Personal Religious History Religion Today Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

The type of atrocity that a religious ideal could cause, I think, became cemented forever for me during the events of September 11, 2001.

Those men operated not only from a sense of devotion to their country, a hatred for the United States, but also from a religious fervor that encouraged them to take their own lives and the lives of thousands of others. This brought home to me that religion, in whatever form, could be not only a comfort, but also a greatly destructive force.

Even if I think of my own religion, Christianity, I am forced to admit the reality of the situation; it has not always been the gentle, caring lifestyle that's so often promoted today. In fact, even today, many Christians use their religious zeal to hurt and destroy. If I think of the past, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Salem Witch trials come immediately to mind when I think of how religion can inspire pain rather than joy.

Even among themselves Christians in the past have disagreed so strongly that they resorted to torture and murder. One thinks of the many "heretics" that were burned or otherwise maimed and murdered for daring to speak what they believe. Today, churches continue to fight amongst each other while forgetting the central message that Christ tried to bring us. Surely love and forgiveness should be at the heart of our world if we hope to survive in anything like the long-term. Instead, we pass laws that are based on ancient belief systems that we hardly even understand anymore.

Although my parents raised me to appreciate the beauty of Christianity, the way the 9/11 perpetrators used the good name of Islam to kill thousands brought home to me how religion can be used to very ungodly ends. In my own life, I feel that I need to be very careful how I interact with others. We can't all be the same or believe the same. But when it comes to religion, I feel what we can do is to remember that we are all here for a short time.

Each of us must work on his or her own redemption; whatever form this may take. The 9/11 events and everything I experienced in the Navy showed me the worst that people can do to each other in the name of religion, in the name of ideology, and simply in the name of power or politics. This creates a very negative idea around religion for me. I do feel, however, that I now have a much more realistic view of the situation than had previously been the case.

Religion can be a beautiful, fulfilling way of life. When it is, however, used to hurt, maim and kill for a cause that serves only a certain aspect or sector of humanity, there really is no more use for it in today's world. I feel that, rather than using religion to divide us, we should recognize that it is a manifestation of our humanity. As such, we can use it for endless good, as so many people, churches, and other institutions do. Only…

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