Sunday, March 25, 2007

From Pete's Pulpit:
It's not the religion fails people - it's the people that fail their religion.

It's hard to look at this world, and some of the people who get ahead, without asking ourselves why we should be moral, ethical and responsbile. However normal it is to think like this, the question should be off limits for people who profess strong religious beliefs, right? After all, what religion does not mandate morality?

To religious people, the motivation is grounded in the acceptance of a duty to be a good person in the eyes of God, not in anticipation of personal benefits. Dishonest, irresponsible, or unfair conduct is simply wrong. Many people quote the bible on this.

Although skeptics may be suspicious of the rhetoric of religious advocates and preachers, there is a positive relationship between religious conviction and virtue. The vast majority of deeply religious people draw guidance and strength from their beliefs and live better lives. We are not all perfect, but at least religion can give us the strength to try.

Still, religious claims and sincere convictions are no guarantee of genuine righteousness.

Besides disturbed individuals who believe God commands them to perform horrible acts, such as Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, or priests who molest parishioners, we must face the fact that Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom and John Rigas of Adelphia, the masterminds of some of the world`s greatest swindles, were highly vocal and visible about their Christian beliefs. For many true believers, these people put a scar on believing in a higher power.

Whether these wrongdoers were mentally ill, hypocrites, frauds, or sincere believers with personal weaknesses, they remind us we can't take for granted the link between religious claims and worthy conduct. It's not the religion fails people - it's the people that fail their religion.

In the end, regardless of its source, righteousness is revealed in ethical and upright conduct, not rhetoric. Believing in a "higher Power" is better than believing in nothing at all. If living a life according to a purpose set forth by my God, or your God and make you think before you act, then maybe it's not a bad thing.

This might even lead us to a day when we're walking down the hallway at work and somebody asks us, "How ya doin'?" and we reply with, "Pretty Good!" as opossed to, "hunh?"