Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

Don’t call it religion.

It seems that religious people are fleeing the word ‘religion’.

Sociologists say we are increasingly divided over religion’s place in public life, but that when it comes to language, Americans are moving in one direction: toward a new vernacular.

We’re no longer “religious.” We’re “holy.” We’re “faithful.” We’re “spiritual.” We talk about what ”the Gospel compels us to do” or “gospel living.” Or “sabbatical living” and “God-oriented behavior.”

No wonder the word is poison. Religion’s characteristic blend of narrow-minded dogma, superstition, sexual busybodyism, and hypocrisy has rightly made it toxic, especially to younger people.

Polling shows that young Americans are considerably less apt to have religious affiliations than earlier generations were at the same age. They attend religious services less often and fewer of them say religion is important in their lives.

I think this thesaurus-trawling is merely cosmetic. Call Christianity a ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ if you want, it’s still a religion. As one interviewee says:

“The bottom line is: Christianity is a religion. You can’t get away from it,” he said. “If it walks like a duck, with doctrines, dogma, structures, everything a religion has, it’s a duck.”

The article’s pretty critical of religion, but one criticism goes untouched: Religion is a very poor way of reasoning and understanding the world. It relies on confirmation bias and evidence mining. It places preconceptions higher than facts. And this is true, not just of religion, but of all the other things that religious people are making lateral moves toward; supernaturalism, spirituality, god-oriented behaviour (how long before we hear GOB?), call it what you will.

Different name, same tactics. This ploy to alter the language of religion is a transparent semantic dodge.

1 Comment

  1. I've had discussions with people who insist they aren't religious but it seems what they really mean is that they don't follow any particular organised religion.

    In some respects, this strikes me as a superiority complex – they know there's something out there, and it's important, but all the recognised religions have got it wrong.

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