Singing hallelujah everywhere does not prove piety.
African proverb

iStock_000000481251SmallWe sat, as old friends often do, reconnecting and reaffirming our nearly 35 years of friendship. When he told me he read my blogs I was thrilled and honored as he is an avid and discriminating reader. When I told him of my interest in writing this particular blog he cautioned against sweeping and unfair generalizations about religious people. Quite simply, he noted, the real issue is hypocrisy. Perhaps it is hypocrisy which tests us. Human beings are walking contradictions and most strive mightily to reconcile the warring sides of right and wrong. Most people, however, don’t lift themselves as models of godly living. There is something epically off-putting when confronting the righteous saintliness of people who are so publicly vocal about what is right and wrong and privately live lives that are anything but. Their narrow views of God’s will and intention for all humanity are so sternly and rigidly pronounced they leave no room for a counter pathway to God’s grace.

Some of the most hateful people I have encountered have also been, by their own admission, the most religious. I have never been fully able to reconcile that contradiction and it has left me firmly skeptical and unmoved by people who lead with their piousness. In my experience, people who proudly tout their religion, usually  are often the most ungodly like in their self-righteousness, narrowness and intolerance. They are judgmental, disapproving, unkind and capable of the meanest actions and words against anyone who walks a different spiritual path. They are often humorless, incapable and unwilling to bring light into their lives or those they encounter. Nothing about the way they live their faith inspires, at least in me, admiration or respect. These are people I intentionally keep far away from  my life.

They never seem to recognize or acknowledge the extreme dissonance between the basic tenets of most religions which espouse charity and loving acceptance and their rigid, joyless approach to life. History has confirmed the most atrocious acts of human beings against other human beings in the name of religion. These  religious people have exacted enormous pain in their uncompromising certainty about what God wants for every human being. While the extremes occupy the limelight, every day somewhere someone is subjected to some staunchly religious person’s singular religious view which impacts the quality of their life. In my mind, the truest qualities of a good, kind, and charitable person attempting to live and manifest their faith is completely antithetical to what many of these religiously pious represent.

The encounter of genuine good in a human being is an unforgettable experience. What you meet is a pure expression of a gentleness of spirit which reaffirms the existence of the power and presence of God and offers a glimpse of humanity at its best.  Good people are never given to announcing their goodness and rarely do they shame those struggling with spiritual maturity. Thiers is a true embrace which draws us to want to be our best selves. That, for me, is the real power of honest-to-goodness piety. Spare me the experience of bible-toting, bible-quoting, hypocrites!


  1. Well, alrighty then! I have to say you pretty much summed up the current state of many who sit in the pews on Sunday morning. Over the centuries, religion has been used to control and coerce the masses so as to serve the needs of those who held the power.
    Even today, when we look at what is happening in the Middle East, the mainstream media is quick to label Muslims/Islamists as bad guys, when in fact Islam is a religion of peace and their Mommas love their Children just as we do here in the good ole USA!

    ~These religious people have exacted enormous pain in their uncompromising certainty about what God wants for every human being~

    Manipulation, Hate, Hypocrisy all in the name of religion.
    I believe it was Karl Marx who said, “Religion is the Opium of the people”. How did American slave owners mentally shackle newly arrived Africans? How does the western world continue to maintain a foothold in Africa?
    Even in Ireland for over 30 years Protestants and Catholics blew each other up and killed one another’s children, all in the name of religion.

    The topic of religion is such a ‘third rail’. You have to be so careful and I commend you for maintaining a narrow focal point in how you have chosen to treat this commentary.

    The best religion, I believe, remains the Golden Rule – Do unto others….

    Peace, Ted