Test of a Healthy Religion

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]