In a number of Western
countries today only a small portion of the population attends any
church on a regular basis. Even if many people may still allow
themselves to be called Christians, the designation is often nominal
at best, and it is very difficult to find a person who could be
called pious in the orthodox sense. In fact, for many people in the
West religion is a regressive word and church is synonymous with
boredom or oppression. We can no longer believe that only one
religion is true. Some of us may doubt whether any religion is true.
Asia is following a
similar movement. The younger generation is more interested in the
pop culture imported from the West than in its own traditional
religious or spiritual culture. The educated elite is proud of its
modern, scientific, and humanitarian views which often criticize or
denigrate their traditional religious backgrounds.
In this age of open
communication and critical scrutiny we have become painfully aware
of the limitations of organized religion and its herding of people
into hostile camps. We have come to recognize that behind the
rhetoric of God and religion is often political, economic or sexual
exploitation - not an enlightened or humanitarian force, but one of
darkness and oppression. Compared to such divisive creeds, science
and humanitarianism, even of an atheistic bent, appears more
compassionate and enlightened.