When Did I Become A Religious Bigot?

Bigot: A person who is or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

I’ve recently been thinking about the famous speech given by Rev.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. entitled, “I Have A Dream”. When Martin Luther gave that speech it shook the nation, maybe even the world, because of his boldness and for what the speech stood for. He spoke to a body of people, not just white people on how the blacks wish to be treated, or to black people on what their rights were, he spoke to us all. Common people, black and white, law makers and law enforcers; he spoke to everyone of us. He couldn’t just point a finger at the white people without telling his fellow brother to not allow hatred to be harbored in his heart. Nor could he just ask his fellow brother to forgive the whites for all the injustices; or how would the whites have been pricked in their hearts? With many words and with boldness, he asked us to love each other in spite of our differences.

While we now live in a free nation where we strive to show equal rights regardless of skin color; bigotry is still alive and well. It’s seen at election time when people of all races and ages begin choosing a side. Neighbor against neighbor, coworker against coworker, family member against family member. We began arguing with each other in hopes to change them to our political party. Each side believes that they are the ones who are right, and that everyone else is just ignorant. Each side feels so strongly about this that we can hardly bare to look at our neighbor if they have a sign in their front lawn supporting the “other guy”. Even driving down the road and seeing a bumper sticker supporting the “wrong guy” can set us off. Even worst though is the people on the radio and television showing support for their candidate and telling us why we should shouldn’t be voting for the “other guy”. Worst of all however is the candidates themselves! They try proving how right they are by showing how wrong the other candidate is, no matter if what they are saying is really all true or not.

When I look at religion today, I see much of the same things. While I do believe that we need religion and the structure it offers, I believe, over all, it has become a body of suffering people drunk on the pride of religious bigotry. When did religion become about; “if you don’t believe what I do, exactly as I do, I don’t have to really love you”? When did we start believing that God only really loves, cares, and listens to us when we are a part or our religion? When did we start believing that if people come to our church, and then stop for whatever reason, we don’t really have to show them the same love anymore because they have “walked away from truth”? Are we no different than the Jews of Paul’s time when Paul had to circumcise Timothy because of the religious bigotry all around him? See Acts 16. P

Paul, like Martin Luther, was ground breaking in his day. The peculiar thing is, it was for just about the same reasons. No one wanted to take the gospel to the Gentiles, even though Jesus told them in the great commission, “Go into all the world”! Why wouldn’t they? Religious bigotry! “We are better then them”. It took a man like Paul, a man unafraid of what the normal ways of thinking were to change a nation; to change the world! It took a man like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a black man in a white man’s country unafraid of the normal ways of thinking; to change his nation, to change the world! What will it take today to change this broken world in which we live? Who will it take? While we are not satisfied with how things are, we are comfortable with our situations; and many of those who are not comfortable find it easier not to change. We all want to be loved, but not many of us are looking to love those we can’t tolerate or understand. What then of Jesus while he was being beaten and hung on a cross by those who were guilty? What were his finial words, his final actions? “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Then he died.

Oh the hurt of this world in which we live! Oh the discomfort and pain of our fellow brothers and sisters all around us! How long will we remain drunk on our religious pride and bigotry? How long will we ignore the faces we see, and the hurt that is etched deep into their eyes? How long will we “stand for truth” when we have never really lived it to begin with? Our battle is not republican against democrat, or one religion against another; our battle is with the enemy of our souls, and he has us blinded by our own pride.

Please make no mistake; this is not a call to leave religion behind. It’s a call for healing and love. The real questions begging for answers can only be answered by you. Who will go? Who will stand alone if needs be? Who will love when others don’t know how?

1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says “I love God,” but keeps on hating his brother, he is a liar; for if he doesn’t love his brother who is right there in front of him, how can he love God whom he has never seen? And God himself has said that one must love not only God but his brother too.

Ephesians 6:12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.