Monday, March 30, 2009

Religion and Justice

Yesterday in church we looked at the passage in 2 Samuel when Nathan confronts David on his antics with Bathsheba. In the midst of this story we get caught up in the soap opera events it is easy to miss what is at the heart of the account. Nathan is speaking to injustice. It was not bad enough David took Bathsheba to be his wife, and had Uriah killed, it was that he exploited and dehumanized people in the process. If we take a good look at the parable Nathan tells it is not about adultery, it is about injustice.

There is a funny, not ha ha, connection between justice an religion. Not always but often religion is engage in furthering injustice. Most of the time this is not a willing choice, nonetheless it is there. Throughout history people who have been connected with religion have used religious language to justify the exploitation of people. Dare I mention the Crusades, slavery, racism, the list goes on. It has not always been in justifying that religion has contributed, it has also been found with inaction. Religion is very good at drawing lines between the society at large and the world of religion.

Religion is a system of conducting an organization for the propagation of that organization. When a relationship with Jesus Christ becomes a religion is when there is a movement from relationship to rules. Religion places a high value on maintaining order, tradition, while protecting the institution. Often to do this those who would challenge religion and possible threaten its security, are marginalized. Enter the justice issue.

Religion can further injustice, yet Jesus was working to bring justice. It seems religion, specifically the religion of Christianity, can work against its very foundation. The church should be a prophetic voice, instead it is often found to be a contributor. Until the church begins to reclaim its prophetic voice, it will continue to be empty religion.

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