With all the talk about fake news these days, I’m most disturbed by the rise of fake religion.
What does it look like? It preens and struts. “Look at how religious I am,” it seems to say. It postures and poses, setting up pictures for the front page of the newspaper. It wants to make sure that you notice that it’s praying or serving or worshiping.
There is a reverse correlation between attention seeking and the genuineness of the behavior. Jesus once pointed this out to his disciples when they saw a religious man standing obviously in a public spot in the temple, praying out loud. “I’m thankful I’m not like that man over there in the corner.”
The person that Jesus said had integrity was the poor man weeping in the shadows saying, “I’m not worthy of your attention and grace.”
It strikes me as ironic that people who CLAIM to be disciples of Jesus fail to notice that he said to ‘pray in your closet’ and he had more respect for the poor widow who gave her last two coins rather than the rich who called attention to their large financial gifts.
We’ve had some good examples of presidents who lived a life of faith quietly. One continues to do public service; another, during his presidency, had a staffer (a seminary graduate) send him a devotional-for-the-day to his Blackberry every morning. What’s significant is the attention such people DO NOT seek through their service.
An acquaintance asked me one day in the grocery store what I thought about a picture of the president and his circle of religious advisor praying together. “Not impressed,” I said.
Let them pray in a closet, and then I will be impressed.