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"God's religion:" where it can be found
an essay donated by Tom Hart

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"Do not blame God for man's mistakes". These simple words add up to one of the most profound statements I've ever read. It was scrawled on a bathroom wall of the university I attended. For some reason this statement has stayed in the back my mind for many years. Gradually, over time, it has led me to ask questions and I have spent years attempting to find the answers. What ARE man's mistakes that we blame God for? You can decide for yourself and follow your own path to see what it means to you, but it has lead me to seek answers about my religious beliefs. I have come to the conclusion that organized religion may very well be the biggest mistake that God is being blamed for. I will present arguments in an attempt to show you why I feel this way.

God did not create even one of the many religions we have, men did. Each founder of a particular religion looked within themselves and saw God, and interpreted what they saw as a revelation of how to live and worship him. They were then able to convince others into believing that THEY alone had God's undivided attention and that everyone should believe as they do; BUT just because someone says, "God told me how to worship him", doesn't make it so. Each person who claims to have been given "the word" from God, interpreted their revelations according to their own subjective beliefs. For all we know each may have been given the exact same message, but interpreted it differently OR no message at all. Therefore, it doesn't make these so-called prophets right, or divinely inspired, it just makes them great salesmen. Each religion has had a great salesman.

God may be the biggest jokester of all time. He has allowed man to create a multitude of ways to worship him. He has allowed us to form and then change religions as we see fit, never interfering with what or how it is being taught. Most religions claim to be inspired by the same God. Many religions say, "my religion is the only TRUE religion" and the more fanatical religions say, "God will punish you if you don't believe in what I believe in". I do not see how anyone who knows there is a God could truly believe that he would damn the majority of the population of this world to purgatory automatically. Therefore, it is impossible for me to believe that there is only one true religion. If so, then most of us are going straight to Hell.

It is my opinion that Our God is tolerant of all religions. He doesn't care that humans have devised so many ways to worship him. He is tolerant of our foolishness and the disparate ways we've created to worship him. We are human after all and as most religions agree upon, flawed. What he does care about are those things that unite all religions. It is sad that we don't put more emphasis on these things and not the differences.

Most people desperately want to believe in something, even if that something is to believe in nothing. As a species we constantly try to find something, anything that will explain human existence, why we are here, and our place in it; but it must be tangible for us to accept it. We are social beings and must be able to see it, touch it, and be a part of it in order to believe in it. Organized religion fills that need. Just believing in, and talking to, God does not. It's lonely when it?s just you and God. He doesn't say a lot and requires you to do all the talking. He exists only as a metaphysical being. God requires absolute belief in him without ever giving you a chance to scientifically prove or disprove his existence. That's hard to sustain for any one person without the support and fellowship of others. Thus, we organize ourselves into groups of like-minded individuals, who have basically the same beliefs, and call it a religion.

The majority of people never actually chose their own religion. It was chosen for them by the simple act of being born. I have no doubt that:

bulletIf I was born in a Israel I would probably be Jewish, OR
bulletIf I was born in Utah I would probably be a Mormon, OR
bulletIf I was born in the Middle East I would probably be a Muslim.

For the majority of us, religion is not a choice, it is a birthright. I apologize to that small percentage of you who have actively chosen your religion because it fits your beliefs. You've obviously searched until you found a religion that, as closely as possible, fits your spiritual needs. That works for me too, but unfortunately, we are in the minority and as of this point in my life, I have not found that religion.

Please don't get the wrong idea. I respect all non-fanatical religions and those people who believe in them. I truly believe that all religions have something worthwhile to teach, but each of us ultimately decides what we will believe in and what we will not. It doesn't matter what religion you are a part of, I guarantee that there are certain tenets of your religion that you disagree with. That's because YOUR beliefs are subjective and are actually only between you and God, and no one else. The religion you are a part of simply fore fills MOST of your spiritual needs, but not all. It is just comforting being in an organized religion where we know that everyone who honestly adheres to most of our religion's beliefs will be blessed and allowed into heaven. In the end though, you will answer to God, not your religion, for your beliefs.

I have been to services in many places of worship. In each, I try to come away with the same thing: some new thought or idea that will help me understand God better and be a better person toward others. I understand that I do not have all the answers and never will, but I also understand that neither does anyone else. And while I may disagree with various religions on a number of points they adamantly believe in, they may have an answer to just one of the questions that I have been searching for, or either raise a question that I have never thought of . That makes every religion relevant. But regardless of what is said, it is ME who internalizes what is being taught during a sermon. I will subjectively believe what is taught and add that knowledge to MY belief system, use it to reinforce beliefs that I already have, or I will reject it. Even if you are a member of a particular religion, you do the same thing. All of us only accept those teachings that fit within our own personal belief system. We discard the rest. Therefore your religion is ultimately between you and God and concerns no one else. The answers I find are only relevant to me and help me along the path to a better understanding of God.

