Site Map Header

Ottawa Citizen Atricles Tab

Ottawa Citizen Logo

May 13, 2012

Question: Does it bother you more when it is a ‘religious’ person who behaves improperly?

 The “soft” answer would be that despite their religiosity, religious folks are just people after all, who share the sins and foibles of other humans, so we shouldn’t judge them harshly. The “hard” answer naturally suggests the H word — hypocrisy.

The worlds of faith and religion depend to a large extent on the power of credibility, i.e. the dynamic power of example and role-modelling. This power of example resides not only in holy scripture and the lives of the founders of the world religions, but also in believing individuals and the community. “Living the life” is a scriptural requirement.

To use a commercial analogy: in business, the salesperson must believe in the product, but she is not the product. However, to be effective, in religion, the salesperson (the believer) and the product (the demonstration of faith) should converge. If a spiritual/religious person advocates for, or is an apologist for any religion, then personal credibility becomes paramount. Personal credibility depends on example.

Everyone knows that religion especially demands ethical and spiritual behaviour from its followers. When egregious behaviour or gross violation of moral principal is perpetrated by the religious, great harm results. We know that large numbers of people have left religious communities, and even lost faith, because of the immoral or unbalanced behaviour of the hypocrite and/or the fanatic.

Many Bahá’í texts bear on the theme of the necessity of the coherence of words with deeds. These passages will serve as examples: “Therefore, you must without delay employ your powers in spreading the effulgent glow of the love of God and so order your lives that you may be known and seen as examples of its radiance” (‘Abdul-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 8).

“God sent His Prophets into the world to teach and enlighten man, to explain to him the mystery of the Power of the Holy Spirit, to enable him to reflect the light, and so in his turn, to be the source of guidance to others” (‘Abdul-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 61). Love does no harm, and guidance is accomplished by words, but especially by deeds.
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen May 13, 2012
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Home     Contact   Site Map    Web Support

© The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ottawa, Canada