Rev. Alan Rudnick, a local figure and blogger for the Times Union, shared a spoken word video called “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” from fellow preacher Jefferson Bethke.

From Alan’s blog:

Though many will jump on this bandwagon of, “Yeah, we hate religion too… but love Jesus” let’s not forget that you cannot separate Jesus from religion. Why? We cannot forget what the word religion means, according to Webster: (1) the service and worship of God or the supernaturalcommitment or devotion to religious faith or observance (2): a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

As you can see, if you believe in Jesus, you are a religious person.  Somewhere in the craziness of history, being “religious” meant that you were a ignorant fool who is a hypocrite. Many have equated religion to mean, “a rigid dogma that has nothing to do with me”.  What Jesus spoke out against was the abuse of religion and its leaders who did not follow what they taught.

Alan has the video and links to a Facebook clarification from Bethke on what he meant. The blog also evokes an interesting discussion on faith and religion in the comments section,  which is amazing considering it’s a Times Union blog. If I weren’t an Atheist I would attribute it to some form of divine intervention.

To me what it comes down to is not the difference between religion and spirituality, but rather the difference between religion as spirituality and religion as institutionalization, politics, and control. It’s a distinction that we really only started to make in the latter half of the twentieth century. Throughout history, for better or for worse, the two have been intrinsically linked and mutually inclusive. Some would point to the Protestant Reformation as the real start of the more earnest separation of the two, though that would be giving much more credit and foresight than is probably deserved since that movement was very much based in political and institutional revolt inasmuch as it was the religious aspects.

I think we need to keep that in mind when discussing this, because otherwise we’ll prescribe intent retroactively. That can be dangerous and cloud us from seeing what’s really happening here, which is that after literally thousands of years of religion being used as a method of maintaining or growing a power structure, political mobilization, and/or building empires, human beings have reached a point where they can finally make the separation that they’re told exists between religion as a force and religion as a faith.

It’s certainly going to be an interesting next hundred years or so.

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