I believe in the separation of Church and God.
Too often churches and religious movements commandeer God, using God to their exclusive advantage, twisting the words of God to whatever purpose or belief they might have. Some churches espouse a sometimes thinly veiled liturgy of superiority, mistrust, intolerance, and fear mongering with regard to other faiths and other churches. It appears that religion deems it in their best interest to point out the differences between faiths and to sow the seeds of uncertainty with regard to an afterlife.
We have seen God’s name invoked in discriminating against gays, the repression and abuse of women, the enslavement of Africans, and the killing of all manner of peoples from holocausts to genocides. All done under the sanction of religion, but surely not with God’s blessing.
Many religions use God to back up their claim that they are the one true religion, and in turn to sanction these atrocities. Were it true, and many religions and churches make this claim, the existence of a single true religion implies that God is somehow testing us and that we are in an adversarial relationship with God. But if that were the case, he could have easily made sure we all worshiped Him the same way from the beginning.
Instead, I believe that God gave us many means to find the True Way: Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, even New Age Spiritualism. Their guidelines on how we should live Life are remarkably similar. If this is the case, no religion or church is better than any other. They, like humankind, are all created equal in His eyes
I believe that God sees all of us – believers, agnostics, atheists and secularites – of any gender, faith or race as equal, worthy and blessed. There are many in each category that try to live their lives in concert with God’s way. There are also many in each who do not.
Regardless of one’s religion, much has been speculated about with regard to our purpose in life. For me as a Christian, the answer seems deceptively simple: God and Christ have left us with two guidelines for living our lives: love God, and love your neighbor (that is, all others) as yourself. Simple to express, but challenging to practice.
By extension, our purpose in life must be to live our lives according to these teachings. And if we are true to this goal in life, then we must support the desires of others to find their own paths in any way they can.
Which brings me to a key question: Is our task in life to start from scratch and see how much progress we can make? While we can certainly learn to love God in a single lifetime, it is the rare person who also learns to love every other person completely. To do so is to love Hitler, Idi Amin Dada, Stalin, and Pol Pot as we love ourselves. I, for one, am not nearly there yet.
Or, are our souls reincarnated again and again to take up from where we left off last time as we continue a journey towards spiritual perfection? It stands to logic that we go through life learning lessons that bring our souls closer to the perfect love of one another, and as this life ends our souls begin another that furthers our progress. If the true purpose of Life is to learn to live it as God wishes, then we must conclude that this is how He intends for us to do so.