Prayer is an important part of my life, and I have raised my children with daily prayer. We go to church about half the time. I speak the Gospel to them from a position of personal belief. Yet I do not worry that my children won’t become a Christian like me. There are much more important values that I have to teach them. These values are universal, yet not always found in practicing Christians. Compassion, independent thinking, emotional stability, and self preservation are common values of many people who don’t identify with any religion (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-oe-0115-zuckerman-secular-parenting-20150115-story.html). If I fail to impart those values, I have failed in a much greater way than passing on a particular prayer style. If my religion doesn’t give me empathy for the poor, the sick or the enslaved, than it is worthless anyway (Matthew 25). It would be better to pass on universal ethical values than a religion that does not improve a person.
So here is what I hope my kids copy more than any other aspect of my faith or religious tradition:
1. Be Polite
2. Clean up after yourself
3. Work for a living
4. Oppose injustice
I have these rules written on my refrigerator. Obeying these rules, not religious traditions, will save America. Look what religious extremism has done in countries practicing Islam. Some forms of Christianity doing the same thing to America, to a lesser degree. Religion has allowed people to ignore the obvious consequences of their own actions. There is a higher rule than religion: compassion. I tell you the truth, even people professing other religions, even some who bowed to idols, will see the Kingdom of Heaven. But if you reject the Comforter, then you will not (Mark 3). Aggression is not in his nature. This is not the Angel of Death who swept away the firstborn boy children of Egypt. And it’s not the peevish writers who heaped commands on their congregations so they could be ‘free.’ The Kingdom of Heaven is the true Spirit of Freedom, in whom we live and move and have our being. You will know followers of the One because they will flow with compassion like water, reaching down to the lowest places of the earth, always descending to nourish life at its roots: the poor, sick, and imprisoned.
Empathy is what this country needs, not another religious war. Embrace people that are different than you. If you are a Christian, you should strive to wash the feet of a gay Muslim couple getting married in an abortion clinic. The only thing you are condoning is Compassion. Like water, flow to the lowest place. If you think someone is less than you, than they perfectly fit the description of someone you should visit, care for, and assist. In the end, you will realize that you are the least of all, and in that lies your greatness. To quote the first Christian, ‘The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.’ Yet this is not a Christian message, it is a message to all faiths, to Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Satanist, Voodoo, Who do, You do, or none of the above. It is a message for people, for we are all the same. If we have not love, we are nothing but music that is way too loud or the deafening crash of machinery, unfit for the Purpose for which it was made (I Corinthians 13).