Q. Atheist actor and writer Ricky Gervais is working on a new show, Afterlife , which features “an atheist who dies and goes to heaven.” If Gervais hopes to bring cultural acceptance of non-belief to mainstream America, he faces an uphill battle. Polls show that many Americans distrust atheists and nearly half say they would not vote for one. Should it matter whether or not a politician believes in God? As mainstream acceptance of other minority groups grows, will atheists still lag behind?
As Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Baha’is, Jains, Confucians, Taos, Shinto, Zoroastrians, etc., have freedom of their belief systems and are respected for their respective choices, and so should be the atheists and people with “no religion.” We as religious leaders and organizations should exhibit more maturity, inclusiveness and large-heartedness and get rid of obsession of some of us against atheism, which is the belief of a considerable chunk of world population.
Who are we as human beings to judge publicly that other humans’ beliefs different than us are wrong?
Frankly, it is the fault of us religious leaders and organizations if atheism or “no religion” is growing in the world. We need to do a better job to make religion more vibrant, attractive and engaging to keep people in God’s fold. Our efforts at social control, judgmentalism, stagnant approach, etc., might be turning them away resulting in many of them questioning belief in God, equating religion with fear, etc. Some of them, who still believe in God, seem to be bypassing religion to reach God questioning the linkage between “man made religions” and God. “If I “am a good person, I should be fine,” many of them argue.
Life is getting complex and distractions are increasing in this consumerist society, so religion seems to be slipping away from the priority list of many. Conventional style of dealing with spirituality and religion do not appear to be effectively working, especially with today’s youth. We need to make it more exciting and challenging.
We as religious leaders should live exemplary lives to add credibility to our preaching. Give them fresh answers without any religious stigma attached. Listen to what the people have to say before giving your opinion to them. Accept the people who and as they are. Make religion lively and not stagnant.
A spiritual world will be a better place to live than a non-spiritual world.
Moreover, a strong religious affiliation is no guarantee of enhanced competence in public life. Purity of life, openness of mind, and a broad and sympathetic desire to be of service to everyone seem to be more helpful.
Rajan Zed | Jul 21, 2011 10:24 PM