Before going on the readers should ask themselves a simple question:
“Am I happy with my Church, its doctrine, its rules and its clergy?”
If the answer is a definite YES, then they should not read what follows.
Only those you cannot give a full positive answer to the question should continue reading with an open mind.
If we accept that men are still basically religious beings and that, at the same time, some are unhappy with the traditional religions, a new approach to religion, and a different understanding, are required for this growing minority.
It is true that new religions have been introduced in the recent past and new religious groups have seen the light. Most of them did not last long while some others were more successful, for instance:
- The Mormons are the members of any of several denominations and sects. The largest of these denominations is the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” that traces its origins to a religion founded by Joseph Smith in the United States in about 1830. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had more than 9,700,000 members by the late 20th century; its headquarters is in Salt Lake City, Utah. About 50 percent of the church’s members live in the United States, with the rest in Latin America, Canada, Europe, and parts of Oceania. The next-largest Mormon denomination, the “Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”, is headquartered in Independence, Missouri, and had a membership exceeding 200,000 in the late 20th century
- The Jehovah’s Witness sect began in the United States in the 19th century and has since spread over much of the world. They are the heirs of the International Bible Students Association founded in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1872 by Charles Taze Russell. The name Jehovah’s Witnesses was adopted in 1931 by Russell’s successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, who sought to reaffirm Jehovah as the true God, and to identify those who witness in this name as God’s specially accredited followers
- The more recent Scientologist Church has had a large appeal to a certain class of people, although many others were strongly opposed to it. Some countries have banned this church all together on accusation that they are using unlawful methods to retain their members. This church has also been accused of forcing their members to give their money and properties to the organisation
- Some Christians –a few Roman Catholics, but mostly from the Reformed Churches- have organised themselves into a number of groups whose members are known under the name of “Born Again Christians”. They are powerful in the USA but not much anywhere else
These new religions have attracted a large numbers of people, but nothing comparable to the seven main religions mentioned before. This is due to the fact that they are too dogmatic to appeal to a large membership. In addition, they do not answer the needs of the people who are not satisfied with the main religions. This is due to the fact that, even if they are new, these religions have the same defects that the main religions.
- A strong hierarchical organisation with at the top their clergy
- Strong regulations imposed by the founder/leaders
- Strict imposition of the doctrine that has to be taken as it is and not put in discussion, above all by the ordinary members
- Clearly these new religions do not satisfy at all the desire, and intellectual curiosity of many people of today. Their doctrine, rites, sacred books, organisation, etc. are imposed, often even more so that in the main old religions
Once more, it must be clear that it is not our intention to suggest in anyway that the old main seven religions, as well as all the new ones should be suppressed. Quite the opposite is true. What is proposed is that each individual, man or woman, should have the possibility to choose the religion of his or her liking without any forceful imposition and restriction. Within their chosen religion, every member should be free to interpret it in his or her own way. The members should also be allowed to study its whole past history, even if the clergy, past or present, has declared part of it heretic. If somebody is happy with one of the existing religions, all the better for him or her.
It is becoming clearer everyday that most religions, old or new, do no satisfy a growing minority of the population, especially among the more advanced and educated people of the western world. These people are not ready anymore to accept a religion that they do not fully understand; that they cannot analyse and criticise; that are full of contradictions, and based on some myths presented as truths; that rely on sacred scriptures chosen by the clergy because they represent their views and interests, while at the same time rejecting others as heretical; that pretend that only the leaders of the church know the truth, and that they are the only ones able to interpret the doctrine. All this is now unacceptable to many people, and it is for them, and them only, that the following suggestions are made.