Guest Post: “Religion Makes People Stupid!”

(This is a guest post from Carl Medearis, an international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations. Carl acts as a catalyst for a number of current movements in the Middle East to promote peace-making, as well as cultural, political and religious dialogue leading toward reconciliation. Carl spends much of his time working with leaders both in the West and in the Arab world with the hope of seeing the Arab Middle East and the West experience full and fruitful relationships through the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.)

The post below is taken from a recent post on Carl’s blog – http://www.carlmedearis.com/blog/2013/08/religion-makes-people-stupid/ – and used with his permission. Note: guest posts are for the purpose of creating fresh thought and dialogue and do not necessarily represent my views.)

Here is Carl’s guest post:

“Religion Makes People Stupid!”

I said that to someone just this morning. Sort of a knee-jerk reaction. They asked about what’s going on in Egypt and out it came – “Religion makes people stupid.” I said it. I stand by it.

I typically prefer more nuance. Maybe saying something like “Being overly religious makes people do stupid things sometimes.” Or how about, “The religiosity of the Pharisees is what Jesus spoke so clearly against.”

But I’m sick of it.

Religion.

Okay, I know there’s ONE time in the Scriptures that the word “religion” is used positively. James says that “the true religion the Father accepts is looking after orphans and widows.” So we all know THAT religion is a good one. But what actual earthly religion honestly promotes that as its main theme? Exactly.

So I hate religion.

The religion that makes some Muslim Brotherhood go to the Mosque on Friday and come out in a total rage and go burn a church.

The religion that makes Christians come out of church on a Sunday in Nigeria and go burn a mosque.

The religion that makes a half a million Shi’ites in south Lebanon say they will do whatever it takes to fight the “evil Sunnis.” (And vice versa in Syria).

The religion that makes the Ku Klux Klan quote the Bible in support of it’s racist bigotry.

The religion that makes all of us at times condemn and judge the outsider – the other. The one that makes whole nations and ethnic populations think that God has given them (and only them) some sort of special mandate to subjugate another people.

Whether Catholic “explorers” killing New World natives in the name of God 400 years ago, or Protestant missionaries bringing democracy and small pox to those same native Americans 200 years ago, or Jews expelling hundreds of thousands from their home in Palestine last century, or Muslims blowing up innocent men, women and children in a crowded market in Baghdad, Beirut or Tel Aviv – it’s all stupid.

Religion makes people stupid. Maybe the New Atheists are right. We are stupid when we blindly follow our religions.

Thankfully many are waking up and choosing to follow Jesus instead. Jesus brings Life and Freedom. Healing and Peace. When we follow him, we get our brains back – in humility, we stop being stupid.

Fight Stupidity. Follow Jesus!

(Postscript to my readers: so. . .what do you think of Carl’s post? It is right on? Ridiculous? Or somewhere in the middle? Are we stupid when we “blindly follow our religions”? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a reply below.)

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: “Religion Makes People Stupid!”

  1. If “religion” is defined as blind faith—-then yes, it is stupid to follow that religion because then it is no different than superstition.

    If “religion” is defined as “a way of life built upon ethico-moral principles” then following it is the smart thing to do.

    Buddhism has Dharma (law) that forms the ethico-moral principles of right living.
    Judaism has Halakha and Islam has Sharia—a code of right and wrong conduct, Daoism has the Tao (right way) and the Tao te ching spells out its ethico-moral principles………………….etc…….

    • To my Muslim friend,

      I have been thinking a lot about the word “religion.” It certainly means different things to different people, right? I learned a long time ago in freshman college English that meanings are not in words – meanings are in people.

      You have to get people to define their words to effectively communicate with them.

      In the guest blog, I think Carl Medearis was referring to religion – defining it – as a set of rules, obligations, rituals that are not really from God and do not lead a person to God. Rather, the way many people practice religion leads them away from God. Far away.

      The people who hated Jesus – and we believe killed him – were by this definition incredibly religious. The most religious people of their day. They obeyed religious rules, practiced religious rituals. But there was one problem. It was not from the heart. It was just. . .religion.

      Isa – Jesus – said to them:
      You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'”

      The word “religion” – as you noted – can be used in a positive way. But so often, “religious” people do some pretty crazy things. I think that is what Carl was alluding to.

      (I hope to do a future blog post on “religion or relationship.” True religion – right religion – should bring into real, vital, exciting relationship with God.)

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