Recently, I read a social media post about the Mormon faith, calling it a cult. Previously I had read a similar comment about other Christian denominations. Reading comments on any post about religion or LDS in particular, results in a barrage of negative comments about “stupid people believing in fairy tales”, regardless which faith they are connected to. Granted, in many ways, the whole concept of social media should be more aptly termed “unsocial media” because far from being an open exchange of ideas for the betterment of mankind, it usually devolves into a cesspool of factions each ramming home their opinion. This is true for political as well as lifestyle issues that dominate these forums. Should that be a point of concern? To offer no response would be to silently accept anything written as factual. To respond opens the door to a terrible wave of attacks from all sides.
It’s like arguing politics. No one budges, everyone is right, regardless of “proof”, and it is open season for bashing because it is Facebook or Huff Post or any unsocial media platform giving a voice to everyone, regardless of their (lack of) qualifications. The current state of American politics is mirrored by social media. No one cares about points, only their party of choice, like a football team blindly supporting the multi-million dollar franchise.
Religion serves individuals who wish to feel a connection to something larger than themselves. Churches help these individuals cluster and find like minded friends. No argument wins because at the end of the day you will find out the truth one way or another, at which point the argument is a moot point. If one religion is right, chances are you can adapt later. If atheists are right, no one will care because no one will know anything after death. And so trying to determine that now is a waste of time and only promotes negative energy. Be happy that some people have found something that works for them. If it does not work for you, so what? But labeling the LDS faith, or other denominations as a cult is like labeling all Catholics pedophiles. It is inflammatory and inaccurate. There is already plenty of hate in the world. Why make more?
At the end of the day you will find out the truth one way or another
The interesting thing about this topic, for me, is that America, touting itself as a melting pot and comprising a diverse racial mix, including a diverse range of beliefs, places our intolerance and bias so firmly in the public eye that we look like hypocrites. If you have faith in God, you also believe that you adhere to the tenets of love thy neighbor. And yet the first thing people do is attack an opposing religion. Sounds messed up. 83 percent of Americans, according to an ABC News Poll, identify themselves as Christians. Does this mean that unsocial media bashers comprise the 17 percent who are not? Is that what it has come to?
In their Encyclopedia of Wars, authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod attempt a comprehensive listing of wars in history. They document 1763 wars overall, of which 123 (7%) have been identified and listed as primarily religiously motivated. The Encyclopedia of War, edited by Gordon Martel, using the criteria that the armed conflict must involve some overt religious action, concludes that 6% of the wars listed in their encyclopedia can be labelled religious wars. [citation: Wikipedia:] These 1763 wars have occurred over the last 2015 years alone, involving disputes between Catholics and Protestants, Islam and Christianity, and Sunni, Shiite and Christianity. We appear to be a warring species, ready to battle for a myriad of causes. We have been at war over 87 percent of the time. In that light social media truly does become unsocial media. How does that translate to those who believe in God?
The word cult should not apply to any standardized faith. It does apply to small groups of people who excommunicate themselves from society in order to focus on exclusionary beliefs. Like Jim Jones, what was the standard faith element? That was a cult. Or the group that killed themselves to chase Halley’s Comet…
The Mormons, the many branches of standardized Christianity, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists, all offer something to their followers, given the statistics, and if that appeals to you and you can live those teachings purely then you will be a better person since all of them promote peace and harmony as a way to touch the Creator. If none of these faiths appeal to you, and you reject religion, you can still be an awesome person, guided instead by a set of moral values without a religious undertone. A Pew Poll found that only 2.4 percent of Americans identify as Atheists, even though, of that group, 24 percent considered themselves somewhat spiritual.
The point of life and the point of faith is to become a better person with it than what you were before. And to do that you must do so in peace and without judgement. And that is the hardest trick of all, especially if you go onto social media forums to promote your beliefs. Remembering our proclivity for violence and yet our steadfast belief in a higher power, perhaps we should pray more and comment less.
What are your thoughts? Please be respectful.