The religious nuts are ruining our society. Yep, sure as shootin, these weirdo's are hell bent on taking away our freedoms and forcing us to live in a totalitarian police state. Most members of the main stream press, the entertainment industry, college faculties, and the Democratic Party would wholeheartedly agree with the previous statement. But, of course, they would identify the religious nuts in question as conservative Christians. Actually, they would identify them as "intolerant, vast-right-wing-conspirative, hate-filled, homophobic, anti-choice, Bible thumping Nazis." But what's a little hysterical rhetoric among friends?
I, too, agree that religious nuts are ruining our culture. But the true religious nuts today are not the usual suspects. There is another group of people far greater in number than all fundamentalists, evangelicals, and conservative Catholics combined – whose religious behavior is truly nutty. You see there are three types of people in the world: (1) those who believe God is real and live their lives accordingly; (2) those who believe God is a myth and live their lives on the basis of this view; and (3) those who believe God is real but live their lives as if He can be completely ignored.
The people in the first group (usually described by the parenthetical quotation mentioned earlier) behave very logically. If God is real, if each human being possesses an eternal soul which will dwell for all time in either heaven or hell, and if our eternal destination is based on how we relate to God, then trying to make religious faith the most important aspect of life is not nutty; it's smart. You may disagree with the original premise – that God is real and that He is personal and that He cares – but you can't disagree with the behavior that results from that premise.
The people in the second group (generally referred to as atheists, humanists, agnostics, etc.) also behave very logically. They believe the concept of "God" is superstitious nonsense invented by our ignorant pre scientific ancestors. Since they are certain that God is a myth, modern society is foolish to remain shackled to ancient religious customs and values. If there is no God, then, as the humanists proclaim, "Man is the measure of all things." The wisdom of educated, intelligent, rational mankind should determine what is right and wrong, not some dusty old documents attributed to a non-existent deity. Although I passionately disagree with the initial premise of people in the second group, I can relate to the way they think (especially being one for so many years), and I would never describe their behavior as nutty. Wrong, yes. Nutty, no, given their philosophical starting point.
The people in the third group, however, are the true religious nuts. These are the folks who claim that God is real, that people possess an eternal soul, and that heaven and hell are real, but live their day to day lives as if God can be ignored. Just imagine if a person comes home from work one evening and finds a 600-pound lion prowling around the living room roaring at the top of its lungs. Now imagine that this person acts as if the lion is nothing more than a 6-pound house cat sleeping on the couch. He just goes about his usual routine, nonchalantly calling toward the kitchen, "Hi, honey, I'm home. Boy, traffic was a mess. What's for dinner?"
We would not hesitate to describe this mans behavior as nutty and downright dangerous. Why is it any different with God? If the Bible is true (as most people in the third group acknowledge), then God is infinitely more powerful and awesome than a lion. To nonchalantly waltz through life as if God were no more majestic and mighty than a house cat is irrational. This is exactly where we are in modern America. The Barna Research Group recently found that 66 percent of American adults say they have made "a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today." Also, 60 percent of American adults "maintain that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings."
If that's the case, however, why are professing Christians statistically indistinguishable from non-believers when it comes to behaviors such as divorce, abortion, adultery, cheating on their taxes, and swiping pencils from the company supply room? This is nutty behavior. These people are the true religious nuts. They claim God is real and the Bible is true, but then completely ignore it. They act like God's clear commands about morality are optional, as if we have been granted the final authority on whether or not we need to obey. Truly nutty. History shows that no civilization has ever survived without morality, and morality has never been possible without firmly held (and practiced) religious beliefs. This is why the religious nuts threaten our freedoms. When a society ceases to be moral, the government must use heavy-handed tactics to control the chaos. The religious nuts may not consciously seek to ruin society and force us all to live in a totalitarian police state, but that's where we're heading. If we don't wake up and notice that the Lion of Judah – in all of His majesty glory and power – is prowling our living rooms, then our fate is inevitable.
Copyright © 2000 The Catholic Transcript, Hartford, Connecticut
Bill Dunn is a writer who lives in Torrington, Connecticut