A friend on facebook posted the video below and asked for comments:
I sent my friend the following email (proper names redacted):
You solicited comments on the video of the guy who loves Jesus but not religion. This is a fairly lengthy reply, and I didn’t feel it appropriate to put in your facebook comments to clog them up. First a little background on my life.
My parents raised me in a Baptist church. I am sure you are familiar with Baptists being in xxx and all, but to say the least it was a very strict, but loving environment at that church. I also went to the Baptist school that was attached to the church until 9th grade.
There was a falling out with the Baptist church when I was a freshman in high school. I transferred to an Assembly of God school. We never returned to any church.
The crux of the falling out was twofold. First, my dad was putting in excruciating hours at work to get the xxx store moving (sound familiar? haha!). He simply didn’t have the energy to attend the Baptist church anymore and we didn’t have the money to give as we had previously. My parents started feeling heat from the elders at the Baptist church for this and couldn’t believe what was happening. My father thought that it was more important to take care of and feed his family than not get any sleep on his one day off so my parents told the Baptist church to “pound sand”.
During summers when I was little, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, who were Lutherans from the old country (Germany). I attended the Lutheran services with them.
I am prefacing my reactions to the video with this background to show that I know my Bible a bit, and also have some experience with organized religion. Most of the experiences were good. Some were not so good.
In general, I think the video is interesting and I see his point. But he paints with too broad of a brush in some spots.
You really cannot worship a man like Jesus without being in a religion yourself. The man in the video claims to despise religion, but if he is worshipping Jesus, well, hate to break it to you, you are participating in a religion, and it is called Christianity. Christianity takes many forms – Lutheran, Baptist, Catholicism, and scads of others. You can call it anything you want. Heck, you can call it “Dave’s religion”, I don’t care. If you worship Jesus as the man in the video says he does, you are participating in an act that requires a leap of faith. There is no scientific way to explain miracles that Jesus supposedly performed while on earth, or to prove (or disprove) things like the resurrection.
I did not like the way the man in the video broad brushed all churches. Yes, bad things happen in churches. They are run by men and women and there will always be politics. Throwing out an accusation like he said in the video of “why are there poor/hungry people when we have churches” (I paraphrase, of course) is just not fair. Some people don’t want help. Some people, help cannot be had (iron regimes, or whatever – are you going to start smuggling guns into Tibet to fight the Chinese? I’m not). In many places I will admit, religion and superstition are the causes of poverty and social stratification (typically not in the United States). However, so many churches do so many good things I thought it was disingenuous at best for him not to say that. The Lutheran church I attended with my grandparents did absolutely everything they could all the time for disadvantaged people here and abroad. The Catholic Church is the single largest charitable organization in the world. There are many more examples, but all churches aren’t all bad. Period. Are some churches bad? Perhaps. I would rather hear the guy say that certain individuals in certain places are bad, such as the Catholic priests who molested the children. This doesn’t make all Catholics or the church itself any more guilty than if someone who worked for me robbed a bank and then all of a sudden people began saying that xxx folks were all bank robbers.
As for the point he makes that Jesus says there doesn’t need to be a church, it isn’t as simple as that either. There is debate on both sides as to what exactly Jesus said and wanted and a lot of it comes down to translations of different versions of the Bible. This is why we have so many different sects of Christianity – different people translate things differently. I don’t need to bore you with that but again, I think it is disingenuous for the guy in the video to make that blanket statement.
Why did he bring politics into the video? I don’t understand why the line “what if I told you voting Republican wasn’t his mission/voting Republican doesn’t = Christian” was WAY out of place in a theological discussion and gives me a hint as to exactly where he is coming from (more on this in a bit). Why did he single out Republican voters? Does he not think that there are no people that vote Republican that aren’t Buddhists or Jews? Does he also not think that there are no Christians that vote Democrat?
Also of note is that Christianity is the only religion he takes a swipe at. Does he not think that Islam or Judaism or Buddhism have issues? I understand that his points need to be compacted into a short video but again, why the hate for Christianity alone?
As for me, today, I have been an agnostic at best for quite some time. My feelings are the same that my father had when I was a boy. My family is the most important thing to me. It is my responsibility FIRST to take care of my wife and kids. If that means that I can’t go to church, so be it. And that is what that means. I work usually 60-70 hours a week and by god, if I want to ride my bike on Sunday morning to relax or workout instead of sitting in the pews, that is what I will do. And that is what I do. In the end, I believe if you live a good life and there is something or someone to atone to when it is all over, I will be fine. Jesus would think so, I believe.
My children go to a Catholic school, and they and my wife will likely be turning Catholic very soon. I refuse to do it and not only is my family OK with this, the Catholic church is absolutely supportive of my decision. I just have too many things I don’t accept about Catholicism to convert to that religion (or any religion for that matter). The congregation at that church and the attached school is made up of fantastic and wonderfully supportive people.
As for the guy in the video, I think he is full of crap. The bashing of Republicans and singling out Christianity for his anti religion screed smell to high heaven to me. But that is of course just a guess. Your mileage may vary.
It was an interesting piece and I understand where he comes from, since I have been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
I know this was long and that is why I didn’t want to put it in facebook – these issues take a lot of thought and are much more complex than a short comment can allow.
Looking forward to seeing you (and xxx?) in San Diego!
Best Regards, Dan.