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Mon, April 22

Butch's Brew: Whose religion and/or beliefs are more exacting than others?

When it comes to conversations regarding certain subjects such as sex and religion, there are those that you shouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. Those subjects are taboo because no matter what you say, it will offend someone.

However, as most realize, I've never backed off on a subject I choose to discuss or write about. I have a feeling I'm about to be "in deep kimchi" (a euphemism for "in deep trouble").

Here are some thought-provoking statistics, facts and information that most likely beg for an answer. By even mentioning them I know I'm rocking the boat of many people, both friends and foes alike, who have their own ideas and beliefs that are set in stone.

Many will immediately sound off when the subject of religion is broached. "If you don't believe in and practice my religion, then you must be a heathen." You know, "it's my way or the highway." Oh, give me a break - how can anyone honestly say a certain religion or belief is better than another? Hey, everyone has to believe in something.

According to some theologians and researchers, they estimate there are more than 4,200 religions in the world and of that number; there are about 21 major religions currently being practiced.

There are also about 1 billion people who do not profess belief in any religion except for possibly Darwinism (ape to man - that's if you choose to believe you're a distant relative is a chimpanzee). Darwinism is the theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, hereditary variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Boy, that's a mouth full.

This is the hodgepodge of the top religions people believe in and the numbers: Christianity - 2.1 billion; Islam - 1.3 billion; Secular, Irreligious, Agnostic and Atheist - 1.1 billion; Hinduism - 900 million; Chinese traditional religion - 394 million; Buddhism - 376 million; Primal Indigenous - 300 million; African Traditional and Diasporic - 100 million; Sikhism - 23 million; Juche - 19 million; Spiritism - 15 million; Judaism - 14 million; Baha'i Faith - 7 million; Jainism - 4.2 million; Shinto - 4 million; Cao Dai - 4 million; Zoroastrianism - 2.6 million; Tenrikyo - 2 million; Neopaganism - 1+ million; Unitarian Universalism - 800,000; and Rastafari Movement - 600,000.

I'm not going to attempt to go into detail about all of the 4,200 religions, let alone the top 21, but will highlight just a couple of them without, hopefully, upsetting a horde or people. Hopefully no one will choose to drive by my place and drive a wooden stake through my heart, pray for my soul or plant a burning cross in the front yard and nail me to it. Oh that's right; only Klu Kux Klan members do the cross burning nowadays and I haven't heard of anyone being nailed to a cross recently.

Secular is the state of being separate from religion, or not being exclusively allied with or against any particular religion. They include: Irreligious - beliefs that are neglectful of religion - lacking religious emotions, doctrines, or practices; Agnostic, which refers to persons not inclined toward religious belief or a particular form of religious belief; and of course, Atheist (atheism) is the absence of belief that any deities exist. I wonder if atheists believe in aliens and that we're not the only inhabitants in the universe.

Just as the term "Eastern religions" refers to Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc., and the term "Abrahamic religions" refers to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and perhaps the Baha'i faith, the terms "Neo-Pagan," "Neopagan," and "Pagan" refer to a group of separate religions.

Believe it or not, Neopagan religions are reconstructions of the ancient abandoned Pagan belief systems, including Celtic, Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Roman, and other traditions.

I must admit, it's unfortunate the references to Pagans and Paganism in the Christian Bible are universally negative, and often contain references to human sacrifice and Satan worship. These passages were partly responsible for the "burning times." These were the witch hunts and subsequent extermination of non-Christians during the Middle Ages (A.D 476 to about A.D. 1450) and Renaissance Era (beginning in 1453) periods.

Some of the disinformation spread at that time has survived until today. Many Christians still believe that a link exists between Paganism and Satan worship. That link has included modern-day Neopagans.

Here is an example I previously forgot mention and you might want to take time to contemplate or consider it. Wicca is the largest of the Neopagan religions. It is conservatively estimated that between 800,000 and one million people just in the continental United States are Wiccans. A book I recently read said there are more than 9 million people in the world are Wiccan.

Wiccans have great reverence for the Earth and for their Goddess and her consort, the horned God. Their main rule of behavior is the Wiccan Rede which forbids them from harming people, including themselves, except in some cases of self-defense.

The Wiccan Rede or rule is a statement that provides the key moral system in the Neopagan religion of Wicca and certain other related Witchcraft-based faiths.

It's pretty dim-witted how people befriend, fire and discriminate against others just because they're Wiccan. It's anomalous that people call themselves Christians yet they ignore and choose not to even listen to Jesus as depicted in the Bible - some, but not all. It amazes me when people use Christianity as a tool to hurt others or base their friendships on it. I say they're just plain ignorant or disingenuous.

Here is the first thing that is probably going to really upset a bunch of people. There are those who believe the Bible is the biggest and best piece of fiction anyone has ever written. Yep, even Hollywood moguls are so impressed with it that they have made numerous movies about it and the cast of characters in the movies depict individuals named in the Bible.

I'm not saying Christianity, based upon the Bible, is right or wrong. I'm just saying I don't understand why Christians don't listen to Jesus and their God's teachings as written in the Bible.

Everyone quickly quotes the Bible, and as we all know, No. 6 of the Ten Commandments states, "Thou Shall Not Murder." Then I say that if all Christians believe and adhere to The Ten Commandments, they should all choose to be conscientious objectors and not serve in the military, because we all know during war, people kill people. Maybe that's what it is all about, they decide when they want to follow the teachings of the Bible and when not to.

It's pretty dim-witted how people base their friendships on, and fire and discriminate against people just because they're Wiccan. It's pretty odd that people call themselves Christians, yet they ignore and don't even follow the teachings of the Bible - some, but not all. Isn't it hypocritical for some to use Christianity as a tool to hurt others even though the Bible says not to or they're just ignorant as to how they speak of others?

Before there is a mass of people who plan a religious trek and vigil to my yard, I'm not saying Christianity is stupid. I'm just saying I don't understand why Christians don't listen to Jesus and their God. I mean, the Bible does say, "Thou Shalt Not Judge Others." Well, everyone judges right? They shouldn't do it so ignorantly (if that's even a word).

No offense, but I know not all Christians are like this. Many of my friends and family are Christians and Catholics and they don't discriminate against people because of their religion or beliefs. And I don't judge them for being Christians. Okay, right now I'm just complaining and I should stop that now!

Here's another subject in the Bible that baffles me to no end. The Bible states God created Adam and Eve, but doesn't mention him creating anyone else. Of course, Adam and Eve had children and it's obvious they multiplied because look how many people now populate the world. Does this mean there was some incestuous behavior going on? Genesis 3:22-23 tells us that God removed Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden after they sinned.

The Bible also speaks of Noah, his family, Noah's Ark and how it rained 40 days and 40 nights. Noah's Ark is the vessel in the Genesis flood narrative (Genesis chapters 6-9) by which God saves Noah, his family, and a remnant of all the world's animals from the flood. If everyone except Noah's family died during the 40 days and 40 nights of rain, they too must have dabbled in incest.

Yes, there are debates on either side of religions and beliefs, but if we tackled all of them, the book in which they would be published would be more than a mile thick.

All I can say is when I served in Vietnam more than four decades ago; I fought for freedom of speech and religion, not just my choice of religion and/or beliefs, but every American's choice of religion or the lack of. Isn't that what we fought for in 1776 - our own choice, not what some countries told to us to believe?

If you'd like to read more of my past commentaries that were on Butch's Brew, read more articles about various subjects I've written or view the many photographs I've taken, visit


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