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NO LAUGHING MATTER: Life without religion


Mac Fingall

NO LAUGHING MATTER: Life without religion

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Religion teaches us about God and the works of God. Religion is worldwide and occupies the minds of the majority of the inhabitants of this earth. Those who are followers of Christ are called Christians and there are several Christian denominations.

Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia refers to 33 000 plus total “Christian” denominations, but it defines the word “denomination” as an organised Christian group within a specific country. These statistics covered 238 countries and 3.4 million worship centres or churches. I did read somewhere else that the total Christian denominations could be as many as 41 000.

The encyclopedia further breaks down the 33 000 thusly: Independents (about 22 000); Protestants (about 9 000); “Marginals” (about 1 600); Orthodox (781); Roman Catholics (242); Anglicans (168).

According to Wikipedia, the Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination with more than 1.2 billion members and the Protestant denomination accounts for roughly 40 per cent of Christians worldwide.

You would notice that the Catholic Church, which is purported to have 1.2 billion members, only accounts for 242 of the 33 000 denominations while the Independents total about 22 000.

We all see these Independents on television and we observe their massive buildings with bulging crowds. So, you can deduce that the majority of the world is Christian-minded. In fact, Wikipedia states that the atheists are 2.01 per cent and the non-believers are 16 per cent of the world’s population. This tells you that 82 per cent of the world is religiously connected.

So with this overwhelming majority of supposed positive influence of love, peace, harmony, brotherly love, honesty, care, fellowship, understanding, forgiveness, and all the other human acts of humane behaviour, why is the world in this sad state of war, hatred, distrust, abuse, violence, and all the other sinister and diabolical acts?

Religion is a stabilising factor. It teaches that there is a God. It teaches the fear of God. It teaches the wages of sin. It teaches about heaven and hell. It teaches peace of mind.

I shudder to think that with so many of the world’s population being taught all these positive things and yet there is constant war and violence, what if we did not have religion? What if we did not have God? What if we did not have this stabilisor?

Wars

 The irony that kills me is the fact that several of the wars that the world has experienced had religious implications. The dictionary suggests that “war” is an antonym for “peace”. Yet we seem to fight wars in search of peace. Maybe I spelt it incorrectly.

Can you imagine how things would be if we were taught differently or not taught at all? Is that not a scary thought? Sins might not be thought of as sins. Right could be wrong and wrong could be right. Morals would be left to the individual for interpretation.

People would never have heard the commandments and therefore might not hesitate to steal or kill. Folks would not have learnt about the dangers of greed and would kill or injure others more readily without fear of judgment. Envy and jealousy would have free rein. Hatred would run amuck.

Sunday would not present the calming experience that it so vitally does today, being a tranquilising buffer between the week of the past and the week to come – a day of reflection and also of projection.

Homosexuality and same-sex marriages would “run-de-route”. Drugs and alcohol would double and triple their current activity. Education could suffer.

Wars and disputes would never end for there would be no “forgiveness”. No one would be willing to take “last hit”. Children would be taken advantage of and thereby scarred for life. That child would more than likely grow into a “messed-up” adult.

Praedial larceny would be everyday business. Rape and robbery would probably be the norm – a casual experience. People would be inclined to do as they like. There might be no control.

But then there would have to be control for chaos would serve no purpose – surely not for an educated people. I could see a dictatorship resulting. Dictatorships are designed to control and then freedom erodes. This seems like a catch-22.

This imagination has painted the world with a dark brush and Barbados happens to be in the world so described. Therefore it should be concluded that whatever consequences are implied would affect this country. Oh my God!

But, thank God that was just my imagination running away with me. Reality says otherwise. We do have religion. And God. And Christianity. And societal morals. And we do spell peace correctly.

• Mac Fingall is an entertainer and retired secondary schoolteacher.

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