"We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do
believe that. I think that religion stops people from thinking. I
think it justifies crazies. I think flying planes into a building
was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological
disorder. If you look at it logically, it's something that was
drilled into your head when you were a small child. It certainly was
drilled into mine at that age. And you really can't be
responsible when you are a kid for what adults put into your head."
Bill Mahre, February 15, 2005
sat up and listened this week as Bill Mahre put himself in the media
spotlight with his remark that “religion is a neurological
My initial knee-jerk reaction was to get angry with Mahre and
condemn his statement until a comment-ator brought me back to
reality with this; “we must distinguish between “religion” and
If you've studied world history, you
know that it was the socialist Karl Marx who said, “religion is the
opiate of the masses.”
John Lennon’s famous song, “Imagine” talks about “nothing to kill or
die for and no religion too.
Christians have long had problems with the likes of Marx, Lennon and
now Mahre – but perhaps we need to take a
closer look at what's really being said by non-religionists and ask
if there might be grains of truth in their
bushels of attack.
I’m not defending Bill Mahre’s position on God or his politics. I
certainly am not a follower of Karl Marx or
a proponent of Lennon’s philosophies, but there is something in
their statements that underscores
a truth that is emerging from the “fog of war” that exists between
spiritual, religious and secular segments of society. Notice the
differentiation between “spiritual” and “religious,” the distinction
the commentator quoted above noted.
don’t believe most non or anti-religion people really have as much a
war with God as they do with religion.
Years ago, I heard Dr. C.M. Ward – a
conservative Pentecostal Christian leader say “The tendency of
religion is to muddy.” I didn’t fully appreciate his words then.
Much later I really looked hard at what Jesus said
about religion: “...you have
made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”
I remember someone, back in college
days telling us “religion is man’s attempt to get up to God;
Christianity is God reaching down to man.” That’s why we’ve often
said to non-Christians “we’re not talking about religion,
we’re talking about relationship with Jesus. "Christianity is
not a religion," they would intone," it is a relationship with a
Person, Jesus Christ." But really, we, the collective "us" of
Christianity have twisted our faith into a religion as surely as
ancient Israel created for themselves a king just
like the other nations around them had.
The word “religion” has an interesting etymology: It comes from the
Latin religio, which means both “supernatural
constraint” and “religious practice,” perhaps from religare
to restrain. The root of the word also
gives us the word “rely” which means to be dependent.
Think about that for a moment: Religion restrains and causes
Restraint is defined as “a device that
movement.” Jesus said He had come that we might
have life and life more abundant; yet millions of people who have
come to the church to find God and to find a relationship with
heaven have also walked away in varying degrees of disappointment
frustration and confusion.
Some, as Bill Mahre had religion “drilled into your head when you
were a small child. It certainly was drilled into mine
at that age.”
Sad, isn’t it? The thing that was sent to give life, to bring
liberty and to set us free was corrupted
and twisted into something that is “drilled into” heads of small
children: “restraint” and “dependency.”
guess religion was drilled into my head when I was young. Like many
people of my generation I attended Sunday School and
Church and all the attendant meetings, programs and services. But
when I was 21 years old, I met a Person named Jesus. I discovered
that God liked me, that He wasn’t angry with me, and that He
intended to be my best Friend in this world and my Companion one day
when I step out of time into eternity. I found a relationship
and the relationship displaced religion.
The more I think about Bill Mahre’s comments, whatever else he means
or intends by them, I’m beginning to agree
with him, “I think religion is a neurological disorder.” I would
recommend to Mr. Mahre and to everybody who has a
problem with religion – meet a Man named Jesus; He specializes
in healing neurological disorders.
In His Grace,