St Mary's Uttoxeter

What is the point of religion?

22 Dec 2018 • Articles

I went to a seminar at Lichfield Cathedral recently, the theme of which was Christian-Muslim relations.

One of the Imams speaking said that religions try to teach us two things:firstly, how to behave towards God, and, secondly, how to behave towards each other. He’s probably right. Jesus (Matthew 22:35-40) said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbour. He was simply reinforcing the same message from the Hebrew Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:17-18). Humanists do the same: how they behave to God is to ignore him, as he does not exist in their religion; how people should behave towards each other under humanism, however, is very …… humane.  

I am reading a book at the moment called ‘Mister God, this is Anna’, which is the true story of the short life of a 5 year old girl. For her, “the message of the Bible was simple and any half-wit could grasp it in thirty minutes flat. Religion was for doing things, not for reading about doing things”. For 5 year old Anna, faith in God was a given, so, “Keeping on going to church” [the temple, the mosque, the library, the stone circle] “was because you hadn’t got the message, or didn’t understand it, or it was ‘just for swank’”.

Every religion has its fanatics, aggressors and those who mis-use it. At the moment the focus is on Muslims for various attacks across the world in the name of Allah, although we have seen Buddhists in Myanmar abusing Rohingya Muslims and Christians in the USA and Africa doing the same. However, the Imam said that most religions try to teach peace, and I think he was right in that as well. We need to make sure we get out and do that.

Happy Christmas, Rev. Joe Cant