The suffering on Earth is too great.   Richard Rohr   

click here for  more Richard Rohr quotes