There’s an attitude that we confront pretty often in our discussions of what it means to be a person of faith these days. I’d call it the “religions are stupid and kill people and make everything suck” argument. It’s assumed that religious people are holding the world back. Not everyone feels this way, of course, but the view is prevalent enough to be a common feature of the discourse.
Within the Faiths Act Fellowship I see a group of thirty young people motivated by religion to eradicate malaria deaths. We’re not parading up and down the streets or burning anything. Our personal faith drives us to do good. We represent the other side of the argument – that religious people, and especially young religious leaders, are doing and will do great things. But there’s a problem: the world doesn’t believe we exist.
If we were to explain our existence to communities that have known inter-religious strife or those for whom religion is a black mark on the earth, we would be met largely with scowls and disbelief. There is a disconnect there, but it’s almost to be expected. What is worrisome is that the media is more than happy to play along with the “religions suck” argument. I submit as evidence the trailer for CNN’s special “God’s Warriors,” which was a very in-depth documentary by Christine Amanpour investigating the ways in which the Abrahamic traditions are basically racing each other to Doomsday (cue the dramatic music):
Videos and “news items” like these really do reinforce negative stereotypes about religion, making it tough for people of faith to be taken seriously when they announce that their convictions to help the unfortunate are derived from scripture. I’ve taken it upon myself to film my own documentary, which I shall title “God’s Tea Drinkers and Conversators,” to show just how worn-out the other side can really sound (cue the mysterious barnyard animal noises):
The world doesn’t think we exist because it doesn’t believe that grassroots multi-faith action to end malaria deaths can happen. We’ve got to tell them our story. We’ve got to change the conversation about religion.