There is a bill board in Denver Colorado that is gaining a lot of attention these days which says “Imagine no religion”. Let’s think about it.
A majority of the people do not wear a neon sign on their sleeves or forehead announcing their faith. Whether you are at work, grocery store, commuting in the bus or in the public square, it is certainly difficult to identify one’s faith in the United States.
There are exceptions where you can easily identify a few; like the Jewish men wearing the yarmulke or the black suit with a big black hat and long beards, a few Muslim men wear a similar beard or a cap, the Hare Krishna’s are easy to spot, the Sikhs are instantly recognized for their turban and the beard. If you watch the history channel you may find it interesting that the ancient Jewish Rabbis wore exactly same head dress as Osama Bin Laden does and the Zoroastrian priests wear the very same turban as some Muslim priests do, even today.
Among women, Muslim and Hindu women stand out with their Burqas and bindis, both are cultural rather than religious. However, many Muslim women also wear the bindi messing one up who is gauging people’s faith. On the way to their place of worship; Some Christian women, Sikh women and Muslim women wear scarf like head covering, they can pass for any faith. If you are a new Desi to town, and if you come to my house or office, you will spend a lot of time trying to figure out my religion.
Although it appears that religion is ubiquitous, in reality it is not. Only a small percentage of people are recognized because of their culture. If every one wore like the main stream community, every one had the same accent, and same skin color, then it would be impossible to identify one’s faith.
Paradoxically, I cannot imagine the world without religion; it has become a part of our psyche and is embedded into our society; one religion or the other. Of course, there are many who do not believe in ritual aspect of religion, but silently subscribe to the essence of it.
To most people, the proselytizing aspect of religion is repulsive as it goes against the instinct of freedom that monitors our actions and reaction, but they silently go along with it as their focus is live and let live and not getting bogged down with circular logic.
To be religious is to be a peacemaker, one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. Each being feels at home and comfortable when lived in peace and harmony with the creation; life and mater. Indeed, that is the purpose of religion, all religions.
In affairs of the world, religion appears to be a source of the problem; it certainly is not. You can always trace the wars, genocides, oppression and other atrocities to evil insecure stupid men. Please remember, the purpose of religion was to fix the evils of humankind and it continues to do so while some men still don’t get it.
Thank God, the world is a better place today because of the Religion and spirituality, without which there would be chaos. Every Religion is on the same side, that of goodness for humankind. Finding the truth is one’s own responsibility. Truth brings relief, salvation, Mukti, Moksha, Nijaat or Nirvana.
If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, then faith is in the heart of the believer. Let every one find peace his/her own way – Mike Ghouse
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. He is the founder of the World Muslim Congress, a group committed to building bridges and nurturing a world of co-existence. He also heads the foundation for pluralism, an organization committed to studying religious pluralism and pluralistic governance. His personal website is http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and his writings are on the above websites as well as several of the ancillary Blogs listed on the sites.
The right to practice religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The ACLU works to ensure that this essential freedom is protected by keeping the government out of religion.