No to religion, yes to faith

Frank Raj – Founding Editor And Publisher, The International Indian

To give all religions due respect, but give none the power to control our connection with God, nor allow any middleman to restrict our freedom to articulate personal faith that is divinely ordained with a free will to choose, change or contemplate. Unless we do not renounce our greed we cannot protect truth.

Untruth inhibits self development and physical, mental and spiritual growth.Therefore we should all adhere by truth. — 1/ 4 Yajurveda

Let there be no attempt to force in religion. Truth stands out clear from error. Whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold, (one) that never breaks. — Quran 2: 256

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. — John 8:32

The title I’ve chosen for this column is clear enough but may be some explanation is in order. After a longish stint on planet earth I’ve seen enough to figure religion is more about control, less about personal faith and freedom. Personal faith is a choice to believe or not to believe. Control is not a choice. Once you sign up to whatever religion you choose to inherit, or decide to follow, the controls kick in. There are do’s and don’ts that most people don’t dare dispute in their lifetime.

I broke away from what I clearly observe now is “religionism,” a form of widespread religious slavery, evident as affected or pretended religious zeal in people inclined to obey specified forms of ritual piety.

Without exception it infects all who blindly follow the dictates of institutionalized belief systems.

violence unlike the meekness and humility one generally finds in authentic faith.

I think the Creator intended freedom for us from the very beginning. Adam and Eve exercised their free will when they opted for the forbidden fruit. I’ve chosen to explore the multi-faceted garden of creation with faith and freedom. Being a religious slave is boring, direct personal faith in God is a journey of discovery.

If Truth is the objective, all roads can lead to the Maker of heaven and earth. I have noticed he honours the authentic quest of people of all persuasions, raining his grace on them all.

I was in Kenya on safari with a bunch of journalists on the foothills of snow capped Mt Kenya. Riding on horseback in the bush we trotted through wild buffalo, elephant and leopard country and enjoyed our campfire dinner under the watchful eyes of an armed guard. Experiencing new things, the trip tinged with danger from wild beasts and spending extended time as a group, people began to trust each other and inevitably the conversation turned to faith and the spiritual aspects of life.

Usually what sets the ball rolling is the human tendency to search for answers or to sometimes flaunt spiritual knowledge. Some folks try to impose their views on everyone else; some believe faith is a private affair despite the shame and public horror of unending religious conflict that needs more not less dialogue.

Others emphasize their religiosity through their habits, looks or attire, their learning or some other form of religious one-upmanship. This usually does not have the intended effect of persuading others to their point of view. If we claim to have genuine faith I believe we should unassumingly share how it works for us, if it really does and be willing to examine other inputs.

Conflict is inevitable in discussions where spiritual issues are discussed and that’s okay if people are sincere.

In the interests of full disclosure, everyone should make their positions known in group interactions, and manage conversation in a way that respect and warmth remains and everyone gets a fair hearing.

There are no winners in spiritual arguments but positive or negative impressions can be made.

Our names can indicate our spiritual affiliation and I like to make known my refusal to defend Christianity in my writing.

Occasionally, well meaning folks probe to see if I’m open for conversion to their side, but I have no doubts about the Redeemer who set me free. I’m just certain Christ did not establish the religion that cleverly uses his name so I have no interest in defending a historically indefensible man-made institution.

The simple fact is Christ and Christianity are poles apart but most folks don’t give that much thought.

Our safari group’s religious diversity led to lively, though sometimes heated dialogue and we often had to agree to disagree to end our discussions amicably. But as we gradually accepted each other and bonded, it became a remarkable open forum for sharing our views on faith and other issues, as I hope this one will be.


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