In Matters of Religion, Is There a Right and a Wrong?

Right belief?

When I was growing up in the America of the 50s, I would have acknowledged, if asked, four primary religious groups in America: 1. The religion of my family: Protestant, and more specifically, Seventh Day Baptist. 2. Catholic. 3. Judaism. 4. Atheistic.  In the 80s, I recognized a large number of Latter-Day Saints in America, and even among my friends; in the 90s, I came to realize that there are also Buddhists in America; and in the 2000’s, following 9 – 11, I came to recognize a substantial community of Muslims in America.

I suspect that members of each religion would believe that it is true, else they would abandon that religion for an other which bore the Truth. And likely there would be a significant number of each such religions that believed their religion is true, exclusive of all others.

As I have stated before, I am a Christian: not a Christian fundamentalist, but a follower of Christ. Christianity has great meaning to me because that is my inheritance from which I grew and judge my growth. I see in Christianity what is likely a conversation that abounds in all other religions: not a question, but an assertion that our religion is true (that is a given); and secondly a question: is there any truth in any of the other religions or Christian denominations?

But then, what Is Truth?  Is it to be found only through religion?

What is religion? Is its significance to be found in a set of beliefs?  If so, beliefs about what? Are such beliefs grounded in human life and experience, or are they separate from such experience or above it?

My view of the truths of religion, any religion or denomination is heavily influenced by Eric Fromm: religion is anything that gives one a sense of orientation and an object of devotion. For him, as for myself, religion springs from human experience and guides life choices. Religion cannot be divorced from life experience without serious destructive consequences. Rather, our religion will inform us of what conduct is expected and right.


Right conduct?

Growing up, right conduct was taught me by my parents and by our denominational beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. In my mature years I have come to believe in a more simple guide to right conduct: does it bear good fruit? Does it care about the lives and circumstances of all others? Does it care about our environment here on earth?

As a Christian, I believe that right conduct is described in the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have others do unto you; in Jesus’ teaching in the “Sermon on the Mount; his teaching that right conduct bears good fruit; and his teaching, as described in the 25th chapter of Matthew: “inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, my brethren, you did it unto me.”  Such conduct is described not only in Christianity, but in each of the major religions, and even among agnostics and atheists.

We are truly one.