The deadliest misconception in religion is that it harmonises faith and love with God as their common source. Love is among the four attributes of God: the rest being truth, justice and compassion. But, faith is the driving force of religion. Faith does not, however, inhere in God. Faith is a human attribute. It is the investment individuals make in God.This explains why custodians of religions exalt faith over love. Love is universal whereas faith is exclusive. For organised religion, what is exclusive is far more advantageous than what is universal. Each religion showcases its own unique brand of faith in God. But God is universal. So it comes about that the faith through which we relate to God violates the nature of God!God is love. Love, unlike faith, is universal. So, there cannot be different brands of love. We have Hindu faith, Muslim faith, Christian faith and so on, but we don’t have Hindu love, Christian love… This means that religions cannot thrive on their distinctiveness if they forego love. Religions overcome this problem by invoking faith. Love is nothing; faith is all. This is the source of the cruelties and irrationalities practised in the name of religion.They were all unleashed under the alibi of faith. The Crusades got underway in the wake of Pope Urban II’s stirring exhortation to liberate the Holy Land in the name of faith.All limits are removed from the practise of hate and murder when faith is conjoined with the idea of God drained of love. For faith to remain sane, it has to be governed by God as love. This means that God is insulted when lovelessness is practised in His name. In all aggressive religious enterprises from crusades to conversions, love is suppressed with faith. This makes killing, conquering, overpowering the ‘religious other’ a pious duty.It is faith, not love that disfigures the religious other into an inferior or dangerous category. To love, otherness does not exist; if it does, it exists as a source of enrichment. The religious other are neighbours. Faith, on the other hand, misapprehends and misrepresents neighbours as aliens and enemies. Faith wants to conquer the other. In contrast, love craves to be with. Through this ‘being with’ love discovers that what was mistaken to be dangerous and abhorrent is indeed part of the common limb of humanity. It is only when the religious outlook is illumined by the spiritual light of universal love that aphorisms like, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ and ‘Love your enemies’, can even be conceived.The foremost religious problem is that we have too much faith and too little love. As Jonathan Swift said: we have enough religion to make us hate each other, but not enough to help us love each other. The less love there is in a religious outfit, the more it absolutises faith. The more it does so, the more malignant and hypocritical it becomes. Religion sans universal love cannot help being diabolical.
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