I found this old news paper clipping in my Bible the other day and thought I’d put it here rather than continue to carry it around there. I don’t know how old this is but I am guessing 8+ years.
I believe there is an important distinction between two senses of the word “religion” that many decent people don’t understand, and I’m not being sarcastic about this. Religion can be understood and practiced in two very different ways: as a routine act and as a reflective act.
As a routine act, religion is an object of worship in its own right, an excuse not to think and a justification for violence against those who are not of the same religion. In this routine sense prayer is a weapon to be used against “pagans,” “heathens,” and “infidels.” Rent Schindler’s List and watch what happens when any religion becomes an object of worship by its practitioners, a routine to be enforced against unbelievers at any cost including war.
On the other hand, religion as a thoughtful, reflective practice, which is what I hope most people have in mind, is a process of standing back from all of the everyday routines of our lives (including our religious routines) and inquiring whether the results of those routines are likely to be acceptable in the eyes of a being of infinite knowledge, power, and goodness. In this sense prayer is a means of achieving the highest level of personal responsibility.
– Jim Perry