I was driving back from getting my haircut today, and I noticed a large billboard by the side of the road. It was an advertisement for a local church. Now, why a church needs to advertise, I don’t know, and frankly don’t care, other than that such a phenomenon merely reinforces my conviction that religion is just another business. It provides employment for many people, from the bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church, all the way down to the janitor who sweeps up after Sunday services. But that’s not what struck me when I looked at the ad. It was the message.
There was a picture of a cute little girl and the statement Love God. Love People. Change the World. Down in the right hand corner was the URL for the website for the church, which I memorized, and now share with you. As you can see, it seems to be the slogan for this particular church. A catchy little phrase, meant to get passersby to associate a community of people with God. As an advertising technique, it’s not very original, but after 2000 years, it’s hard for Christianity to say something new, so I can’t fault them for that.
My thought, as I drove by, was – Why do I have to love God? Why can’t we just eliminate the first suggestion, and go with the next two. Why can’t we simply love people and thereby change the world? What does loving God add to the equation, that would prevent the final outcome without him? I wracked my brains for…oh about 30 seconds, and couldn’t come up with anything.
It seems to me that people are perfectly capable of loving each other, of treating fellow humans with respect and dignity, of, in effect, following the Golden Rule, without any necessity for loving god, and with the same results as if they did. All we have to do, then, is Love People and we’ll change the world. Seems sort of self-evident, doesn’t it?
In fact, if we get sidetracked on this “Love God” thing, we might get distracted, and forget to love people, and then where would the anticipated result be? For instance, what if we join this church and find that in the process of loving god, we’re supposed to hate people who provide abortions, or get abortions, or believe that others should be free to choose to get abortions? Or what if they teach that homosexuality is a no-no? Isn’t that the antithesis of loving people? Should loving people, fellow humans who are just like us in every regard, be predicated on whether they too love god? And if I find that in joining this church, I have to hate not love abortionists and homosexuals, doesn’t that remove the “love people” part of the equation? So then I’m left to simply Love God. Change the World. But, I could do that at home, couldn’t I? Why would I need to join this church? I’d save a lot of money not having to tithe, and my Sundays would be free.
As I said, it only took me 30 seconds to figure that all out. I don’t know if this particular church would be as hypocritical as I surmise, but there are a lot of churches out there that would. The bottom line is that god is superfluous to any human activity. You don’t need him to be a good person, you don’t need him to love your fellow man, you don’t need him to tell you what is right and wrong. You can do all of that all by yourself, with the brain that god evolution gave you.
And you can still change the world.