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To limit oneself to a set of answers that a single religion can offer is to limit the available answers. The answers to all our questions are out there. They will be found by fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. No one religion has all the answers and as long as we refuse to look for answers anywhere except in our own religion we will never find them.

I personally believe that religion has nothing to do with books, or prophets, or religious leaders, or houses of worship. Those were ALL created by men according to their own beliefs, not by God. We believe in these things because they ultimately match our own personal, subjective, beliefs. Each religion has followers because of each individuals ability to look within themselves and match their own beliefs against the religion they follow. Therefore, my beliefs are just between me and God. The religion I choose to follow is secondary. In the end, I will answer to him, not because of which church I went to, but because of the type of person I was during my life and how I treated others while I was here. It is what resides within me and makes me who I am that will determine whether God will look at me favorably or not. It is the search for answers to the moral questions I have, and how I use the answers that I add to MY belief system that is important. I refuse to limit myself to the answers that only one religion can supply. I am the owner of my own beliefs and God will be the judge of whether I am right or wrong, as he will with us all.

Organized religions do not unite us, they divide us. They segregate one group from another. You can argue the truthfulness of your religion all you want to, but you'll only alienate others who honestly believe in the truthfulness of theirs. Organized religions, regardless of their good intentions, have caused hate, mistrust and in extreme cases death and destruction. "Believe in what I believe in, because if you don't God will not love you and you will go straight to Hell". Think about it, God can not want that. That can not be God's plan for us to worship him. I can not believe that a loving God would not tell us which religion is the "true" religion, but then condemn us to eternal damnation if we guess wrong. No one religion or person has ever had an absolute control over right and wrong or absolute knowledge of the REAL truth.

In most Blogs and articles on religion, many people will argue religious points of view by quoting scripture from their own religion as absolute proof of a point, or will quote history as defined by their particular religious texts. These arguments are absolute truisms to those who believe in them, but are meaningless to those whose religion teaches a different, or even opposing, point of view. Teachings of any religion, that are specific to that religion, will never settle an issue or unite anyone. Therefore, the only test that can be applied to a religion to determine whether it is "the true religion" is whether its tenets resonate as the truth to everyone. It will be one that's inclusive to all.

The good news is that there is a religion that we are all already apart of. We just don't accept it and use it as a tool to unite us spiritually. It doesn?t have a name. It shouldn?t. To give it a name would just throw it into the pot with all the others. If it was ever formalized and put into that pot, I wouldn't join it. It is personal and concerns no one else but me and God. It is a religion of actions and not just words. It demands no place of worship, religious texts, or men who claim to know more about it than I do. It is within me. I know more about it than anyone else ever could. I alone am responsible for finding the answers to the questions I have about it. The answers I do find may be relevant to me, and no one else.

If we pray to God, we don?t pray for Baptist things, or Jewish things, or Muslin things, or Catholic things. We ALL pray to our God for the exact same things regardless of our organized religious differences. We pray for God to protect our families, our friends, our neighbors, our country, peace on earth, an end to the pain and suffering of others, for food to feed the starving, that God may grant us peace within ourselves, and to give us an understanding of exactly what kind of person he wants us to be. Among many others, these are the important things and the things we have in common that should unite us. These things can not be made into an organized religion but, none-the-less, unite us. It is OUR conversations with God that unite us ALL. Even though it is a personal conversation between each of us and God, it is the same conversation. We leave religion behind when we pray to God.

Each of us has within ourselves the ultimate religion, and it is the same. It should unite us, but doesn?t because we?d rather give it a name, write books about it, build places to go to worship it, and create deities of those men who say they know more about it than we do. How can anyone say that the very things that keep us apart will ever unite us. Organized religion does just that and always will. The goal of a true religion should be to work toward peace within ourselves and harmony with others. It should consist of the things that bind us all together, not tear us apart. Only when we recognize this, will there ever be a true religion.

It is my belief that there is only one God. He is called by many names and worshiped in many ways by different religions, BUT he will judge each of us using the exact same criteria that will not be based upon any particular religion's beliefs. It will be based upon our relationships with each other and the type of lives we lived. Until everyone recognizes that each of us contains the true religion within ourselves, because it unites us all as one with God, we will never have peace within ourselves or with each other. These are the things that God will ultimately judge us by. So worship God as your heart tells you to and search for the answers you need to satisfy the questions you have, but please "Do not blame God for man's mistakes".

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