In this moment I look at both the history and current “loud” voices we seem to be hearing the most and I must say that, for the most part, religion has and is not a particularly good voice in the world.
When we get away from the loud voices and focus on ministries that do not teach separation and dividedness, then it (religious leaders) can be a resounding voice for good. One person that comes to mind is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was a devout Christian, to be sure, but invited anyone who wished to stand with him in nonviolent work. He had a number of college students from the Jewish community who worked with him and he never required them to denounce their faith in order to be a part of his organization and/or demonstrations. I don’t remember him requiring any kind of religious affiliation for the people that supported his work. Nor in any of the books on Gandhi was there mention of a religious requirement for joining the work he was doing, yet he was a profoundly spiritual being.
When religion or religious leaders are able to go beyond the boundaries of their own teaching, there is the possibility for them to be a voice for good in the world; to the extent they teach separation and dismiss the human rights of another they are, in fact, practicing one of the most horrendous forms of bigotry and racism.
The Rev. Joe Niemiec Jr. began his spiritual quest in 1986 when he walked out of a Houston jail and was struck by the realization that his life was in shambles.
He began his quest for ‘getting back on track’ with 12 step programs, followed by learning and practicing meditation with a local Redding, California, teacher.