What’s with the new anti-“religion” sentiment?

Maybe you’ve noticed it yourself. There has appeared—in conversations and statements on the web—an oddly pejorative treatment of the words “religious” or “religion.”

I’ve started collecting them and I’ll share my first four (first that I’ve saved) here:

SSloveJesusHateReligionPicFrom a person’s tagline on Twitter:

Christian, husband, father, friend, author, pastor, indulging Starbucks, eluding religion… selling out, daily, to Jesus.”

And another:

A non-religious Jesus follower, a husband, a father, a pastor, a horseman, a cattleman, and an advocate for agriculture.”

This one’s a tweet, not a tagline:

When you let Jesus truly come in, religion goes out the window…”

Same for this one:

Love people! [all people] and love God! Not religious, free!”

Plus there was this [following] sentiment, found in the title of a painting I saw while I was editing American Cowboy. The painting was a scene of a cowboy, horseback, looking out upon a vast panoramic canyonland. The title was:

I don’t go to church. This is my church.

I’m at a loss to understand how the idea of religion, or even “religion,” interferes with or subverts or diminishes a faith such as Christianity. And I do assume that these individuals who are quoted are directing their remarks at Christianity, not at Islam or the Hindu faith. I realize that that is an assumption, but I notice that the figure whom they contrast against “religion” is Jesus or God, and so Christianity would seem to be the “religion” in question.

So why is religion bad while God or Jesus or God’s handiwork remains good?

I can agree that there is much in organized Christianity—taking the field as a whole—that is less than ideal. But can we truly remove the “religion” from Christianity? Didn’t Jesus found the religion that bears His name? There’s more to following Christ than just the part that Christ has and the part that I have as His follower. There’s that little business about all the other people He loves. Sure, there’s a one-to-one relationship that I can have with Christ. But he also insists on something He calls a “body.” It’s a family—His family—and it is also His presence here on earth. He calls it the church, and it is the church to whom he is joined. That’s a relationship He treats as a marriage. His marriage is not to me, individually, nor to anyone else, individually. So I cannot help but wonder about the wisdom of treating “religion” as something bad and “Jesus” as purely good, apart from religion.

But I might be reading something into those (earlier) remarks that wasn’t there. I’m curious what others think. Care to comment on this? I’d like to get some feedback and then perhaps write further on this topic. Thanks.

Copyright 2014 Jesse Mullins


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