Considering Organized Religion Part I

English: Religious symbols from the top nine o...

English: Religious symbols from the top nine organised faiths of the world according to Major world religions From left to right: 1st Row: Christian Cross, Jewish Star of David, Hindu Aumkar 2nd Row: Islamic Star and crescent, Buddhist Wheel of Dharma, Shinto Torii 3rd Row: Sikh Khanda, Bahá’í star, Jain Ahimsa Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The so-called “organized religions” of the world sometimes get casually dismissed. For the purpose of this article (includes three separate posts), organized religion means a group of people voluntarily associating as a congregation with a common belief structure adhered to and common tenets of faith practiced, organized by one name with a central leader. This could be at the global level with Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, for example, or local by denomination – such as Baptist or Catholic – temple, or mosque. There are many reasons not to align with a church, just like in the minds of others there are many reasons to do so. It is simply an individual decision to make whether you will or won’t affiliate with a specific denomination or faith.

In this post I will present an argument against organized religion. The second part to this theme will present an argument for organized religion, and finally I will share my personal feelings on the subject in the third post.

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5 Arguments Against Organized Religion

  1. I can worship God anywhere, I don’t need to be in a specific building
  2. The people in churches are hypocrites, preaching one thing but never living what they preach
  3. Churches are run by corrupt people seeking power, money, and who knows what else
  4. Religion has existed for so long, if there was one true one, people would have figured it out by now
  5. Religion enslaves with its many rules and introduces group-think, eliminating the individual mind

My Hypothetical Argument Against Organized Religion

It isn’t difficult to understand where these arguments come from. A Google search for news items and churches over the last few years will probably supply plenty of examples of bad things that happen in the name of God or by organized churches. If God is all powerful and omnipresent, then why does he let people do such awful things in his name? How can faith leaders stand up in front of a congregation on Sunday morning and preach purity when their hearts are full of deception and injury to other people? Why would anyone want to associate with such a person and be counted as part of that shepherd’s flock? If prayer is direct communication with God, then why not stay home where there aren’t so many sinners and commune personally with him? God is everywhere, not just in the chapels, mosques and temples.

Throughout history religion has been used by corrupt individuals to control people. Individuals have exercised horrible power over the public and have grown rich in the process, vaunting themselves above all others. Clearly these people were out of line with the gospel they preached, and yet people continued, and continue today in some cases, to follow them and support them in their corruption. Something must be going on in their minds to allow them to fall in step with this. If the people at church are willing to follow murderers in the name of God, why should anyone who can see through that want to associate with them?

Organized religion offers people an outlet for feeling good about themselves without having to do anything difficult to earn such feelings.

Churches emphasize conformity, but conformity to who, or to what? The hypocritical faith leaders? The blindly obedient sinners in the congregation? The old fashioned Puritanical traditions of our ancestors? How can God be the author of so much confusion? Why would he be the author of so much confusion? Organized religion is a scam. Worship God on your own.

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What do you think about organized religion? Do you agree with any of these arguments? Share your thoughts below and come back in two days to read the argument for organized religion.

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About paulbrodie

I am a writer and a musician. My education is in psychology with emphasis in industrial/organizational psychology. My work experience has been primarily with electronic document management. Academically and intellectually I am interested in criminology and sociology. I am married to my favorite person in the world and we have one daughter.
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8 Responses to Considering Organized Religion Part I

  1. Ed Raby Sr says:

    I guess I would like to see where you are going with this before I comment in depth. I am not much of a fan of religion myself, pastor though I am but I also know of many church leaders who are sincere in both their faith and actions. Seems religion is a thing only people can see the negative about but some good is done by people of faith as well.

    • paulbrodie says:

      Yes, wait and see where I am going. I’m trying to present some arguments I’ve heard and read without putting my personal feelings in, if I can, so these first two posts might not be what I actually believe. I don’t want to say specifically because I want it to remain mostly objective until the third post.

      Thank you for commenting and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the next posts or even on this one again. Please feel free to share, whether you agree or disagree. I’m looking for discussion, not contention, but disagreement is always welcome. And as a pastor I definitely welcome your perspective on organized religion!

      • Ed Raby Sr says:

        It is ultimately the comment that greed and corruption are present in organized religion like those things are somehow absent from things like politics or business that bothers me. We don’t go around saying – “I don’t believe in organized politics and business” because corruption and greed exist in them. I think the real question is when we organize something like faith at what point to we organize it so that it no longer is faith but religion.

        • paulbrodie says:

          Maybe we should say we don’t believe in organized politics, at least as far as it is organized currently in the U.S. In some cases I think this would be fair. I like the structure, but some of the elected’s agendas I don’t care for. Good comparison, Ed! You are right, we don’t denounce the system if we get corrupt politicians, but some people do denounce the system when there are corrupt faith leaders. Excellent rebuttal.

          Greed and corruption have the potential to exist in any organization made up of humans. They don’t have to, and hopefully they don’t exist in religious organizations, but churches are made up of people, so the potential is there, and I think there are plenty of instances where this is expressed.

          Clearly not all churches and people who affiliate with an organized religion fall victim to corruption, but some do. In finding a church to affiliate with we should be seeking the congregations that uplift and edify us, motivating us to become better.

          What do you mean by organizing so that faith is no longer faith, but religion? Do you mean that the focus is taken from the belief and put into the structure?

  2. I consider myself to be a spiritual person, but I don’t buy into organized religions. I see most of them as being a political tool, especially Catholicism. I also don’t see why we need other people (such as members of a church) validating our beliefs. I always thought it was funny that they always ask their members to share their relationship with the Lord as if they exchange letters.

    Instead, I read philosophies on spirituality and define what I feel for myself. It’s just that though, a feeling. I don’t pretend that I KNOW anything. Especially what this presence does or doesn’t approve of. I don’t buy into prophets and the like either.

    • paulbrodie says:

      Thank you for your thoughts on this subject.

      I also see the same criticisms at play in some organized religions as you have mentioned, but I don’t think they are present in all religions. At least, not rampant. I think in nearly any situation where you have people you will have corruption from power or greed.

      I like your observation about social validation occurring in churches.
      As a fan of social psychology I think social validation is a major contributing factor to church or religious affiliation. And though in some cases that seems insincere from the outside, I think it can still be positive in the life of an individual. Even if we believe in something that is false, if we truly believe it it can have the same effect on the brain as though it were true in an absolute sense.

      I’m curious about why you say you “don’t pretend [you] KNOW anything.” Do you think that it is incorrect for someone to say they know something that can’t be objectively proven? I’ve thought about the language in bearing witness or testimony of faith. Some people say they believe that God exists, for example, while others say they know that he does. I think an argument could be made that it is just semantics, but then again maybe there is something to it. I believe that the whole process of faith and religious principles follows the scientific method of asking a question and then experimenting in order to find an answer. Only with matters of faith where there haven’t been any objective evidence that can be 100% replicated, the evidence is subjective.

      Scientists can determine if a certain chemical will kill bacteria, and then other scientists can replicate it exactly. It will do the same thing every time. But with faith, I can pray and ask a question, but whatever feelings or experiences I use as evidence aren’t replicatable. But, if I truly believe them to be signs or a witness or answer to my question, what’s wrong with saying I know? I realize that in asking you this it might seem like I’m judging you for not declaring you know something that can’t be externally proven, but I’m not. I think it is an interesting topic and would like to hear more of your thoughts about using “I know” to describe personal feelings or beliefs.

      Again, thank you for commenting!

  3. Pingback: Considering Organized Religion Part II | Paul Brodie

  4. Pingback: Considering Organized Religion Part III | Paul Brodie

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