There would have been few people who were not deeply shocked by the revelations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Now we have similar concerns revealed about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I spent a considerable part of my school years studying the Bible, followed by examination of Comparative Religion, at a C of E secondary school in the UK.
The picture that this presented to me was that the Jews, followed later by the Muslims, and unlike the Greeks and Romans, chose to believe that there was one god, and that he effectively existed for the Jewish people.
Muhammad, of course, did not acknowledge that Jesus was, as claimed, the son of god – he saw him as another prophet, and, originally, maintained a more favourable view of the Jews than might be the case for modern Muslims.
Jesus’ message, that the god of the Jews loved everyone, was not accepted by the Jews, who did not oppose his crucifixion by the Romans.
The process followed by his disciples has resulted, over the centuries, in increasing numbers of groups developing what have, in many cases, become cults, which have enabled mainly men to exert a level of unholy power over their flocks!
The essential message, that Christ wants you to love your fellow beings, has been warped and distorted by many of those cults, and the longest enduring of them, the Roman Catholic Church, has concentrated on developing a level of power which has proved highly destructive.
Pope Francis would, it seems, if left to his own devices, try to bring the church into the 21st century, but, even for former Catholics, the attitudes of the church seem to implant guilt rather than love.
The conflict between much of Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament, and the practices of most of the so-called Christian sects, leave me totally puzzled that anyone could genuinely believe that could say they were spreading his words.
And all of that assumes that a god actually exists.
I became an agnostic decades ago!
The recent examination of the Jehovah’s Witnesses throws grave doubts on the extent to which its existence is actually desirable.
The Pentecostal branches, like that to which our Prime Minister adheres, seem to love money more than the people outside their organisation, and my personal feeling is that religion should be a private matter and receive no support from governments.
For many that might seem too radical, if not actually blasphemous, but, given the appalling behaviour which has been revealed in so many of these sects – including just a few like the Catholic Church, The Plymouth Brethren, Scientology and the Pentacostalists – I seriously think we have to ask whether they deserve the favours they are granted.
Same sex marriage has been a major bone of contention for many of the ‘religious’, who cling on to ancient biblical messages, ignoring modern science.
And recent events in Afghanistan have highlighted the fact that many religions refuse to recognise that the knowledge of the founders of the religions were ignorant of much that has since been revealed by scientific research.
We have to stop living in the past, teach science properly in all schools, let people follow any beliefs they choose – as long as they do not harm others in so doing – and teach ethics in all schools, while the money saved from ceasing to give tax benefits to existing bodies – except for genuinely philanthropic activities – should be used to help all the people who are currently struggling to survive.
Far more important than religion, is ensuring that all can survive, and that demands attention to climate change!
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