Accomplices of crimes come in many different forms. They can be working right alongside other criminals and “getting their hands dirty”. They can drive the getaway car for people looking to make a quick escape. They can sit behind the scenes, working at the keyboard of a computer. Or, they can simply make excuses for those doing all the work. Letting someone say or do things that are either ridiculous or just plain wrong and then making excuses for them is equally unacceptable and makes you just as culpable.
Religions make ridiculous, unsubstantiated claims and do awful things in the name of their gods. Christianity, specifically, makes some bold claims that seem absurd to most people who are not part of that belief system. Claims such as Jesus dying and being raised again 3 days later. Claims such as seas being parted and people walking across on dry land. Then there are claims of answered prayer and an afterlife in paradise. There are so many claims in the Bible that are quite absurd and quite unverifiable. None of these claims can be demonstrated to be true, yet they are taught as fact in churches around the world. The churches are not held responsible for such claims being peddled as truth. Instead, they are verified by the people who attend. They are not verified by evidence, but rather by faith.
When I was a Christian, I did my share of helping the church perpetuate its mistruths. I not only agreed with what the church had to say, but I would do research above and beyond the studying of the Bible in order to keep and spread the faith. I would do whatever it took to take a claim made by “science” and somehow disprove it by using the Bible. When the topic of evolution would come up, I would do my best to discredit it. If there were remnants of early humans found, I would try to find any studies that claimed that they were anything but “cavemen.” If there were fossils of dinosaurs found (and there have been billions of bones and thousands of complete skeletons found) I would do my best to convince myself and others that dinosaurs were found in the Bible and made it onto the Ark with Noah. The Bible doesn’t actually mention dinosaurs, but it does mention a “behemoth” in Job 40 so that had to be a dinosaur, right?
Basically, if the evidence around me contradicted the Bible, I would do whatever I could to make it fit in there or dismiss it altogether as being false. If there was unanswered prayer after unanswered prayer, then I bought into (and spread to others) the idea that there must be some sin blocking us from experiencing God. It was our sinful nature that prevented us from having prayers answered. It couldn’t be that the stories in the Bible were untrue. Too bad that unanswered prayer being the result of sin isn’t found in the Bible. Yes, there are verses that describe why God turns from us such as 2 Chronicles 7:14, Mark 11:25-26, James 4:3, Matthew 21:21-22 and 1 John 5:14-15. These verses speak of our prayers being asked in the incorrect manner (for the wrong reasons with the wrong motives), unbelief, unconfessed sin and even our unforgiveness of others. But what if you have rectified all these things? What if you have done everything according to God’s will as I did before I prayed? What is the reason for unanswered prayer then? Well, there must be some sin you have committed that maybe you are unaware of doing or are unaware of it being a sin. In other words, it’s your fault, not God’s fault. The problem with that theory is that it makes everyone unworthy, unrepentant sinners as there has been no answered prayers…ever. At least none verifiable or remotely demonstrable.
I used the Bible as a way to prove itself to be true. I would quote from its pages in order to provide clarity and context for other pages. I would ignore cries for evidence and would instead offer up empty words from various verses in order to justify my faith. I would take those words and create a weapon, using it to attack anyone who had a differing opinion. When the church had extreme views about homosexuality, treatment of women or slavery, I would make excuses for all of that as well. There was always a completely reasonable explanation for all things in “God’s word.” It was either “because it was written in a different time” or “because of sin’s influence.” It is clear now that it was because of what the ruling men of the time felt was okay, but as a Christian, I certainly couldn’t believe that.
I apologize for this unorganized jumble of ideas. I am using all of this to try to say one thing: I am sorry. My complacency and my cooperation with religion has only added to the problem and held us back as a people. I was spreading lies and discrimination because of my own desperate attempt to keep believing. I wasn’t a preacher. I wasn’t a missionary. I wasn’t a Christian speaker or a Christian volunteer. What I was, was an apologist. I wrote about things that were not believable outside of the Bible and gave them my approval. I homeschooled my oldest son and taught him to believe as well, even as I experienced doubt. I slapped Christian-themed vanity plates on my cars to go along with the Jesus fish stickers. I advertised to the world that Jesus was Lord. I added to the lies spread by religion and felt good about doing it.
If you spread misinformation knowingly, you are just as guilty as being the ones who created the lies. If you have doubts, but claim it’s all true, you are guilty of being dishonest. Just because you are not leading a church, does not mean you aren’t leading people astray. Somebody is always watching and listening. No, not God. The people all around us take notice, especially the children. There is always a way to make things right, however. You can own up to your mistakes and spread truth instead of lies. You can support people’s right to think for themselves instead of calling that evil. You can treat people with respect regardless of their beliefs. Why? Because it is the right thing to do, not because a character in a book told you to. Stop aiding and abetting religion by making excuses for it and being part of a millennia-old crime spree.