Dear Abby may not be a great source of news, but it is sometimes a fascinating insight into what many people are thinking today. Just recently someone submitted an answer to Abby's query "What do you think is society's greatest problem?" The writer did not think she would print it, but Abby said that it had "merit." Here is what the writer said:
"...in my opinion organized religion has a lot to do with why the world is so badly messed up. Although most religions espouse values of kindness, generosity and good works, in practical application, it seems that religion is used more often to divide 'them' from 'us,' and to give people yet another way to discriminate against one another. It isn't limited to wars between different religions; one need only look back a few years to see different sects of Christians killing and terrorizing each other in Northern Ireland. And look at the state of religious warfare today. Muslims are murdering and terrorizing other Muslims in Iraq just for belonging to a different sect of Islam. If people were more concerned with doing the right things in THIS world, rather than preoccupying with what is going to happen in the NEXT one, our world would be a better place."
The opinion that "organized religion" is responsible for the world's ills is not a new idea. Many agnostics and liberal humanists have proposed the same point for many years. It is unfortunate that a few examples of radical extremism are used to color the entire picture of religion as a whole, not to mention the Christian Church, which is usually the culprit in this kind of discussions.
It is also interesting that this writer finds that religious people should be more preoccupied with current events, rather than matters of eternity, which is reflective of the goals of liberal Christianity and the ever popular "Social Gospel." As a pastor for many years I would propose that the opposite is the problem. If only people were more preoccupied with matters of eternity, they might think and act differently in the present, being more aware of the far reaching consequences of their behavior and its damaging effects on their faith. This writer, like so many, fails in the end to understand that "organized religion" is not the issue. The issue is sin and evil. Religion, like any organization of people, is not immune to the effects of sin or the temptations of evil. But discussing sin and evil today is not popular. Tolerance is the great virtue, even if it means tolerating and overlooking all manner of sinfulness. And look where that has gotten us.