We are having a discussion (that I'd love for you all to chime in on) at the Witch Mom Forums on religion and spirituality and which people identify with and why.
I find that many people are uncomfortable with the word "religion" because some religion or other at one time in their lives preached harmful or hateful things. I know so many ex Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelical Christians it isn't even noteworthy anymore when someone "comes out" as a former (insert religion-preaching-hate here). The concept religion is so closely tied with what people (however misguided) do in its name that sometimes people reject anything resembling the term altogether.
Simply put, a theology that preaches disconnection from others, regardless of the reason, is not a real religion- it is simply hate speech wrapped up in a corrupt theology. You heard me. Yes, I said that. I am calling recent statements by the pope and Mormon deacons unreligious.
Religion, at its core, is an idea of wholeness- from creation to destruction and everything in between. It encompasses all of humanity and indeed all of creation. A church that does not embrace all living things as equals, one that sees some people as more inherently virtuous than others is not a religious institution. When done properly, religion cannot be used as an instrument of hate. When it is, calling it religion is a misnomer.
That is why I have no issue with revoking the non-profit status of any church that opposed and got involved in the fight for gay marriage, for example. They are not a religious institution, obviously- so why get the tax benefits of one?
But one of the things that I see happening here is that because there is not structure (and all living things need structure- just ask a biologist!), there are plenty of gurus and merchants stepping in to fill that void. Spirituality cannot be bought or sold, regardless of what a workshop facilitator, new age crystal peddler, or a self-help/spiritual author tells you (as they urge you to buy their book).
Here is a proper use of religion:
and also this:
Please join us on the Witch Mom Forums for this and many other fascinating discussions!