What is a “true” religion?

It is no secret that as a non-theist I personally reject ALL God centered religions. That stems from my desire to avoid all double standards in my life; if I can no longer accept Baha’u’llah as a Messenger of God because his writings and character were flawed, by what standard can I accept any previous Messenger, such as Moses, Jesus, or Muhammad? Didn’t they ALL have failings and flaws from present day and secular standards? My desire for perfection in religion made me reject all of them…….but I must also recognize that my own religion, Unitarian Universalism, is also less than perfect. The reason is simple: ALL religions are run by humans, and humans are not perfect.

Once I gave up on seeking perfection in religion, I tried a different approach, judging every religion according to its own internal standard, as defined by the recorded teachings of the Messengers of God themselves. I also invented a concept I call “Spiritual Orientation” to both explain and justify the diversity of religions among the peoples in communities. And when I did these things, I came to some amazing conclusions.

My critical analysis of Judaism made me realize that:

  1. Zionism is the ultimate expression of a once displaced people seeking to oppress and displace another people in turn. Note: Two wrongs do not make a right.
  2. Judaism is supposed to be based on the laws of the Torah as revealed by Moses……but NO Jews follow those laws today. If they did, there would be animal sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem now or at altars elsewhere, and Jews don’t do that anymore.
  3. So instead, one can be a casual observer of Jewish teachings and rituals (minus the animal cruelty) as an expression of one’s ethnic heritage and nothing more. There are no “true” Jews.

What about Christianity?

  1. Christians need to stop claiming the Jewish Scriptures (which they insultingly call the “Old Testament”) for themselves……that’s the worst example of cultural appropriation I can think of (the Nazis stealing the swastika, a Hindu symbol, was the second worst example).
  2. Neither the Roman Catholic Church, nor any other religious body that claims to be Christian, really stems from the original Christian community of the days of the Roman Empire. They have ALL evolved and deviated from that original cult.
  3. Jesus will NEVER physically return to Earth. The prophecies about that matter must have referred to the triumph of Christianity over the once pagan dominated Roman Empire itself……but then the Christians took on the trappings of Roman rule for themselves, making them worldly and corrupt. Efforts to reform the faith have only made more splits in it. There are no “true” Christians.

What about Islam?

  1. I really don’t understand how it can consider itself a “world religion”. It looks to me like an effort to rebrand Judaism into an Arab centered faith instead of a Hebrew centered one. Why would non-Arabs become Muslim and take on a foreign culture? [Note: In the comments section below a Muslim finally answered this objection to my satisfaction, so any future critiques of Islam I write won’t slam Islam as an “Arabic religion”.]
  2. Muhammad’s claim to be the “Seal of the Prophets” would indicate to me that either he expected the world to come to an end a few centuries after his time, or that eventually most of humanity would not need God centered religions anymore. Thus people would still believe in God but they would have outgrown the need to worship Him, just as children eventually no longer need their parents to take care of them once becoming adults. But Islam does not teach that! If it did, I’d proclaim it the one true religion!

And then we come to the Baha’i Faith.

  1. It would have made FAR more sense for Baha’is to explicitly DENY Muhammad as a Prophet at all (since Baha’is were going to be persecuted by Muslims anyway).
  2. The gradual corruption of the Faith and hyper dogmatism we see now in it reminds me of the George Orwell novel “Animal Farm” as well as the song by the Who “Won’t be Fooled Again”.
  3. The only true Baha’is in my mind (and thus the only true religious people at all) are the Unitarian Bahais who followed Mirza Muhammad Ali in opposition to the teachings of Abdu’l-Baha who contradicted those of Baha’u’llah. Unitarian Universalists do not count because the Unitarian Universalist Association is itself a multifaith body that welcomes followers of various religions; it has never been “Christian” from the time it formed in 1961.

Those are my current thoughts about religion.

6 thoughts on “What is a “true” religion?

  1. Islam is by no means an Arab-centred faith, as you have claimed. It is a universal religion; in fact, the first chapter of the Quran begins with “Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds”, not the ‘Lord of the Arabs’. As far as I know, nowhere in the Quran does God address ‘Arabs’; it’s always ‘O ye who have faith’ (when the verse is specifically addressed to Muslims) or ‘O mankind’ when it’s addressed to humanity in general. As for Muhammad being the ‘Seal of Prophets’, it simply means that (according to Muslim belief), there won’t be any prophets from God between him and the Hour. He never made any predictions as to when the Last Day will be; the knowledge of that is with God alone.

    • “Islam is by no means an Arab-centred faith”

      Then why was Muhammad and nearly all of his early followers Arabs? Why was the Quran only revealed in Arabic, with no provisions in Muhammad’s time for it to exist in other languages? Why are the two holiest cities in Islam Mecca and Medina (Jerusalem is no 3 and it is also sacred to Jews and Christians)?

      Certainly, Allah is the Lord of the Worlds, but Islam is an ARABIC religion. If Muhammad had intended differently, why have all Muslims face Mecca in prayer and make a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina? If I were a Chinese, European, American, or black African person, I’d be insulted by the implication that Arabs and their cities and culture are superior to my own. Either make Islam for Arabs only or stop making Mecca the center of Islamic practices.

      I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and while my religion’s headquarters is in Boston, we do not face that city in prayer, there is no requirement for UUs to make pilgrimage there and we don’t claim to be limited in terms of languages we may use, though most of us (at present) do speak English. UUism is FAR more suited to become a world religion than Islam.

      • I don’t think your argument holds. Jesus, pbuh, was a Palestinian Jew; and yet, Christianity is a universal religion, because one does not have to be Palestinian or Jewish to be a Christian. Likewise, Prophet Muhammad pbuh and most of his companions were Arabs, but one doesn’t have to be an Arab to be a Muslim; and being an Arab doesn’t make one a better (or worse) Muslim. The Prophet famously said, ‘There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab; nor for a non-Arab over an Arab.’

        Several key figures of Islam throughout history (scholars, mystics, etc.) have been non-Arab. In today’s world also, most Muslims are not Arabs.

        also, Islam never destroyed local cultures; which is why, a traditional Persian mosque, let’s say, doesn’t look like a Moroccan mosque. The way Malay Muslims dress is not the same as the way a Sudanese Muslim dresses, and so on; and yet they are all authentically Muslim.

        Mecca is a holy city in Islam, mainly because the House of God built by Abraham happens to be there (note that Arabs as a distinct people didn’t exist back then; as Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son). Jerusalem is also a holy city in Islam; and for many years, the Prophet and his companions used to pray facing Jerusalem. The Quran says, ‘East and West belong to God; wherever you turn, there is the face of God’ (2:115). In other words, we pray towards Mecca, because God instructed us to, and because this shows the unity of Muslims; – but we realise that God is not confined to any particular direction.

        Back to the main point: if you enter an average mosque in the US or UK, you’ll see blacks, whites, Arabs, Afghans, Turks, Asians, Indians, etc. all praying side by side. This wouldn’t have been possible if Islam were an Arab-centred faith.

        • Very well, I accept your argument.

          I was originally a Christian and was aware from the start of Christinaity’s Asian/Middle Eastern origins, that its earliest followers were Jews, and that the Christian Scriptures were mostly written in Greek, even though I was never Jewish, spoke and read English, and always have lived in America, but didn’t consider Christianity a foreign religion because it is a basic part of American culture.

          I apologize for my obviously unfair bias.

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