I finished reading a quick CNN article, Recovering Catholics Reveal Spiritual Journeys. According to a 2008 study by the Pew Forum on Religious Life and Public Life, 31% of Americans were raised Catholic, but only 24% now describe themselves as Catholic.
In truth, I was never actually raised Catholic. While I was in Catholic school for a short period of my life, my parents never regularly participated in Catholic. And up until the time I was 18, I pretty much felt I was the only one who thought of God day-in-and-day-out. There are probably four key measures of religious commitment: belief in God, frequency of prayer and frequency of worship service attendance. Yet looking back at my life, I always had some belief and a little bit of prayer. That was it, nothing more.
Still, a large majority of Americans who are affiliated with a religion, including majorities of most faith groups, say there is more than one religion that can lead to eternal life and more than one way to interpret the teachings of their faith. And if one has read my blog, I pretty much concur. But if America is a religious country, then why do so many former Catholics, like me, leave? For me, I left simply because my needs were not met and I remain unwelcome.
They may be tough words, but this is not a rant against Rome. There are many wonderful Catholics. They are good people, are not ignorant, not evil and not stupid. There simply has been no way for the church to find a place for me and the solace in Buddhism been welcoming time and time again.
Also, there is considerable variance in adopting sacred texts. Roughly two-thirds of Americans view the sacred text of their religion as the word of God. More than eight-in-ten members of evangelical churches, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible is the word of God, while a majority of Muslims say the Koran is the word of God. By contrast, only 18% of Buddhists and 37% of Jews and Hindus say their sacred texts are the word of God. In fact, a majority of groups say their faith’s sacred texts are written by men and do not constitute the word of God. Personally, as a Buddhist, I tend to believe texts, while inspired, are not verbatiumly factual. But that’s my opinion and I mean no disrespect to your faith.
What’s incredible to me is that regardless of religion, almost half have stated they experience a sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least once a week. Think about it, that is awesome almost half experience the full sense of God at least once a week. That is truly beautiful. And lastly, almost three-quarter of us feel that many religions can lead to eternal life and more than one-way to interpret religious teachings.
The omnipotence of Christ, Buddha, the Koran, Judaism, etc. lay not in the text but rather it’s the people that surround and envelope each other in love. This very act of love conquers all barriers and welcomes all weary travelers. As a Buddhist, all are welcome into my Sangha and my home.