The leader of the FLDS sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, known as Mormons), Warren Jeffs, was sentenced to life in prison for having sex with underage girls. Yesterday evening (Aug. 13, 2011) CNN reported his misdeeds in some detail, describing how he misused his position as self-proclaimed “prophet” to have sex with young girls living in his compound. I believe there is an especially hot part of hell for such people.
Sadly, terrible actions on the part of some so-called religious types (see my earlier post on funeral demonstrations by the Westboro Baptist Church) reflect poorly on all religions and those who believe in God, worship regularly, and try to live out their faith. People tend to paint with a broad brush, and those who are hostile to religion are given one more excuse to condemn all religions and people of faith.
As I’ve said before, people who sin and commit crimes aren’t following the teachings of their religion and Scriptures, but are often using their religion as a means to an evil end. Islamic terrorists misuse their religion and go against the teachings of the Qur’an in killing innocent civilians. Christians (and Christian pretenders) who rip off people are using Christianity as a tool for profit. Cult leaders such as Jeffs invent their own religion (or create a distorted offshoot of an existing religion) to achieve their purposes at the expense of others.
I believe it was Karl Marx who said “Religion is the opiate of the people.” Certainly charismatic but misguided leaders are an opiate for gullible people who don’t have a firm foundation of orthodox Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. They either get sucked in to following a distorted version of an existing belief system or a cult created by a charismatic leader. How can this happen? Because they have a spiritual vacuum in their lives so that vacuum gets filled by lies, deceit, and distortions coming from a convincing leader.
My advice is not to condemn God, religion, or those who take their religious beliefs seriously, but look to your own religious tradition and get familiar with it. If you draw closer to God by reading the Scriptures and worshipping regularly, you will soon realize that all these transgressions done in the name of God or under the guise of some sort of religion are not in God’s will and go against the clear teachings of Scripture (whatever your tradition’s Scripture is). As you draw closer to God, you will know, love, and serve God, which is your purpose in life. Why else would God have created you?