I have my own view of religion and prayer being forced on everyone as mandatory practice. I figure that religion was wisely taken out of schools because it tends to be divisive. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against religion. Religion is a powerful force. Then again, so is spirituality. Interestingly, religion and spirituality are not necessarily the same thing.
Here are my very personal and close-to-my-heart reasons for disagreeing with the sentiments in the “new” Lord’s Prayer:
- Religion has split my family into Jehovah’s Witnesses vs. non-Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most of my family is not allowed to talk to me since I left the family religion.
- Religion has divided Christians from non-Christians (Muslims, Jews, First Nations, and non-religious folk alike — religion turned all believers and non-believers against each other).
- Religion demonizes and puts totem poles in the same box with witchcraft. Religions apparently do not seem to recognize that totem poles merely acknowledge family lineage much like a photo album.
- Religion has even divided certain Christians from other Christians (Catholics against Protestants, Anglicans, etc.).
- Religion has even divided members of the same religious denomination against each other (fundamentalists vs. moderates.
- Religion has been the cause of wars and ethnic purgings from the beginning of history (some Jews vs. some Palestinians).
- Religion splits up children in school. For example, recently in a city called Burnaby, B.C., religious folk were discovered encouraging their children to bully other children who had gay and lesbian parents. The school board had to pass a law to get those fundamentalist religious parents to stop the bullying. Those parents were in effect teaching their children that it was okay to bully other children who had different beliefs or who lived by different standards.
Basically, this "new" prayer condemns how people choose to live their lives, if they happen to be different from a religious believer. Apparently, most religions feel that theirs is the only true religion and all others are false. Good vs. evil — right vs. wrong — heaven vs. hell — and even hell vs. Armageddon. Religion does not seem to acknowledge that people would really prefer to live their lives without fear of being judged by others who they don’t even know — or who don’t really know them either, for that matter. Perhaps religious people would like still more heavy-handedness to preach and convert and force their beliefs on others. Please bear in mind that secular people may be secular, not because they aren’t spiritual, but because religion is a turn-off. Religion is too pushy for some “more private” people.
For the above reasons I will not forward the prayer to anyone. Furthermore, using shame to get this message passed on is just so typical of pushy fundamentalists. Again, at the end of the message, readers get another request to pass on the prayer, now using shame as a motivator, using a scripture to induce still more fear.
How's that for an example of using shame to promote hate? What a dangerous meme! I don’t feel that Jesus would be ashamed of me for not forwarding such a prayer to all my friends. I feel that one person’s chaos is another person’s heaven. To me, religion is about following rules — whereas spirituality is more about following the heart. I realize that some religious people would, with rapid-fire response, quote a scripture warning me not to trust my heart, insisting,
“The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?”—Jeremiah 17:9 (NWT)
What follows is a scripture found in the new testament that I take to heart, where the Apostle Paul lovingly affirms:
For whenever people of the nations that do not have law do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them, and between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused.—Romans 2:14-15 (NWT)
Yes indeed, I keep remembering that we are all human, all flesh and blood, and therefore all equal, regardless of beliefs. Maybe a little less belief and a little more respect would emit more harmony and less division to humanity. I speculate more about what the Apostle Paul may have meant in “Following My Conscience."
If you’re curious, more information about the "new" Lord’s Prayer may be found on the Snopes website.
I welcome your comments.