Friday, February 23, 2024

Organized Religion and Secular Societies

Will organized religion die out eventually? If so, is that a good thing?

organized religion

In modern times, more and more people are speaking out against organized religion. A popular stance from the opponents is observed.

We are not against individual religion. We are against organized religion. Religion should be everyone’s private matter!”

Apparently, there is nothing too wrong with that statement. Many have hopped on to this trend. People who identify with and even practice certain religions are seen to be vehemently opposed to organized religions. Mankind, it appears has collectively come upon the decision that one religion practiced by a large number of people that influence their policies has caused too much evil in to the world. This has caused myths being spread about and violence against a minority that has a different lifestyle. Many such people have a very strong belief in science. Almost a religious belief. They believe that religions made people delusional and rely on abstract understandings of things and not actual proofs and evidence. A large data is available in history where people attributed the causes of illnesses to be evil spirits and did not understand natural phenomenon. People that tried to find out reasons behind such claims were shunned away or executed.

These scientific understandings that we have now make a good case for the religious indignance in the past. Not only that, many evidences are available for how people exploited the lower classes for monetary gains and tried to make them pay for their sins. It was the result of organized religion that a hierarchy was created. There were people who ruled the subjects in a spiritual sense. This gave them incomparable power and they were accountable to none. People considered it blasphemous to go against them.

Is Organized Religion Ending?

Claiming that organized religion would completely wipe out from the world is a bold statement to make. However, it is undeniable that religion is being replaced by different ideologies, philosophies and even boiled-down, sublime versions of the said religions. In a way, modernization has caused the religions to only be spectacles. People that identify with certain religions are now focusing more on appearing like they belong to it than actually practicing. This means that the religious views that are most debated on are the ones that have more to do with the apparent aspect of lifestyle. This in itself is what also serves as a talking point for people that oppose organized religions. For instance, how people should dress is something that is hugely debated on in terms of Islam. A lot of people who disagree with it claim that it is oppressive to women. This debate in itself sparks sentiments of either outrage or sympathy in people.

This also goes in to facilitate the organized religion vs. Liberalism debate. Many people claim that using religion as a part of legislature, policy or law-making process in itself can go against the ideology of secular states. For liberalism is a political ideology that puts huge emphasis on human rights that if some religious scriptures go against those rights, a conflict arises. An example of that was Hadiya case in India where a Hindu girl got married with a Muslim. Her father filed a case against the Muslim boy, saying he forced her to convert. Despite any evidence, she was sent back to her home under the Hindu law. It was not until many years later that the high court heard her appeal and decided to give her the autonomy to go with her husband.

Such examples raise questions against the religious aspect which is involved in legislature and how it might go against constitutional rights provided to people. All in all, the misuse of religious teachings has made a strong case against organized religions or religious majorities expending their power to make rules and policies.

However, a larger debate that counters the opposition is the question of where does the idea of fundamental rights and wrongs come in people’s lives? How are we to determine that? Could we really do that without the aid of religious teachings?

The Necessity of Organized Religion:

If we look far back with a kaleidoscope, we would see many fables that were being passed on. All religions have their stories, many of them date back in times that we do not even know and cannot determine the truth about. These stories are so old that many religions that have now gone extinct and no longer have any practicians still affect people’s understanding of life in certain affairs of life, it affects their culture, their interactions, the way they appear and their ideas about life after death and the purpose of life in itself. If we look at New Age Spirituality movement that has many members that are largely against religions or the organized practice of it, these people themselves have derived most of their spiritual understanding through religions of different kinds. Be it indigenous religions, Hinduism or Buddhism, spiritual people of the modern age could not have taken up this lifestyle without religions that were once practicing it in an organized fashion or still are.

New Age Spirituality is also an organized movement. They took their beliefs from different scriptures and now influence thousands of people and their lifestyles. Many such people would claim, ‘Oh I am not religious, I am spiritual!” However, it appears that they face the same issues that organized religions themselves face. Exploitation by the preachers. Spirituality’s popularity was not done so without people trying to capitalize off of their understanding of it and claims to teach people “how to meditate properly? How to heal past trauma through amethyst stone? How to levitate or have an out of body experience” Thousands of courses that are sold in large sums online where people having no clue whatsoever but wanting some direction in life click on and follow up.

It is true that in a way this is not comparable to organized religions and the evils that can be committed through their exploitative use. However, this highlights a core issue which arises when there are not any organized religions. People these days, specifically in secularized states, are grasping for straws when it comes to concepts such as the nature of life, death, morality etc. Now that they have been provided with the liberty to choose however they wish to live, they are also burdened with the responsibility to find what is the best way of living. And in a free market, you would be sold a thousand gods. You will find yourself stuck in the paradox of choices.

You would forever be conflicted between rights and wrongs and often find yourself finding no worth or joy in life. Truth remains, the world is not a perfect place no matter how hard we try to make it one. Hence, people in a collective level are more moved by the compensation provided in afterlife. That makes them more willing to understand virtue and do good than any other concept or philosophy in this world. Hence, in a way organized religion can serve to maintain order in the society and motivate people to abide by law.

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Category: Religion

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