The Coastal Post - April, 1997

God's Name In Vain

"What Christians have got to do is take back this country, one precinct at a time, one neighborhood at a time, and one state at a time. I honestly believe that in my lifetime we will see a country once again governed by Christians and Christian values."

-Ralph Reed, Executive Director, The Christian Coalition

"In America today, the people who have come into [our] institutions are primarily termites. They are destroying institutions that have been built by Christians...the termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be. The time has come for a godly fumigation."

-Reverend Pat Robertson, Founder, The Christian Coalition

Poor God! His name is bandied about profusely and frivolously by all kinds of religious sects. In any conflict with people of other traditions and loyalties God is "on our side."

When torn apart by such inner conflicts, humans become neurotic, psychotic, or whatever. How must God feel when those who worship Allah (God) and His Word (the Koran) go about with their killing, those who worship Yahweh (God) and His Word (the Torah) go about with their killings, and those who worship the Trinity (God) and His Word (the Bible) go about with their killing? All believe God especially favors their side.

All of these-Moslems, Jews, Christians-claim to worship the One Universal Creator that made the heavens and the earth, as well as humankind, the flora and fauna of earth, and all the stars and galaxies in space.

The fact is, many of these "religious believers" do not worship a universal deity. They are worshippers of tribal gods, giving these the name of the Universal Creator.

Let it be clearly understood that I am not here discussing whether a Creator God does or does not exist. Perhaps there is such a God. Possibly not. My concern is the nature of the attitudes, policies and deeds of certain worshippers.

That God does exist in the minds of those who identify themselves as "believers" cannot be denied. Furthermore, these mental images of God are shaped to be favorable to the particular believers.

Most of these believers of all faiths see God as caring, protective and authoritative. while He may punish us when we do wrong, He will love us again when we reform. They believe that God cares for all His children, especially those who express their respect for Him by performing certain rituals-letting Him know what we want and need by our prayers, by kneeling, bowing, facing toward a Holy City, chanting, fasting, wearing hats, barring our heads in "His House," eating bread and drinking wine, avoiding drinking wine, reading and heeding His Word in Koran, Torah and Bible.

Certain rituals are traditional with believers and become scared when linked to the mental image we call "God." The God belief places the stamp of Supreme Validity and Authority on attitudes and customs that are familiar and agreeable to us. Our minds have created the God concept in our own image.

Our Holy Books are sufficiently variegated so that we can find a God image to fit our particular values and outlook. While some believe in a God of Love and Forgiveness, others prefer a God of (what they call) Justice. If we hate the haters and would kill the killers, there is a stern God that demands revenge, punishment-death penalty, stoning of adulterers, cutting off hands of thieves, castrating rapists, etc.

Those who appeal to their God image as authority for their policies and deeds born of selfishness (ruthless profiteering), hate and fear (militarism, death penalty) condemn alternatives of their values as "ungodly," "subversive," etc. their minds are closed by their use of "Supreme Authority," guarded by the ramparts of bigotry.

By claiming that God favors and has blessed something we favor-tradition, ritual, tribe, nation, book, money, belief system, etc., we raise that something to the highest level. If is now sanctified and becomes the object of our worship.

When we worship any of these abstractions as more sacred than Life, or more than the lives of our fellow-human beings, we have created a false god. Those who would kill, hate, or reject other human beings on behalf of a nation, religion or "principle" are not worshippers of a Universal Spirit, but of a tribal god.

Those who claim their nation is a Christian Nation are in reality worshippers of the Christian religion, not of a Universal God. A nation dominated by the religion of Islam, in which followers of other faiths have inferior advantages, is a nation that worships Islam and the Koran, not an Universal Allah, as is claimed.

Naturally, such one-religion, or preferred-religion, nations are in constant conflict with those around them. While their citizens may believe that they are victims, and merely defending themselves and their holy places, the reality is that their worship of tribal gods has already raised walls between them and their neighbors. By claiming God-chosen superiority they have downgraded others, provoked enmity.

Those who truly worship a Universal spirit see "humanness" before nationality, religion, race or culture. They exalt the living earth as more scared than profits, privilege and power, and they act to preserve living species and their habitats, the purity and healthfulness of Earth's air, water and soil. While they may not even believe in the existence of a personal God, theirs is the true worship of the Power of Process responsible for our planet home and our Human Family, or species. These are not guilty of taking God's name in vain.