Many conversations concerning the topic of religion get quite personal, emotional and out of hand fairly fast. This is the case so often that common etiquette generally recommends that one avoids the subject all together (especially at the dinner table).
It is interesting to note that a subject that is supposed to be about God is so dis-unifying. God as a concept is usually thought to be universal, and is said to be the source from which we all come from; that one link that ties us all together. Despite this fact, most individuals regard religion along with politics as two topics that should be all-out avoided. If God is what ties us all together, why is the subject of religion so controversial?
It is good to recognize the point that God and religion, in the American context, are often looked at as one in the same. However, God and religion are not the same. Yes it is true that people associate one with the other, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be that way for everyone. What would happen if we didn’t associate religion with God?
What if we looked at the concept of God and the concept of religion as two separate entities? There are so many different religions with so many different belief systems, and perhaps this is where all of the confusion comes from. Thus how can a group of individuals perceive the concept of God through the scope as religion?
Today we live in a world where people are becoming less concerned about religious doctrines. Yes, there are plenty of institutions, both religious and non-religious that are thriving and still finding success. So isn’t it safe to assume that this is because more and more people are looking to escape the religious paradigm?
In terms of relevance, it means that people are looking for a new way to experience God apart from religion. People are tired of the doctrines, the rituals, the traditions, etc. This is a world that is growing more technologically advanced and a lot of ancient spiritual knowledge is starting to resurface. People are starting to relearn the Laws of the Universe. In a world where practical information is needed, and where spirituality is becoming more practical, biblical folklores have become far less attractive. That’s not to say that everything in the bible is a myth, but preachers are often spoon feeding sermons to people and withholding the true biblical knowledge which most preachers pick up in seminary school.
People are using spiritual practices to help them live a better life. However, in most cases religions only address conduct. Yes better behaviors can help one live a better life but there are other problems with religions. For instance, most religions see themselves as the only way. They exclude, any other form of thought and trap all of its followers inside of a thought box that they are not allowed to think out of. If there is something practical and useful outside of the thought box, then religious parishioners are not allowed to think it or use it, instead they most rely on faith and folklore; ignoring practical wisdom and common sense. If common sense itself is on the outside of a religious thought box, then one must avoid using his common sense and rely on religious folklore.
This new school attitude of spirituality and God apart from religion could be a big step for humanity.
Most spiritual centers generally do not forbid the practice or the study of other spiritual/religious teachings or concepts. Usually everyone is invited to participate regardless of religious beliefs or status . Please mind the fact this is a broad brush. There are many spiritual centers and religious institutions that may or may not fit into this paradigm.
It is also important to say that this doesn’t mean that everything about religion is bad. Often times, families with a strong religious foundation produce good world citizens. They are probably not the most free thinking people, and they may look at people of other religious beliefs or non-religious beliefs with the “side-eye” but deep down inside they are good people. They don’t kill or steal, they follow all laws, they keep their religious and family traditions, and try to maintain good behavior. These are all the things people would want from children. That doesn’t make them bad people in fact religion is acting as a necessary evil to help these people behave because imagine what many of these people would be like without religion. They need something to tell them that stealing is wrong, or that one should not cheat his brother, etc.
Now while religious people are generally not the most religious in thought at least their behavior (at least socially) maintains a peaceful environment so that spiritual people and free thinkers can grow. As previously mentioned, this good behavior of religious people is in a social context, in the context of war, politics, etc religious people can be indoctrinated to do just about anything. This religious indoctrination generally creates very “complex” justifications for wars, social injustice, political injustice, etc but this is a completely different subject.
For some people religion may be a necessary evil until they can evolve to a place to behave on their own. They rely on religion to keep order. Maybe one day humans can evolve to a place where we could have order without religious doctrines or restrictions.