I'm exfundy, the guy that wrote "Removing the Veneer". In one of the comments I made reference to feeling many of my friends and extended family would be better people if they left their faith behind. Allow me to explain what I mean by giving a few examples.
For my first example I start with my friend Jim. Jim has a neighbor, Sam, that runs a local homeless shelter/soup kitchen. Sam asked Jim one day recently if he would help him out at the shelter that weekend giving out free school supplies to families who couldn't afford them. Sam explained that they were going to be extremely shorthanded as the response had been much more than expected.
Jim told him he couldn't help. Why? Because the 'Men's Group' at his church was getting together that day to paint some of the Sunday School classrooms at their church. Now don't misunderstand me, there is nothing inherently wrong with painting the Sunday school classrooms in his church. However, my question would be this. Is it really more important than helping those in need? Obviously the answer to that question for him was yes. I contend that is a case of priorities being gravely misplaced.
This example involves my Uncle John. John is a retired superhandyman. It seems he can build and fix just about anything.
I have a friend who is a single mom working full time, and taking a full load of classes at the local community college trying to make a better life for her family. One day she told me that her washing machine quit working and the handrail on the stairs leading to her kids room was very loose. She didn't have the money to fix either.
I called Uncle John. I explained my friends situation and asked him if he could help her with those things. What was his response? He didn't mind helping, but wasn't sure if he could make the time. I couldn't understand why considering I knew he was retired. I asked him about it. It seems his pastor gave him a list of things that needed built and fixed around the church and he couldn't help my friend until he got those done. He told me he would call when he could fit her into his schedule. That was several months ago and I still haven't heard from him.
Here again is another case of priorities gone so askew it would be funny if weren't so sad.
At my place of employment a co-worker's newborn daughter had been diagnosed with a rare medical condition. The prognosis was heartbreaking. There was nothing that could be done. The child would not live more than a few months. One of their doctors told them of a experimental procedure that might be able to fix her condition.
Unfortunately the word experimental meant insurance would not cover it. Business was booming meaning the standard work week at that time was Monday through Saturday. So management planned a fund raiser/support on a Sunday morning.
The overwhelming majority of Christians employed there made it known they could not attend because they had to be at church. So, management made provisions for the churchgoers to give money prior to the event. Many stated they wouldn't be able to give because they would already be out a lot of money that morning giving tithes and offering to their church.
I met a kindred spirit a while back that I'll call Ray. Ray used to be a fundy like me. Ray told me a story that he said ended up being the first step towards a new outlook for him.
It seems he walked out of his house one day and was about to get in his car when the little old lady that lives next door called out to him. She explained that she had been waiting on her daughter to pick her up and take her to the grocery. Due to a minor car accident earlier in the day her daughter was unable to drive. She asked Ray if he could take her by the grocery store just down the road. It would have only taken a half hour or so, but Ray told her he had somewhere he had to be. He got in his car and left.
Ray arrived home that night at about 10:30. Shortly after arriving home a knock at his door revealed his elderly neighbor. Ray took her to the grocery and even helped her carry her bags in to the house. As he began to help put the food away he realized much to his surprise that there had literally been nothing to eat in the house before he took her to the grocery.
What is being practiced in the 'sacred' buildings across this country should be called 'churchianity'. Ray said the guilt he felt was enormous when he realized where he had been all night. He met a group from his church in front of the local theater to protest some 'anti-Christian' movie. After they got done they went to some buffet restaurant and pigged out. He did this all while his neighbor sat at home with nothing to eat.
These are only four examples of many that I could have brought up. I have a theory as to why those who call themselves Christians do these things. But before I do, I want to make clear that none of the people mentioned in the above examples are bad people. My friend Jim is the type of guy that would give you the clothes off his back. My Uncle John is the perhaps the most kind and loving person I have ever met. The Christians I mentioned at my place of employment would have been happy to help someone under any other circumstances. I didn't know Ray when he was still a Christian but I think he was probably a great guy. So why is it that Christianity makes good people do things that are so bad?
My theory is simple. The most important thing in Christianity is not God or Jesus. God and Jesus are merely smokescreens for the real object of worship. The object held in highest esteem is the institution itself. Everything is centered around the buildings they meet in on Sunday morning. There are a few exceptions, but the examples above show exactly what I'm saying. For Jim what was more important than people in need? Making sure his church building looked good. For John what was more important than helping a struggling single mother? Making sure every little thing in his church was in perfect working order. For the Christians at my workplace what was more important than trying to help a young couple save the life of their child? It was Sunday morning church attendance and giving money to their church. For Ray what was more important than helping his neighbor? Attending a church sponsored event and hanging out with his church friends.
Do you see a pattern? Supporting the institution and all its various functions in every possible way is the most important part of Christianity. Before I walked away from Christianity I tried to be a Christian without going to church. I was told in no uncertain terms that as a Christian I had to be in church. I was told as a Christian I had to give my ten percent to my church. It didn't take long before I realized that Christianity is not what is being practiced by those attending church every Sunday morning. What is being practiced in the 'sacred' buildings across this country should be called 'churchianity'.
As I look back over all the time I spent as a Christian I can see that nothing was ever more important than support of the institution itself. You don't have to look very far to see that the building with the steeple on top took precedence over everything, and that included helping those in need. It's the accepted version of idolatry in Christianity.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)