Great blessings and great harms may emerge from religious teachings. How might one assess a religion’s value? Methodist minister Howard Clinebell suggested posing several questions. He asked whether the particular religious thought and practice:
- Builds bridges or barriers between people?
- Strengthens or weakens basic trust in the universe?
- Stimulates or hampers inner freedom and personal responsibility?
- Encourages a mature or immature dependency relationship with authority?
- Advocates well-defined, significant ethical guidelines or ethical trivia?
- Increases or lessens enjoyment of life?
- Values or deprecates people’s feelings?
- Helps people move from a sense of guilt to forgiveness?
- Inspires the acceptance or denial of reality?
- Encourages intellectual honesty with respect to doubts?
- Oversimplifies the human situation or faces its tangled complexity?
[SUUF Member Paul Friedman continues to provide weekly articles for publication in the Red Rock News. This article – or a variation thereof – appeared in the Mar 10, 2023 issue]