By Rev. Dr. Shannon Rogers, DDiv, UCCA.
We are not born with our minds and hearts filled with: hate, bigotry, greed, prejudice, or any other such attitudes or beliefs. These are learned behaviors. And we are conditioned by others around us to choose, accept and use them. It is a cognizant choice we willingly make for ourselves. They are not something we “have to do” they are attitudes we “choose to have”. And the more we exercise them the easier it is to blindly justify them. Or, we can choose to accept the fact that these exist, know them to be wrong and detrimental, and do something about them. Just as we chose to accept them, we can also choose to reject them.But, the question is often asked. From where do we acquire these “learned behaviors”? And shockingly to most Christians and others. Most often, we learn them from the divisive dogmatic theologies we are taught in
But, the question is often asked. From where do we acquire these “learned behaviors”? And shockingly to most Christians and others. Most often, we learn them from the divisive dogmatic theologies we are taught in church; that are then reinforced by our families and society, including our political entities.
When I look at the failures within our society, especially within the main-stream Christian communities. I can only find one entity to “blame”. And that is our churches and those who lead them and determine what they preach and teach. Many others are seeing this also and walking away, and the clergy ask why? Two great examples of “wrongful religious teaching” are found in the Westboro Church and ISIS. I use these two because their hateful, bigoted and divisive teachings are the same. True one is Christian and the other Muslim but they both are equally wrong. And yes, to differing degrees, there are many others who fall into this group.
We should each honestly examine our religious teachings and determine if perhaps, we too have fallen victim and believe our way is the only way, with a blind and obedient amen. Perhaps you too have been taken in by divisive teachings. You won’t know until you honestly look.
I have been in the Christian ministry for almost 30 years. I left the mainstream churches and went another way several years ago for this very reason. I simply got tired of looking in a mirror knowing that I had failed and was leading the “sheep” down the wrong path. I examined the “doctrines” I was preaching and determined they were no longer something that I could support. Because they were used to “condition” the followers to be closed minded, even to reality. They were used to teach them to be good church members and willing supporters instead of how to live a life of unconditional love as taught by Jesus and witnessed by his life.
I now serve a Unitarian Christian community that believes the teachings of Jesus are centered in unconditional love for all of God’s creations and all humankind. He taught a way of life not a creed to recite or a doctrine to force onto others. He didn’t teach this is any church or dogmatic theology, he taught how we should live. We believe his simple message and see it in the example of his life as found in the Gospels. I just wish I could spread our message to the rest of the world, especially to the people in this country.