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The Importance Of Faith?

I’ve been accused of not having faith a number of times in recent history because I don’t attend church services. Its usually said with a bit of derision, or pity it seems. It’s true I don’t attend anymore, this is because I found way too much hypocrisy and self righteous judgment going on in the church for my taste.

Faith isn’t about perfect attendance to services or how much money you put on a little plate, or meditating each day on the divine. Its about what you believe in. And now that I'm on the topic of faith...

In my life I’ve come across way too many self proclaimed “faithful” that are out and out jackasses, or incredibly unethical, or bigots, or even criminals. These same people seem to be the quickest to accuse me of not having faith, in what appears to be an attempt to show me what a better person they are than I. I have to ask what value is your faith if you live your life this way? Having faith obviously (to me) is not what makes us a good person as some would have us believe. Conversely, lack of faith by whatever definition you choose for it doesn’t make you a bad person either.

More important than faith is a inner desire to be better, and nobler and kinder than you are. It’s about making sacrifices for others, its about being selfless and doing what is right, even when there’s not going be anyone telling you what a hero you are. It’s about having ethics and morals and integrity, even when it means taking the hard road.

This is what I teach my children. I encourage them to attend church services (of all denominations) and find myself in discussions of religion and faith with them from time to time. I also encourage them to think for themselves, to be responsible for their actions, and to carry on through life in a way they will be proud of.

Far too many people seem to think that having faith and attending services justifies their living their life selfishly, or worse. If you want to fault me for not going to Sunday services you have every right do so, but no freaking way can you tell me that you are a better person than me because you do!

Church is a positive thing for many many people. I recognize this, and agree with it, but to say someone’s lack of religion (or, heaven forbid following the “wrong” religion) is overstepping the bounds.

I know who I am. I am mostly happy with who I am. I sleep very well at night with this knowledge. That’s what really matters.

I've no doubt many will think this means I've lost my way. I know better.
daltxn daltxn 46-50, M 2 Responses Sep 20, 2012

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Very interesting post. I think it is really important to distinguish between religion and faith. I'm coming to this from a Christian context so ill frame my thinking in that way. Faith in this context is a belief in God and in his Son Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose form the dead. Religion is the organisation structures, regulations and parameters men have put around faith. It does need organising and teaching based on the scriptures. However, it seems that the hardest commandment to keep is the "judge not" . I think it's a human thing - when any human organisation is formed, the first activity is to define the joining criteria, or put another way, the criteria by which others are excluded. Christianity is the opposite - all are welcome. It's somewhat interesting that Jesus called poor, uneducated or marginal people as his disciples (fishermen, tax collectors, ladies of questionable virtue) but the church, that gathering of the people, frequently excludes the poor, marginalized, outsiders. The gospels on their own are challenging - I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was in prison and you visited me, I was naked and you clothed me - so long as you did it to the least you did it to me - and they make us quite uncomfortable. I have a friend who goes into a prison every Sunday and plays soccer with the inmates. Five aside on a concrete pitch and he brings a bunch of friends. This is a prison with mostly long term sex crime or multiple murderers ( it's in Ireland) and they do this every Sunday. I've been in there and it's no holiday camp. He says 'we are not here to judge - they have been judged and are being punished. We are bringing some humanity from outside, some Christianity'. He goes to church just twice a year but to me, he is living the challenge of Christianity. It's easy to show love to our friends, or to the guy in my social class or group. But to the homeless man covered in sores or the prisoner or the drug addict, now that is not so easy. I'll leave your with St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians "And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love"

Hi. You wrote in part that real religion is "about making sacrifices for others, its about being selfless and doing what is right, even when there’s not going be anyone telling you what a hero you are. It’s about having ethics and morals and integrity, even when it means taking the hard road." I totally agree. I've also had a hard time with hypocritical and judgmental Christianity. It hasn't been fun. Some people leave churches while others stay and have to conform to a hypocritical religion. It'll change someday; the wait is the hard part.

Well spoken, unfortunately I don't think the changes will happen in my lifetime. I've spent time recently in small town Texas. If anything the hypocrisy and bigotry I see there is as bad as ever. Baffles my mind.