On last Sunday's show, Matt and I got into it with one caller where we ended up pointing out, repeatedly, that religion is no less selfish than any other human activity. Certainly there is altruism in the things many people do. But altruism is usually understood as doing good for others without expectation of reward or personal benefit. And you don't find this activity in religious environments, with few exceptions. People pretty much practice whatever religion they subscribe to because they want something. You hear this admitted plainly by Christians who try to argue that God is necessary for morality. "If there were no God," they say, "I'd just go out and do whatever, kill people, who cares?" In other words, if there's no reward awaiting them for good behavior, why be good? Selfishness in its most childish form.
In the case of religion as an institution, it always wants something. And that something is more converts.
We see this no more plainly than in the case of religious charities. These little exercises are certainly undertaken due to the self-interest of the sponsors, regardless of what they may say. They're eager to be picking up brownie points with God, racking up a good Heavenly credit rating. And they get to show off how pious they are for the public, which, hopefully, will be good for business. I suppose that's a small kind of selfishness, and not in and of itself worthy of criticism.
Thing is, some churches take it a little too far. Case in point: the First Reformed Church of Hackensack, NJ. I'm not sure what they're claiming to be "reformed" from, but after this little embarrassment, some reform will surely be necessary.
Seems this church was litting a charity not directly affiliated with them, the FAITH Foundation, use their facilities for a Christmas dinner for about 100 homeless people. The church laid down a rule that homeless attendees first had to be subjected to prayers and a sermon in short, a full scale church service prior to being fed. In short: sales pitch first, then food.
The shelter's own director, Robin Reilly, realizing most of the attendees hadn't eaten a thing in more than 24 hours, went ahead and served dinner without the required god-bothering. Result: the church kicked her out. No Jesus, no food, is the rule at the First Reformed Church, evidently. Perhaps what they've been "reformed" from is basic human decency.
Robin Reilly did the right thing, and she's clearly one of the rare exceptions in an entire religious "charity" industry that's really all about targeting the most vulnerable people in our culture as easy converts. She's apparently had trouble before, failing to get the right permits and that sort of thing. But overall she's clearly a person who wants to help those who need help. Apparently the True Christians at the First Reformed Church have a difference of opinion concerning the idea that the Christmas season is all about the spirit of giving, the milk of human kindness, and all that hippie crap. Nope, Jesus is the reason for the season, and you better drop to your miserable knees now and realize that fact, you homeless piece of shit. Hell, you're practically falling down from starvation already, so it ought to be easy for you, right? And if not, well, hell, why don't you just get a job?