Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

4/26/09

Hypocrisy and Religion

I have often encountered observant people who easily, and accurately, note the lives of Christians living inconsistently with what they believe. They, the people I encounter, usually are referring to some scandal that hit the news, or some errant pastor or priest they knew growing up.

They could be referring to me if they knew me well enough, but, thanks to the good effort on my part in keeping up appearances, my failures are less known than Jim Bakker (he placed money and sex higher than God) or Father Phleger (he places politics higher than God), or any great number of Christian leaders.

I couldn't agree more with the cynicism this encourages. There's one response to this, naturally. If hypocrisy was localized to only those who claim to know God, or the churches they inhabit, I would find religion intolerable.

Religion isn't all bad. Billions of dollars are given to help the poor, the hurting and the needy. Languages have been saved by linguists recording previously unwritten languages. Volunteers have gone into crisis areas, tutored, become doctors in impoverished areas, fed/housed/hired the homeless, donated massive resources to pay for AIDS research, bought slaves and freed them, counseled the raped and abused. All because of their faith and some kind of organized leadership, often directly through a denomination. (aka 'religion').

People do things for all kinds of reasons - including secular, humanist and atheistic motivations, but all of the above often happens because of religion. This isn't highlighting my religion or anyone's in particular. Even if we disagree on a hundred things, all of the above are pretty good things we hopefully agree on.

Given that religion, a misleading term for those with faith-in-action, is about getting off the bench and living out someone's stated faith, I think anything else is, by default, a waste of time.

Not all religions are equal. There would be no point in claiming to be a member or believer in one if this was true. No, each believes something different. Theology is not unimportant, and some of the distinctions are unable to be overlooked. Christianity, for one, is completely incompatible with the tenets of Islam. Islam rejects Christ's resurrection, which Christianity is, in part, built upon.

A recent example of this is the students at Wheaton Academy who have not only gotten off the bench, but they have grabbed the ball and run with it.

As part of a larger segment about World Bicycle Relief, WGN TV's Ana Belaval visited Wheaton Academy, and interviewed Jennifer Lee and Ryan Seager, as well as shooting video of the campus. The piece also includes a walk students did to understand the necessity of bicycles in Zambia. Wheaton Academy's part comes in at around 2:45.

WGN could have spoken to any of many students. All have been amazingly intentional in living out what they believe. Hypocrisy? Not as I see it.

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