Religion: A Purpose or an Agenda?

Maybe I’m just trying to cover my bets regarding the hereafter, but I attend church on Sundays and a Torah group on Mondays. I’m open to mosque recommendations in Los Angeles as long as the following applies to them. What the Torah group and church have in common are a rabbi and pastor I admire, respect and adore. Both the Torah group and church are inclusive, non-judgmental, stand for something, will stand up for something but don’t stand up belligerently against anything that doesn’t harm people or the communities in which they live.

After attending both the Torah group and church for some time, I have come to some conclusions about religion.  

The purpose of religion is to offer (vs. force upon) people the opportunity to disabuse themselves of both their destructive animal instincts and their personal self-serving egos and replace them with a perspective that better serves people and the community in which they live by bringing out their best qualities. Furthermore, religion sees you already as “whole.” It seeks to uplift you when you’re dispirited, and inspire you to be grateful and to pay it forward by giving back to the world.

The agenda of organized religion is to impel — and if that doesn’t work, to compel — people to serve and donate money to a particular religion and also to demonstrate their belief/allegiance to it by pushing it upon others.

Like my rabbi and pastor friends, my beliefs about the purpose of religion is something I will stand for and stand up for, but as long as what you believe doesn’t hurt you or others around you, I won’t bother standing up against you. My motto is believe and let believe; live and help live.

What do you think? What do you believe? What is your place of worship’s purpose? What is their agenda?

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