Religion – a dirty word, really?


If I really had the influence to change the Christian world, there would be an awful lot of things I’d fix before this. I mean, amongst 2000 years of heritage are countless atrocities perpetrated in the name of God, and not all of them are musical.

One slightly smaller matter than the Crusades that nonetheless winds me up is the trend amongst evangelicals in recent years to denounce the word ‘religion’. “Oh no”, they say, “I’m not religious. I have faith.” That’s right, the most outward-looking members of the world’s biggest religion/faith have used the post-modern era, of all eras, to invent a phrase that communicates complete distaste for every other part of the ‘Body’ and its entire history. And because we think that this is a better way to communicate to non-believers.

We don’t like ‘religion’, after all. All that baggage, the slowly turning wheels of modernisation and the lunacy of war-by-committee on such crucial aspects of spirituality as what colour chairs to buy or whether to run all the songs together or stop in between so the musicians can take on water and capos.

But when on earth did this irrelevant shuffling of deckchairs on the Titanic become attached to the word ‘religion’? Those of us in the Christian ‘faith’ find ourselves amongst the latest generation of the greatest human movement the globe has ever seen. Should we really be so ashamed to align ourselves with a billion or so other believers?

In honesty, I have to confess that if a work colleague asks me “are you religious?”, I tend to say “no”. I can see why this change of nomenclature happened, wanting to make clear our simple and unfussy belief system, avoiding irrelevant matters of human detail and focusing on the rather bigger matter of an omnipresent and all-powerful God who has direct communication with humans.

Because that is clearly far less of a problem to most people than the drama of which song lyric software package you power your project on.

Perhaps we hope that by confusing those around us into thinking we are not religious, they will overlook our extraordinary beliefs and feel more amenable towards this undefined “no, just faith” idea ….. right?

Or maybe it’s time to rehabilitate this rich and broad word. We are religious, after all, whether we like the sound of the fact or not.

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