Archive | April 2016

ALL Religions Are Paths to God

In a taped interview in early April, Pope Francis II stated his belief that ALL religions are a path to God. This is a revolutionary concept from the standpoint of the Roman Catholic church, who previously espoused that Catholicism was the only way to God.

The Pope’s statement, at last, opens the door for all the world’s religions to become more interactive, interreligious and ecumenical. Given the many problems and conflicts facing the world today, all people of faith need to work, live and pray together to reduce injustice and forge cooperative relationships to address the world’s problems.

Of course, there was immediate resistance from some of the more conservative, evangelical denominations speaking doom and gloom that this was the beginning of the ‘one world religion’, which would bring about the downfall of the world. Their contention is that there is only one religion, Christianity, and that all others are heretical. They use the John 14:6 Scripture:

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Many of the other world religions see the use of this particular scripture (and others like it), to denigrate their beliefs and justify alienation and violence against them. We need to be reminded that

    So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them (Genesis 1:27)

This Genesis text (or a slight variation of it) exists in all religions. All faiths recognize that we are all created in the image of a supreme being, no matter what the creator is called (God, YHWH, Father, Almighty, Creator, Great Spirit, Supreme All-Powerful Gigantic One, perfect being, All Merciful One).

The world’s religions may think of the creator differently, feel differently about his position in their lives, and seek the creator in different ways. But it is universal that we are all related to each other and are brothers and sisters, loving and loved by the Creator.

It is our responsibility, as children of God, to work together to alleviate the suffering in the world, and to love each other. All of us, regardless of our professed religion (or non-faith tradition), are children of our Creator. If we acknowledge foundation of love for one another as creations of God, we can then begin to actively seek dialogue to create peace and restore justice for all people.

It is time for all of us to step beyond our safety zone and get to know people of other religious and faith backgrounds. We need to participate in interreligious activities what will introduce us to the beauty and inspiration of other faith traditions, just as we share our own with others.

It is time to get out of the pews and into the streets to spread the wonderful news that we are all God’s children, and that we are all loved by God, no matter what we call him, and that only together can we being harmony to our earthly home.

I challenge each and every one of you to meet and talk to someone who has different religious and cultural beliefs and seek the common ground we all share.

We are all children of the same Creator – brothers and sisters of the world!
Written for The Crossroads, Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington and Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 17 April 2016

We Are All Brothers and Sisters

All human beings are 99% alike. If we looked at the book of our life, every page would be the same except for two: those on eye and skin color.

Science have shown us repeatedly that we are all alike except for 1% – whether we were born in Canada, China or the U.S.; what is our eye and hair color; what is our skin color –that is the 1%.

Otherwise we are all alike!

It is astounding and downright crazy that we all tend to emphasize that 1%. The greatest wars, the greatest violence, and the greatest cruelty that human beings have done to one another has been because of that 1%, in the form of





So when we hear these terms, it causes us to think in extremes about other people, rather than emphasizing the many common things that we all share. These words emphasize the differences in people, causing fear and anxiety.

Prejudice causes us to judge a person’s character by their outward appearance. When we discriminate we deprive a person of the right to have what others have. Segregation deprives a person of the right to belong and to explore the differences and uniqueness in others. Profiling prevents a person from being a part of a majority.

Profiling lumps together all those people from a certain background, or a certain occupation, or a certain race, and attribute to each individual the same characteristics of the entire group. Although traits may generally be true of a group, it is NEVER always true of every person in that group.

Such stereotypes as “Blondes are all ditzy,” “All men are pigs,” or “All women are too emotional” are not supported by our personal observations. They show our blind acceptance of wild generalizations about people as being ‘the rule’.

These generalizations and stereotypes are not only incorrect, they are unfair, and unacceptable if we are to live in a harmonious and vibrant society.

All of us have, at one time of another, experienced prejudice against ourselves. Stereotyping leads to prejudice. Prejudice is defined as “unfavorable judgment due to partiality.” Prejudice divides, isolates, and ostracizes people. Prejudice is never neutral; it reacts strongly either for or against someone or something without knowing the facts. Prejudice has its root in ignorance, and leads to further ignorance. Prejudice embraces the idea of “don’t confuse me with the facts!”, perpetuating that ignorance.

Prejudice is also a way for some people to elevate themselves above others, by putting down and criticizing others. Slurs are used to describe people you do not know or dislike, hoping to get others to agree with your prejudice so that you can feel a member of a powerful group. Truly, one group of people cannot be better than another group, since all of us have come from the same ancestors.

We are all human beings and creations of God. We are told in Acts 17:26 that

God created all the people of the world from one man, Adam, and scattered the nations across the face of the earth.

In the Bible we are taught that those who judge according to outward appearance are foolish—that we do not see people the way God sees them,

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7).

During the early days of Jesus’ ministry, his disciples felt the Jews were ‘the chosen people’, and the Gentiles, the uncircumcised and pagans could never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. After being reminded by God three times, Saint Peter finally understood that

“In truth, I am grasping (beginning to understand) that God is no respecter of appearances (shows no partiality). (Acts 10:34)

God has shown me in a vision that I should never think of anyone as inferior. (Acts 10:28)

God loves everyone!

In Galatians 3:28, we are told that God is color blind/race blind/gender blind:

there are no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. We are all equal; we are all Abraham’s descendants (Galatians 3:28).

From time to time it’s good to search our hearts to see what our prejudices are, and try to understand why we hold these prejudices.

For the next four weeks, we are going to have guests visiting In The Garden who come from other religions and cultures. Although their observance of their religions is different from Christianity, you may be surprised to learn how similar to Christianity many of their beliefs are. We hope to learn about people who we have, perhaps, criticized and felt negative about simply because of things we have heard or read.

Next week we will have Cantor Lauren Bandman, who will speak to us about the Jewish religion and share some of the things that are part of their worship service. She is a fine singer and will present several Jewish songs that are part of the Shabbat service.

On April 17th, some of the students from the OSU Muslim Students are coming to debunk some of the misconceptions of the Islam religion. These are the students who fast one day a week so that they can prepare the sack lunches that you take home for Sunday evening.

On April 24, we will be hearing from Tarunjit Batalia, a member of the Sikh community, a branch of the Hindu religion. Sikhs have suffered persecution and violence because many people think they are Muslims, since they wear a turban as part of their culture.

On May 1, we will welcome Ernestine Jackson, a Buddhist, to talk about the similarities of the doctrine of Buddhism and Christianity.

This will be, I believe, an interesting and informative series of programs for all of us, and I invite you to bring friends and tell others who might be interested in these programs.

Let us remember

God created all the people of the world from one man, Adam, and scattered the nations across the face of the earth. (Acts 17:26)

These are our brothers and sisters. They are loved by the same God; live in the same world and share with us the joys and challenges of being a human being.

Let us come to better know these brothers and sisters from other faith traditions, so that we may love and understand them, as we hope they will love and understand us.


 Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 3 April 2016