In many of my interviews and Q & A’s there is one particular question that seems to always arise. “What’s wrong with my beliefs if they make me a better person? First let me say that I totally understand why one would ask this. After all, aren’t most people trying to improve their lives? If our faith helps us grow into better human beings then why would anyone try and challenge the assumptions of our faith?
But before we proclaim victory for the faithful, I think it’s important to understand how we arrived psychologically in terms of our religious beliefs. To suggest that we are somehow made “better” because of our faith is the same mode of reasoning European enslavers used when they postulated that slavery and Christianity made Blacks more civilized (human) and was good for lowly Africans because it rescued them from savagery? The irony is that savage Europeans savagely forced a belief on Africans so they would be rescued from savagery! How did people better themselves hundreds of thousands of years before Christianity bullied its way onto the world scene? The bible and all of its trimmings are relatively new to humanity. Africans, Native Americans, Aborigines, Filipinos etc, were never in danger of being ethnically cleansed before Christianity reared its violent head.
Never forget that the stories and precepts of the bible were not only forced and beaten into the psyche of many conquered people but was also used to justify their enslavement and used as a reference manual which explained how to properly beat them. Since the bible condoned enslavement, Jesus, by default, was the collaborator of physical bodies being enslaved yet the liberator of souls being saved. It’s nearly impossible to juxtapose those two extremities? To make someone better is to increase one’s value. People are born with value and no other group’s theology will improve them.
By virtue of these facts alone, the much deeper issue is not how one’s belief makes them better but how a colonized and subjugated people ultimately wind up drawing inspiration from the very source of their abuse. Now that’s what we should be dealing with. (Illustration by Timm Chambliss).