Ah, the arrogance of organized religion

This is what has turned me off of mainstream religions. This being the thought that they are the Only One, the One True Light. It bothers me that they have the arrogance to say that everyone does not follow them is going to hell, trodden down by the IPU, etc.

I turned to Buddhism partly because of this. It teaches that every time you are comfortable with it, evaluate if you really are. We make no claims that we are the one true religion.

I think it is that the religions want to project a sense of power. Anyone have input on this?

I guess it really isn’t a debate. Please turn it into one if ya can, it would be enlightening.

Buddhism is an exception, and it is (strongly) argued that it’s not a religion, so its failure to assert that it’s the one true religion shouldn’t be used to claim it’s superior to other religions (which is what you are asserting. Kinda ironic, huh? ;)).

As for other religions asserting they are the One True Way, what’s wrong with that. That’s kinda the point. Of course they’re gonna claim that, for two reasons:

  1. (selfish) If you are going to adhere to a religion with its commandments/rules that you cannot engage in all forms of self-serving and/or pleasurable activities, you damn well will believe that yours is the One True Way. Otherwise your sacrifices are meaningless.

  2. (altruistic) If your religion is a prostelytizing (sp?) one, and the only two I can think of that are not are Hinduism and Judaism, you want to convince others to join your religion in order to save their souls. It will be very hard to convince them to join up if your’s isn’t the One True Way.


“all sorts of” rather than “all forms of”.


You want to be “enlightened” by followers of organized religion ?(because you know…we’re all alike, why just the other idea I was sitting down with my good friends Jerry Falwell and Andrew Greeley…we were talking about what a bunch of chumps those “non organized religion” people are…)

I dislike being an apologist for organized religion, primarily because I’m not all that organized, but what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.

First, Buddhism may not be a particularly mainstream religion in the U.S., but it certainly is in other parts of the world, so you’ve pretty much contradicted your argument with your first line.

Ahh, perhaps you’re talking about WESTERN religions – particularly the Judeo-Christian-Moslem branch. Okay, let’s go from there.

The first of the Ten Commandments reads (depending on the translation) “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.” So right from the get-go, there’s a certain “my way or the highway” built in.

Even with that, most “mainstream” Christian denominations have softened their “arrogance” toward those who believe differently. The compressed version of this is “those who live a godly life will see God.”

Of course, there are also groups like the Unitarian-Universalists (Espirx, are you around?) who recognize and celebrate diversity in belief and forms or worship. They believe there is a Supreme Being (not a particularly rigorous test of faith for someone seeking a religion) but leave other details to the individual’s conscience.

There are always petty little people who will dress themselves in the trappings of a religion to get what they want and crush those whom they dislike. From time to time one of these people may actually achieve a position of authority. They no more define what religion is than the flaws of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton define what the presidency is.

Also, religions do not evolve in a vacuum. They are shaped as much by the culture of their founders and members as they are by God. If Judaism seems at times a little tribal or clannish with its concern about heritage, it’s partly because it started as a tribal religion and partly because its enemies have always been happy to persecute someone on the basis of heritage. If Christian denominations seem concerned with power, it’s partly because Christians were officially persecuted for the first 400 years, and have spent the rest of the time watching the guy on the throne pretty much decide what everyone else was going to believe.

I don’t know you. I don’t know whether you’ve lived a life that deserves heaven or hell, and I’m not the one to judge you. I hope that the way you have chosen helps you “lead a godly life.” However, I have evaluated (and continue to evaluate)whether I am comfortable with my belief system. I am. I respect your choice to follow a path that I may not agree with. I ask that you respect mine equally.

And now, any real theologians out there?

I would like to make the point that in Buddhism, there is no desire for more converts. We present our views and let the people decide which path leads them to happiness.

Of course Buddhism is mainstream in other parts of the world. I was fumbling for a word to use. I kind of meant “mainstream religions in the US”.

And beagledave, I understand your concern. However, any chance I can get to learn about others’ views and thoughts is a most enlightening experience. I learn about other people, and how they have chosen to lead their life.

IMHO, the reason Buddhists so not actively seek converts is that they do not need the money. Jerry Falwell may need all the cash he can get to make more temples, and Rev. Phelps his “God hates fags” signs. But in our belief, money can cause suffering and dispair. Sure, it’s nice, but it is not crucial in presenting our ideas to others.

Well, I’m not Esprix, but I can say for a fact that UUs do not universally (ha!) believe that there is a “Supreme Being.” In my fellowship alone there are a number of atheists and agnostics - in fact, the woman who introduced me to the fellowship is an atheist! Some do, some don’t - some are pagan, some are Christian, some are Jewish, some are Buddhists…

and UUs are hardly organized. I seem to hear the phrase “Herding cats” a lot in the Church.

Also, UUs do not proseletyze, though as far as I can tell they’re always happy to meet new folks.

Well so far you seem to be painting the notion of “organized religion” with a fairly narrow brush…(hence my sarcastic reference to Falwell AND Greeley)

AFAIK Polycarp and Jerry Falwell are both practioners of “organized” religion…do you really want to lump them together in your rant?

