By listening to our politicians – let alone following news media coverage – it is quite apparent that name-calling, bigotry, intolerance and hate reigns. A preponderance of citizens are greatly disturbed when politicians, friends, neighbors and co-workers make derogatory comments about minorities, immigrants and women’s rights and feel denying refugees due process and obstruction of justice is acceptable. It is apparent tens of thousands of Americans are putting their self-righteousness and moral superiority to judge others as if they were God.
Logically, it comes to no surprise America is changing its faith-based landscape in rapid-fire proportion. According to Pew Research Center’s most recent data, 65 percent of American adults describe themselves as Christians, down 12 percent over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated (i.e., atheist, agnostic and “nothing in particular”) now stands at 26 percent, up from 17 percent in 2009.
Research reveals due to evangelical far right-wing political party favoritism, narrow-minded organized religion, clergy abuse of their patrons and fundraising juggernaut centers of worship, one out of every four Americans have purposely abandoned religion and accepted no spiritual base.
Iowa’s religious diversity falls in line with America’s demographics: Christian (65 percent), Jewish (2 percent), Muslim (1 percent), Buddhist (1 percent), Hindu (1 percent), one of 4,000 other religions (4 percent) and 26 percent unaffiliated.
Many religious leaders recognize change is long overdue. As an example, Pope Francis signed a declaration, entitled "A document on human fraternity for world peace and living together," inviting “all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect.” In an interreligious meeting, the pontiff said that people of different religions must work together to build the future “or there will not be a future.”
The Holy Father declares that religious plurality is willed by God and God wills the diversity of color, sex, race and language. He further adds “the time has come when religions should more actively exert themselves, with courage and audacity, and without pretense to help the human family deepen the capacity for reconciliation, the vision of hope and the concrete paths of peace.”
It’s a sad commentary when self-identified religious devotees displace the values to love the stranger, be kind, caring and treat all people as children of God. The future of humanity and mutual respect is in peril.
Many religious leaders are supporting the transition from an inflexible, exclusive, arrogant doctrine to a more tolerant, modern and progressive spiritual perspective. Maybe the following universal prayer is one people should ponder if they want to change their mindset as religious leaders throughout the world recommend.
"Dawning of the Spiritual Sun"
by Dr. Sharron Stroud, Inner Faith Worldwide
Right now somewhere in the world
A Jew is saying his prayers,
A Hindu is chanting a mantra and a
Buddhist is kneeling at her sacred shrine.
Right now at this very moment someone is
Lighting a candle in a Cathedral,
Someone is making their haj toward Mecca,
For it is the will of Allah.
And someone else is lighting a fire in a jungle,
Repeating an ancient mystical drama.
Many, many pathways up the mountaintop
And the view is always the same from the summit!
In the Dawning of the Spiritual Sun
For a moment all faiths become as One.
The Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew . . .
Became as One and somehow knew
That Mystic Voice that calls to me
“O yonder, yonder person I am Thee!”
Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. His opinions do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa. Reach him at Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com.