Some people might call me a good Catholic. I go to church most Sundays. I attended mostly Catholic schools. I pray the Rosary sometimes. I know the songs and the prayers.
On the other hand, some people might call me an absolutely crap Catholic. I believe in contraception, euthanasia, and abortion. I believe the Pope is fallible and the Eucharist is a symbol. I believe in premarital sex, homosexual marriage, and profanity. I believe the Bible is inspired by God but chock full of language that is mistranslated, misinterpreted, and just plain wrong. I believe that after death we all face God, and your thoughts and actions – not what name you called Him or what building you talked to Him in – determine whether that is salvation or damnation.
I think religion – organized faith – has a purpose. I’ll be the first to admit that, for me, it’s largely a sense of home and belonging. Obviously I don’t exactly check off every box on the Good Catholic list.
But I do think religion – more precisely, what some people do under cover of religion – has done terrible things. It’s the Westboro Baptist idiots, the Crusades, the IRA, al-Qaeda.
And that’s why I’m of two minds – three minds, actually – about Jefferson Bethke’s spoken-word piece “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus“. One one hand, it’s confrontational for the sake of being confrontational and that annoys me.
On the other hand, it brings up good points and it’s worth telling institutions what they’re doing wrong.
But on the other other hand, I don’t hate religion and I don’t think that he actually does either. That’s like hating pizza for having onions on it, or hating the genre of film because of the Twilight movies.Â You can’t hate the entire channel of goodness for making some awfulness possible. Well, you can, I suppose. But it’s stupid.
Is it possible to have religion without stupid? Nope. Because we’re human, and therefore, prone to stupid. But is it worth it anyway? I think so, yes.