The Best Religion in the World

Posted on December 14, 2014

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Most people know the best religion in the world: THEIR’S! To me, most religions seem like competitors in a high-stakes championship. I am going to try and summarize all the issues I have with religion in as little space as I can, considering each of these would be (and are) epic-sized theses on their own. Not all of these will apply to each religion. But there are definitely mutation-combinations that will be relevant to each of them.

1. Treatment of women: I don’t understand why there are no women-centric religions (that are mainstream). I also don’t understand why religions go to great lengths in terms of differentiating between the roles of men and women. Actually, I do understand. It is called control of women’s freedoms. Of course, there are individual religious units where you will find some movements in terms of the status of women, but one won’t automatically think of religion as being liberating for women. Even Buddhism, the religion I draw most from has some strange beliefs of women not being able to attain ultimate liberation!

2. Rejection of certain groups of people: This one baffles me the most – the rejection of LGBTQ people. First of all, I hate the fact that there is a label like that existing to identify people. Imagine saying, “You know John, that heterosexual guy who was with me last time!” When religions are supposed to be propagating love, why would they reject anyone? Let’s not forget that not so long ago, there were segregated spaces based on colour around the world, and even in the 1990s in South Africa. In India, widows had to live in isolation. In Hinduism, female sex workers are not allowed to participate in rites and rituals. However, there’s no urgency in hunting down their client lists so that we can hurriedly excommunicate those men for their impurity! I think rape, murder and cheating people of their hard-earned money are some of the grounds for excommunication, but being gay? No way! No holy book, wise person or even a visiting well-meaning angel will convince me that rejecting people because they’re gay or engaged in the sex trade is okay!

3. Exclusivity: Most religions ask you to be part of their exclusive gang. It is a gang! You’re supposed to adhere to spoken (written) and unspoken norms, else risk being excommunicated. I identify as a Buddhist-Christian. But there is no such thing. I can’t proudly stand in church and say I love Buddhism. Or let’s say Islamic Hindu/Christian. There’s no such thing! To me, that’s absurd. In Hinduism, there are a million gods and goddesses, but you cannot worship Jesus along with those gods and goddesses. In fact, Christianity had to create an entire denomination called non-denominational just to reject internal exclusivity. If you’re Catholic and want to marry someone in the Orthodox church, either of you will have to convert to the other sect. This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard!

4. Evangelism: I go to church with Sid. Every church I have been to (except one) prays for more and more people to come home to Jesus. In fact, recently I have been to a few churches that focus especially on Muslims, and want them to become Christians. I don’t get that. Why can’t we say, “Let me be an embodiment of god’s love and grace. Let me learn from other religions so that I can peacefully co-exist.” Instead, we’re praying for Muslims to become Christians and vice-versa.

5. Places of worship: This one gets my goat the most. Every temple or church or synagogue or gurudwara is taking up precious resources to build these structures where there could have been schools, parks, hospitals, community centres, etc. Instead, we have these humongous structures that can be used for specific purposes by specific groups of people. They always begin small and then fund-raise to create these useless, albeit gorgeous structures!

For me, the best religion would be one where the congregating would take place in a park, under a tree or in a community center or in a school. It would welcome everyone from every religion. There would be no teacher or priest or “wise person”. We would all learn from each other. Each week, someone would volunteer to teach the rest of the people something new. The only tenets would be to learn, love and accept others. There would be meditation. There would be gospel music. There would be qawwali. There would definitely be nature worship as in paganism. There would be poetry. There would be bhajans. There would be no discrimination. There would be no association/organization/roster of members. There would be no charitable trust. There would be fundraising events for education, health, poverty alleviation and peace and social justice promotion. People would give not because they would get a tax break, but because giving makes you a better person. May be the money would go to a specific organization so that there is accountability and transparency. These organizations can be secular or religious, the only requirement being transparency in accounting. There will be no plaques made to commemorate anyone’s ridiculous memory, no matter who they are. Each person can choose rites and rituals from their existing religion or create new traditions. There would be no guilt-tripping, no evangelizing. You could keep your religious identity and still be part of this religion. There would be efforts made to protect the environment. For instance, there will be no printed weekly programs or handouts. There will be tap water, boiled and purified at home. There will be no religious texts or doctrines in this religion. The only basis would be to encourage a direct connection between oneself and the universe, a higher power, god, or whoever/whatever one believes in.

There would be non-religious teachings as well around gender, sexuality and body image, patriarchy, politics, economics, media, blogging, writing and anything else that gets thrown out in the meetings as a topic of interest.

Sounds like democracy? Sounds like utopia? Sounds like secularism? Sounds like humanism? I don’t know. But this is what my soul craves for. A place where I can learn about the world and its people. A space where I can proudly be who I am…a life-long learner and a skeptic. This would be my best religion. Does anyone want to come to the first meeting?

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Posted in: introspection