Religion can complicate God with its laws, creeds, rules, etc. All that one really needs to do is love.
I was asked recently, "What do you really think about religion?" Three people said some things that help to sum up my feelings on the topic:
Mark Twain said:
Man is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his religion isnít straight.
Blaise Pascal said:
Men never do evil so completely and so cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Susan B. Anthony said:
I always distrust people who know so much about what God wants them to do to their followers.
These three fairly famous and admired people obviously werenít big supporters of religion. But their statements donít really tell you what I think of religion. They only give you a glimpse. What do I think about religion? Well, Iím of a like mind as these three in that Iím not a real big fan of religion.
Iím not a real big fan because religion has made the whole concept of God, the whole philosophy of God way too complicated. Whether it is Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or nearly any other religion, itís just too complicated. There are all kinds of creeds and canons that define what a Christian must do and recite and believe about God. The Torah has more than 600 commandments that are too be followed or risk angering God. And there are literally more than a thousand Islamic laws or rules to follow to be a considered good Muslim. There are Islamic rules for what to do when touching a dead body! But for me, itís really pretty simple. We donít need all these laws or creeds or canons or rules to tell us what to do or what to believe. For me, my religion is summed up in three words. God is love.
When we love, we touch God. So anything that is not love diminishes God. Jealousy diminishes God. Envy diminishes God. Being judgmental diminishes God. Hate diminishes God. When we love, we touch God. This is my religion.
In my youth, when I became suspicious of my girlfriend and thought she was cheating on me and I ended up following her to find out if she was actually seeing someone else, I was diminishing God. When I look down the street and see my neighbor with a nice new shiny Cadillac CTS in the driveway and a new boat in the back yard and wish I could have those things, I diminish God. And when I donít give a dollar to a homeless person on a street corner because Iím sure they will use it to buy liquor, I have judged them and hence, have diminished God.
But when I stop and do give a homeless person on the corner a dollar regardless of what they do with it, I am committing a loving act, and therefore touching God. And when I donít judge a woman for having an abortion because it is between her and God and not her and I, I am committing a loving act and touching God. And when I reach out to my homosexual friends and relatives and accept them for who they are, I am committing a loving act and touching God.
But I am not going to try and persuade you that my point of view is right. If I am right, that means that you who donít believe the same as I are wrong. And my deeming you wrong is judging you. And judging someone is not a loving act.
So I think you now have an idea of what I think about religion. But I will let three other well-known (for the most part well-known) and admired people sum it up for me:
Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.
The Dali Lama said:
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
And Reverend Howard Hahn, the man who presided over my confirmation and who was the first to try and get me into seminary said, when I told him I wasnít sure that I believed everything in bible:
"Just love and be kind Scott. Everything else will fall into place."