” … And No Religion Too!” Really John Lennon?

It’s surely unwise to start an essay that you hope will sway people’s thinking by denigrating a song millions love, but I have to say it: I detest John Lennon’s iconic, Imagine. Not only do I find the melody insipid, but the lyric “And no religion too,” punctures my soul.

Oh yes, I have heard how many problems religion causes -–all the wars, and all the destruction.

And lately Bill Maher has weighed in on the question, saying:

“When I hear from people that religion doesn’t hurt anything, I say, ‘Really?’ Well besides wars, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, 9/11, the suppression of women, the suppression of homosexuals, fatwas, honor killings, suicide bombings, arranged marriages to minors, human sacrifice, burning witches, and systematic sex with children, I have a few quibbles.”

To Mr Maher and Mr Lennon, I respond as follows:

Of course religion has caused great harm. Different religious expressions have perpetrated all of the horrors, Mr. Maher, that you note!

The problem is not with religion itself but with the distortion of religious ideals. Those wars result from our inability to accept that well-meaning people can view religious questions and practices differently. We do not need to do away with religion. We need to do away with our compulsion to force OUR religion on others. We need to learn to not only tolerate, but to respect and affirm religious diversity.

No doubt there are many thorns in the rose garden of religion, and many have felt the sting of those thorns. But on balance, we are far better off with religion than without it.

Without religion humanity would never have perceived that life has purpose and meaning and that we are each called in our own way to treat others with dignity and respect and to use our talents to create a more just, caring and compassionate society.

Without religion no one would have ever felt the call of a good, caring God, to feed, the poor, clothe the naked and house the homeless. Of course many people today do not believe in God but still do wonderfully positive things. But would they have ever discovered the impulse to do those things had people long ago not done them because they felt God commanded them to?

I doubt it.

Religion is like fire, the automobile, the internet and many other things we can name. All of these can be horribly destructive, but I would not want to Imagine the world without them.



One thought on “” … And No Religion Too!” Really John Lennon?

  1. I gotta take issue (don’t be too surprised) “Imagine” is not my favorite Lennon opus. Matter of fact I don’t like it. But that is not because of the religion thing. It just because it is bland and boring…as you said, “insipid” The musings of someone who has done a whole lot of dope. So far we are sort of agreeing. But I think that your statement that (paraphrase) without religion we would not feed the hungry, etc. is off base. Some of the kindest, most generous and most socially involved people I have known have been atheists. We don’t need organized religion to do the right thing. We just need a inner sense of justice and the courage to fight for it. Religions were organized to give rules and regulations to people who need and want them. But there are an awful lot of people who don’t need that external control. Also, as soon as people organize into groups…religious…political…cultural…they automatically set them selves apart from others. It’s like they are saying “I am going to be part of this group because I think it is better than that group. If they did not think it was better they would have no reason to join. Once you start thinking your way is better that someone else’s way you have laid the groundwork for conflict. Without religions, without boarders and boundaries, without allegiance to flags, etc we would have a whole lot less to fight about and could concentrate some of our energy on helping each other.
    But, it is the nature of man to be selective and acquisitive, to explore and conquer. If we could just get past that conquering thing….Imagine.


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