beach doc fred garth world religions

One Religion

by Fred Garth

I don’t want to flatter L. Ron Hubbard, but I’m going to start my own religion, too. If you don’t know, he’s the guy who said, “If you want to get really rich, start your own religion.” So he started Scientology and catered to movie stars. He got wealthy. Surprise, surprise.

I’m not in it for the money (the third-biggest lie), and I’m just calling it One Religion because it’s the one thing every major religion agrees on—that there’s one Supreme Being. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, and even Catholics don’t fight over that. Yes, we all worship a Great, All-Knowing Spiritual Entity. Now, let’s hold hands, sing “KumBaYa,” and celebrate our similarity. We all have one brain, one heart, and one nose to snub at all the other religions except for ours. Everyone thinks they’re right, and few are willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, everyone is right. Religion is good. Love each other. Do we really need all those other granular details?

I grew up in America’s Deep South, where Christianity rules. But even our “love one another” Christians had problems agreeing. The fanatical Southern Baptists thought they had everything right, and those zealot Church of Christ folks claimed that everyone else was going to hell. Please show me in the Bible where it says anything about the Church of Christ, much less everyone else being eternally damned because they missed Wednesday night Bible study. Lighten up, people.

Where is it written that women can’t style their hair or wear dresses above their knees? Did God really demand that Catholic priests can’t have sex? What’s up with that anyway? Maybe if celibacy was outlawed, we’d have less child abuse. Just saying.

The thing that’s so infuriating is that a lot of church-going folks can’t even follow the Ten Commandments. They get so caught up in the other 1,000-plus pages in the Bible, yet they can’t even follow 10 very straightforward, specific rules. Even pastors. I mean, everyone knows a preacher or two who ran off with a member of the congregation or their assistant. They couldn’t quite live up to rules six and eight. And they’re preachers, for God’s sake. Of course, being a preacher is an emotional vice-grip. They spend their days consoling the sick and dying, giving eulogies, counseling the tormented souls of their congregation, and battling with church committees made up of retirees with a “my way or the highway” mentality. Only a special human has the guts to be a good pastor. And we need more good ones. But I don’t want to discuss hypocrisy. I want to focus on my main subject—my new religion.

I’m going to take the greatest hits from Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Native America’s Great Spirit, and Christianity to form my One Religion. Mohammed, Buddha, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus will all show us the way to enlightenment. We’ll include Mother Teresa, Gandhi, heck, even Tom Brady, or any other humans who selflessly devote their lives to enriching the rest of ours.

In One Religion, you can believe that Jesus was the Son of God if you want to. But if you don’t believe that, we won’t kick you out. We respect your right to believe what you want as long as you follow the Big 10. Anyway, Jesus’ advice for living life has shaped the world regardless of whether Mary was a virgin or not. Love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek—that’s wisdom the world needed 2,000 years ago and still can’t live up to today. The miracles Jesus performed were phenomenal, but the wisdom he imparted is what One Religion will focus on.

Sadly, religious fanatics get bent arguing about who is the true prophet rather than the message they tried to bring us. It wasn’t their body that changed the world. It was their soul. Mohammed believed in peace; Buddha preached love and peace. If nothing else, Jesus was about love. The core values are the same. But for zealots, religion has always been about partisanship. It’s like a republican voting against a bill simply because a democrat introduced it. It’s politics at its ugliest.

So One Religion is about stripping away the labels and focusing on the messages we can all agree on. The entire doctrine is less than one paragraph as follows:

There’s one all-knowing, wonderful Spirit, ruler of all things. Love is pure. Love your family and your neighbors as you love yourself. Do your best to love those who hate you. Don’t murder, lie, cheat, or steal. Do not hate, be jealous, or deceitful. Smile often. Laugh more often. Be friendly. Cry when you feel like it. Be honest and ethical in your personal and business life. Treat all people equally regardless of age, race, sex, or social status. Love your spouse and be kind to your kids. No hitting for any reason. That goes for your pets, too. No adultery. Use moderation whenever possible. Do not send email viruses. Seek help from friends when you need it. Give help freely when asked. Don’t drink too much. Good people who believe and trust the Supreme Spirit and who follow these rules will live in glory forever. Bad people will be banished to a vacant Walmart for eternity.

That’s it. Why get too complicated? We’d be in pretty good shape if we could stick to those simple rules. That’s my One Religion. I don’t take any money, I don’t have any buildings, I don’t have any missionaries. I just have a message. And that’s free.

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