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In response to Wednesday's letter, "Religion has failed to spawn acts of generosity and justice," I have to disagree. Modern day hospitals as well as numerous other institutions of social good and justice have their roots in religion, especially Christianity.
As I look around Gainesville, I see numerous and ongoing acts of generosity and justice carried out by churches: Student mentoring, homeless shelters, free medical clinics, food and food banks for the poor and elderly, financial aid to pay utility bills, free counseling, right to life efforts, and the list goes on and on. My own involvement in local justice issues, imperfect as it may be, is driven by my Christian faith.
I agree that, as Christians, we don't do nearly enough. I fear that most of us, me included, are far more attached to our "stuff" and our "lives" than Jesus desires. But to say Christianity has "failed miserably" in this regard is to ignore all the Mother Theresas who continue to visit the sick, visit the prisoners, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, bring good news to the poor and powerless everyday, here in Gainesville and around the world.
Regarding the articles other claim, the plurality of our religious traditions (as well as our politics) is a testimony to our own human weakness and selfishness, not God's design. God did not create religion. Religion is simply our imperfect, human response to the grace that constantly draws us toward God. Jesus prayed that we "all be one," and I still look for that day.
Ultimately, not eternal life, but oneness with God and others is the goal of true religion. Eternal life is simply a byproduct of that oneness and love, as are acts of generosity and justice. For me personally, that oneness is experienced religiously and most fully in and through Jesus and his church.
Many bad things have been done in the name of religion, but you don't throw away real money just because some money is counterfeit.