This sermon was delivered as part of the live service on Sunday 9th December.
Some of you may be aware that a few weeks ago, the General Synod of the Church of England voted against allowing women to become Bishops. Prior to the vote, there was real optimism that it would pass, with the vast majority of Christians within the Church of England supporting the motion. However, despite the motion gaining a 72.6% majority overall, the complicated voting system of the General Synod requiring a two thirds majority in each of the 3 voting Houses meant that the vote was not passed as a result of the House Of Laity being 6 votes short of a two thirds majority.
This has caused widespread anger, sadness and condemnation, with many people having left the Church in recent weeks and a growing wave of anger resulting in serious questions from both the public and the Government over whether a sexist organisation can feasibly continue to be the official State Religion.
However, although people are leaving the Church, does this mean that they are leaving Christianity altogether? Not necessarily. It is not Christianity’s fault that the vote failed, and most people recognise this. It is the fault of the members of the House Of Laity who refused to listen to and take into account the views of the people that they are supposed to be representing. They voted selfishly and it is those people who should be condemned, not the religion itself.
Religion is often seen as a bad thing. It is quite normal for people to join the Temple and write in their introduction thread or their journal that they’ve never really liked religion, because it causes too much conflict and suffering, or because it is corrupt. Admittedly, some unspeakably evil acts are committed in the name of religion. And sometimes religious teachings, doctrines and laws grow very different and distorted from what they started off as, and what they were intended to be.
But ask yourself – does this make religion fundamentally evil? Or is it a case of what I would call ‘religious politics’, whereby a person, or a group of people, are behind the wrongs and injustices that are being done?
Usually those people who come here stating their disapproval of religion will say that Jediism seems different. Or that it isn’t really a religion in the same way as other religions are. But whether you personally see Jediism as a philosophy, path, way of life, or anything else, it is officially a religion, and as such it is not exempt from religious politics. All religions have them, to an extent. It is what will naturally happen when you put two or more people together and try to determine what the best way of proceeding is. When people truly believe that their way is best, they become very unwilling to compromise, and disagreement sets in.
What it is important to do is to see past these things. Without religious politics, there would be no organised religion, unless somehow everyone magically learnt to instantly completely agree on everything. It will always happen from time to time – between different religions, between different forms of the same religion, between different organisations of the same forms, and within organisations.
It is always sad to see people become disillusioned with religion itself because of the politics instigated by members of a religion. Whilst I would genuinely not wish someone to stay a part of a religion that was not right for them, when we find ourselves growing frustrated at rules and arguments that are not fundamental to our core beliefs, perhaps before leaving the religion behind without a backwards glance, or imploding and emitting a tirade of verbal fury, we should
And ask ourselves “Are my core beliefs and truths being challenged here? Or is it something more trivial that I should not be this angry about? Is it my religion that is failing me, or are the failings caused by other people who simply see and interpret things differently to me?”
Most likely you will find that the problem is being caused by a person, or group of people, and that your religion continues to hold as much relevance and importance to you as it did before. Just as with most members of the Church Of England, it is easy to feel greatly wronged, frustrated or dissatisfied by religion – we are taught that religion should be the source of spiritual fulfilment, not spiritual turmoil, and when the latter is caused, it is natural to feel that we are not getting what we signed up for. But when we focus on what is REALLY important, and let the ‘politics’ go by without paying them too much attention or investing huge reserves of emotional energy in them, we will find that the basis of our religion is still there, unchanged, waiting to provide us with that spiritual fulfilment that we had lost sight of.