Beagledave, again, I had a poor choice of words. I’ll list some that I find the “One guiding light” trend in and the subsequent arrogance. These are in no particular order, mind you:

Heaven’s Gate
Jehovah’s Whitnesses

What I meant was that the religions with more organized structure tend to have an arrogance complex. Not all religions or sects are like this- but many are. I think it again, has to do with money.

btw, what was the purpose in quoting my words in that last post of yours? I was simply trying to show my tolerance and hunger for knowledge of things foreign to me.

What…no Judaism?..they seem pretty structured…monotheistic etc…

I’m a bit more knowledgable about Christianity than the other belief systems you mentioned, but you are accusing ALL Christians of “…the arrogance to say that everyone does not follow them is going to hell, trodden down by the IPU”…

I eagerly await your proof that ALL Christians (hell, I’ll make it simpler, that ALL Christian denominations) teach that everyone that does not follow them is “going to hell, trodden down by the IPU.”

Judaism is very explicit that their religion applies only to them - it is a covenant between G-d and themselves, and no one else need follow Mosaic/Talmudic law.* So Jews do not claim that their religion is the One True Way - it’s only the One True Way for them.


*IIRC, there is at least some belief in Judaism that non-Jews should follow Noahide law, as this was laid down by G-d before the the arising of the Jewish people and thus was given by G-d to all peoples. Someone else will have to give more detail, if you are interested.

While I am an atheist, and I somewhat agree with the OP, I have to ask, what exactly is wrong with arrogance, if, in fact, God has come down to you and told you that you’re the one true way?

I can’t imagine believing in Christianity, who’s main point is that God has visited earth, and got some of his buddies to write a pretty cool book about him, if they DIDN’T claim to be the “one true way,” since that’s pretty much the point of their book.

If they HONESTLY believe that God has told them that they’re the one true way, then I don’t see any arrogance in claiming that they are the one true way.

The Celtic Church has generally followed a belief that - altho “our way” is the “BEST”* way- there are other ways as valid. For instance, the Jewish folks can be saved as well- but they have a large number of Laws to follow. So, altho we are perhaps not all that well ‘organized’ :smiley: we do not claim to be the “one true light”.

  • at least for us.

beagledave- well sooOOOooorry! I do not posess the Cecil-like knowledge of Judaism that you most certainly posess. I did not want to make assumptions. Something you might be familiar with. :rolleyes:

DITWD, that is what I like in a religion. The acceptance of other world views. I don’t see any arrogance in that. Thank you for being accepting of other people whose ideas might differ from yours.

…perhaps it’s a bit assumptive to lump all Christians together? :rolleyes:

I’m still waiting for you to provide evidence to support your OP … that ALL Christian denominations (indeed, all organized religions) teach that everyone that does not follow them is “going to hell, trodden down by the IPU.”

But the IPU is the One True Way!!
(P.S. – red_dragon60, you’re gonna love the 3rd Edition D&D Monster Manual. Red Dragons have a lot more hit points, a better armor class, and do more damage with their breath weapons, than they did in the 1st Edition Monster Manual.)

Christians are presumably not bound literally to Old Testament law, as Jesus showed by picking kernels of grain for his disciples on the Sabbath. Those who take the Bible literally, however, are stuck with John 14:6, in which Jesus says “…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. Some say he was speaking in the Spirit and not as the particular man “Jesus”, and others question whether coming to the Father is the same thing as “salvation”, whatever that means. But as normally understood, that means all other religions are just plain wrong. Since we wouldn’t want anybody to go to Hell (except those fornicators down the block), if we are Christians we have to try to convert those in error.


Personally I’m an atheist but I do fit into the “my way is the only right way” train of thought. I really really can’t stand wishy washy beliefs that everyone is correct. If you believe in a religion then you should believe it is the only correct way. Otherwise why believe it?


I turned to Buddhism partly because of this. It teaches that every time you are comfortable with it, evaluate if you really are. We make no claims that we are the one true religion.

I think it is that the religions want to project a sense of power. Anyone have input on this?

I guess it really isn’t a debate. Please turn it into one if ya can, it would be enlightening. **

tracer- I have seen the stats, and they do make me drool. So many hit dice! I am glad they made me a worthy enemy again.

beagledave: from the Christian groups I have whitnessed, many believe such things. Although, as DITWD pointed out, many do not. I admit that my experience is limited by not knowing every sect and their beliefs. As alonicist pointed out, there are passages in the bible which state that it is the only way. However, many do not literally take the OT into account. However, ask a Christian if they believe that they are following the only way to salvation. Most will say yes. This is where I have a problem. It is common in other religions also.

I guess it is the unerring belief and non-questioning that gets me. One purpose in life is to ask questions and try to find out about ourselves.

Unerring belief and non-questioning are not the same as believing your faith is the OTW. The Jesuits, for example, really despise what they call “unexamined faith”, but they do believe Catholicism is the OTW.
In other faiths, doctrines change or are modified in a relatively continual process. Southern Baptists and the Mormons spring to mind.