Okay here’s the thing I am tired of religious communities who act as though they are too big to fail. If a religious community does not do significant charity work they need to be taxed. Being and upholding an old tradition does not necessarily justify your current existence. Any community that does not give women an equal role in their work is questionable in my opinion. Gee whilikers it’s the twenty first century. Any community who wish to interpret scripture as commandments to persecute another population is not necessary. As an extreme example take Fred Phelps church it would be a boon to society if they would quietly go away and leave the dearly departed and their families alone. There are whole religious denominations that act as though they are God’s gift of morality to us. Take dare I say it Catholicism. I have never been so pissed as I was when not even three months after the whole child Catholic priest molestation cases saw light, a bishop in the name of the Catholic Church teaching inserted themselves in several issues because as the bishop stated they cared about the preservation of the family and especially children. They had the nerve to claim some spiritual high ground. There was no humility. There was no look at the beam in your eye before you judge the speck in your brother’s eyes.
And I swear I heard throughout this revelation of abuses whatever happens we cannot let the Catholic church die it is too big and does too much good in the world. Really while I am not going to say they should die on the grapevine of religion but it should at least be deemed as a possibility. There should be a weighing in of their inherent sexism in their structure, their ongoing birth control stance, their Vatican bank scandals, and other issues should cause pause to ask do we really need the Catholic Church? The attitude of the Catholic Church toward divorce is a bit dated and in cases of domestic abuse downright dangerous. If we did not approach the Catholic Church as if it was too big to fail they would begin to make some of their teachings more loving and accepting.
I know I may sound Anti-Catholic but I am a fan of some of the great spiritual people that have come out of the Catholic Church: Mother Theresa, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, St. Francis and many others. But their presence does not necessarily outweigh genocide of Native Americans, homophobia, Spanish Inquisition, opposition to Liberation Theologians and priests, and others too numerous to go into here. A good Catholic pope such as we now have in Francis does not excuse all the abuses former pope’s teachings have engendered. Certainly if we did moral inventory and usefulness study of the Catholic Church beyond their doors some and maybe many churches would be cited as good and some and maybe many would be cited as wanting.
It is not only Catholicism but many other denominations in the South supported slavery, segregation, and second- class citizenship of women all concepts that are by and large thought to be wrong today. So I not only think it is good for any society to reflect if any religious community (I would not exclude Jews, Muslims, Hindus and other religions from scrutiny) is necessary from time to time I think it is healthy for the religious communities as well. Who knows just as corporations change marketing firms from time to time maybe God would like that privilege too. That is not to say a religious community has to be batting a thousand but .300 would be nice. Our world is constantly changing but for the most part our denominations stay the same and are losing any connection to the world outside their doors.
So I propose if a church's budget, building and volunteers do not use at least fifty-one percent of itself to promoting concrete actions, not theological words, to helping with crime, poverty, environmental problems, civil rights, and other pressing issues the free ride of tax free property and minister’s salary should stop. Of course people have the right to congregate and practice whatever they want but if they are more country club than charity the free ride should stop. Strangely this could save the slowly dying Church by examining who they are and what they should be doing. In the book of Revelation the churches are judged and some fare better than others wouldn’t you want to be sure you are not found wanting. James the brother of Jesus wrote “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” All I am asking for is some old time religion. Nothing is too big to fail except maybe God.