“We are swimming in Christianity” is a statement I've recently heard. I disagree. Are we, the Western society, really swimming in Christianity?
I was born in Germany, baptized and raised a Roman Catholic. But if that's all that is needed to count, sure, we are swimming in Christianity, on paper. From shortly before and well after my confirmation, my teachers in religious education, religious mentors and priests conveyed the core message in any faith that calls itself a Christian one should be the principle of loving one's neighbour. What does it mean? Let's start with forgiving people seek forgiveness, altruistic action, not excluding people because of their gender, their looks, their race, their religion, or their sexuality and meeting them with respect. This also includes not harassing people for being or thinking different. Based on that principle, you can derive more… but that's not the core message.
Looking at the Western world, I see rampant cooperate greed, bullying, sexism, transmisia, homomisia, xenomisia, racism, antisemitism, etc. Things I don't associate with the principle of loving one's neighbour. Economic growth over human rights. Protecting economy over protecting lives. Rituals and empty words over actions.
Especially bullying should not exist in any community claiming to Christian, our society should be above that. Instead, society turns a blind eye towards bullying and even actively joins in the bullying, in racism, and other discrimination. Some might argue, those people are heathens, belonging to other non-Christian religions, or not real Christians. If they aren't Christians, we are not swimming in Christianity.
You might have noticed people claiming they are “at least a million times as humble as thou art!” Seems like, stroking one's ego isn't a phenomenon that started with the internet. I don't care how much you think how holy you think you are, or what illness you believe is a punishment from God. What matters is what you say and how you act. And if you are truly Christian, put benevolence first, even to those you believe are sinners.
The current trend — I have seen exceptions that give me hope — is moving away from that: there is an increase in voices and actions to limit the return of former criminals to society. Are we swimming in Christianity? I don't think so. I would even argue, the Western society has actually never fully embraced Christianity. There have been ups and downs, and this another down phase. In 2022, it's falling even more: we see a rise of fundamental “Christians” justifying transmisia, homomisia, xenomisia, etc. by claiming people that associate or even protect those are “groomers”. While transmisia and homomisia is nothing new with fundamentalists, even xenomisia seems to be uncontested among those gatherings. The modern West should be beyond that, no matter what faith you believe in, if any!
I've seen countless times people claiming Science and Faith are mutually exclusive. I disagree. To me, trusting in God doesn't mean I reject science.
God works in unseen ways, you cannot expect God to change the laws of nature. Sometimes, he works through the actions of people around you. If you don't use all of what humanity has achieved to improve and save lives, and expect God to magically fix it, you're rejecting his help. That is why I got vaccinated and wear a face mask, even though I have trouble breathing through it.
Sure, there could have been side effects to the shot, potentially deadly ones too. But those could be mitigated, and my doctor told me what signs I could take to the hospital immediately. While I got the usual fever and aches, my phone died, and friends personally came over to check on me. To this day, just this one visit made me feel blessed.
I didn't get complications, but I could have gotten them. In the worst case, I could have overlooked the signs of coming complications. I could have fainted alone in my flat and have nobody notice it. My friends could have all not remember me getting a shot that very weekend and not paid me a visit. But none of that happened. Did God actually do something? I don't need to know.
To me, acting irrational because I believe in God's protection, is testing God, not believing in him. Sometimes, he works through the actions of humans. You cannot expect God to change the laws of nature. If we want to limit the effects of climate change, we need to act. We were given the means to detect it before it's too late, we should act on it. While I have very controversial views on gene testing and gene manipulation, to me, inaction and just expecting God fix climate change for us is complacent and what I call not respecting creation at all.
There's people that say religion itself is evil, and as a Christian person, I cannot distance myself from those that I don't see as true Christians. Science should replace all religion in the world. I disagree. In the same way people misinterpreted religious dogmas, science is commonly misinterpreted or even wilfully altered to suit one's perception. As scientists, such people shouldn't be trusted, and they are commonly not seen as part of the scientific community. Why shouldn't it be different for faiths, that are commonly lumped together as Christianity? Or even faiths in general? For science, the core question is “How much data didn't confirm your thesis?”. For Christianity, the core question is “How do I act according to the principle of loving one's neighbour?”. If you don't act according to those questions, you're removing yourself from that group.
Over the years, I've moved several times, and have seen multiple priests, that managed to engage young people with their faith. Sadly, they were all removed. The priests all claim it's for different reasons, but everyone knows if a priest doesn't stay for his full tenure, it's a transfer for disciplinary reasons. How dare I claim those priests lied?! Those people are holy people!! They lied to protect the peace in the community. They acted according to the principle of loving one's neighbour. Looking at who actually came to see the priests off, it's evident they were an eyesore to the old folks that value old language and meaningless rituals. You know language in the church is old when you have an easier time understanding it in a foreign language you have barely started learning. Even though, at least one of them tried to appease the older generation by making dedicated masses for young people at a time when the old people rarely attend, they still get transferred away.
In the end, since speaking your mind to the older generation is considered rude, the younger generation simply turn their back on the church. All they see is old people ruining it, clinging to their old, even worldly values and meaningless rituals instead of actions and engaging with the faith in the current world. In the end, all that's left are fundamentalists that stopped engaging with their religion.
Some say, I should formally leave the Church to display my dissatisfaction with its current state. But I disagree, all it does is making this conflict even worse. At least here in Germany, part of that Church tax goes into childcare institutions, I don't have children, but taking away from children isn't something I want to do. But maybe that's just an excuse for me to not act.
I hope, this post will reach people that are currently engaging with their faith. Maybe they will agree with me, or at least take this into account when they think about what their faith really means to them. But hey, there are people that say I'm possessed by evil, so what do I know?
It doesn't matter if I've seen or heard it directly or indirectly, those words still hurt. I have to admit, I'm too weak to unilaterally say I forgive. I am by no means a saint, but I believe being a true Christian means to continuously work on myself and the world. Not excluding people because of their gender, their looks, their race, their religion, or their sexuality and meeting them with respect — I still catch myself thinking afoul of these, especially when I'm met with disrespect. Will I ever be able to forgive? I don't know, I will eventually be able to say or write those words, time heals. But I don't know if I will ever truly feel that way, all I can do is wish I will eventually be able to. Maybe that evil born from that pain will forever haunt me.
Maybe they were right, and I am possessed by evil: I've hesitated on writing this post for quite a while. I have felt the need to write something like this a long time ago, it's been years, but I was paralyzed with fear of how people would react to this post — I am by no means a saint, fear, uncertainty and doubt are just human nature. But some things happened privately, and I had much time to think about me, my family, my environment, and the state of the world. They say inaction is the greatest evil.
That said, respecting other people religion doesn't mean, I have to accept it when people start, directly or indirectly, harassing, or even worse, harming other people because of their faith. “But that's against freedom of religion!” they say. Freedom of religion should have its limits. If your religion makes you harm, harass or discriminate others, you shouldn't be allowed to practice that religion. Or the lack of one. It doesn't matter where you think your religion originated from. It doesn't matter if you think you're doing God's work. Do not harm, harass or discriminate other people because of your faith, especially if you claim you're from a Christian religion!
Harming, harassing or discriminating other people? Jesus ain't say that! If you still insist on harming, harassing and/or discriminating other people, that is not God's work!
With all said, when I look at the current state of the Western society that's supposedly to be so Christian, I can't help but feel sad. This Christian society could be so much better if those that claim to be Christian actually act like ones.