I was disturbed recently by the number of people who posted the depiction of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in cartoon from. The overwhelming comment was along the lines of “religion is the author of all hate and war and if only we could eradicate it, then the world would be a better, safer place to live in”. Is it really true? It sounds nice, but is it really true that without religion, there would be no war, no hate and we would live in some form of “utopian society?”. I want to think about this for just a couple of minutes… If all religions were eradicated, and If religion suddenly stopped in the world, do you truly believe that (for example)
- the drug cartels in South America would unilaterally stop murdering killing and selling misery?
- the sweat shops in the developing world would close their doors or suddenly start paying decent wages to their people?
- the bankers in our financial institutions would become altruistic and give generously out of their vast profits to improve the salaries of their employees?
- the vandal on the street corner would stop spraying graffiti on the bus stop?
- the thief who wants your car because it’s nicer than his will suddenly become satisfied with his lot and stop stealing?
- the paedophile will somehow get a change of heart and curb his urges?
- the wife/child/husband abuser will just stop?
- the man who cannot climb out of the bottom of a bottle or out of a syringe of heroin will just get up and live a free life?
- the hate North Korea (which is a religion-free regime by the way) has towards South Korea and the USA (in particular) will just stop?
I could go on – but you get the point. The point is that selfishness and hate and conflict are NOT the sole domain of religions. We live in the UK in a society that can stand with France and (rightly) be shocked and outraged at the horrific murders there recently, a society whose leaders will speak out for and stand up for the rights of a magazine to peddle hate and blasphemy and insult all in the name of satire and free speech, but a society which will marginalise and persecute (sorry – prosecute) Christians for speaking out publicly about their beliefs about homosexuality, or put pressure (both seen and unseen) on Christian faith schools if they do not “promote” British values of multiculturalism and “alternative lifestyles” or agree with the redefinition of marriage (amongst others). The truth is that war and hate are born not in religion, but in selfishness, in one person’s or one government’s belief that his/its world view and ideology is simply more “right” than another’s. No one is inherently more valuable or deserving than any one else, whether it be our way of governing society (we have a modern belief that democracy is inherently the best way to govern, and send troops to other countries to promote that), our sexual choices, our race, our gender, our faith (be that in Allah, God or even the faith that God simply doesn’t exist), or whatever other measure we put on it. This belief that “our way” is better is not rooted in “religion”, but is actually the condition of all people whether they are religious or not. Stop it with the “religion has caused all the wars in history” claptrap. That belief is simply not true, no matter how beautifully John Lennon sang it. The Bible is quite clear that all humanity stands before God equal. Even His “chosen people” were chosen to proclaim His love for the world. Romans 3:23 quite clearly staes that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. John 3:16 (the most translated bible verse) states clearly that God so loved the WORLD that he gave his son, and The Great Commission in all its forms leaves us in no doubt that there are none who should be excluded from the proclamation of the Gospel. The church is one of the most inclusive organisations on this planet! Don’t be deceived, some if the most vociferous advocates of freedom and inclusivity are the most intolerant when it comes to tolerating those who want to teach and live by traditional Christian values.