I would start this article by mentioning a news story that appeared in 2003 in TheSacramentoBee: “It used to be said that once a Methodist, always a Methodist. Not anymore.” Dexter McNamara, director of the Interfaith Service Bureau in Sacramento said that “denominational ties are less important to people now … People are much more willing to try different churches.” So what would you look for in your quest for a religion? Music, style of worship, length of service, youth programs, congregation size, distance from home. Allan Carlson, director of the Howard Center on Family, Religion and Society, put it this way: “It’s a supermarket out there. In 1950, 85 percent of adults were the same denomination as their parents,” but now “they have a lot of other choices.”
So, has religion become only a matter of choice? Yes and this is how it should be for man is endowed with free will. Man can choose how to worship God. And this problem guides to a sincere and right question: “What is the right way to worship God?” Is there an answer? Francis Bacon, a 17th-century English philosopher, essayist, jurist, and statesman, advised searchers for truth “to weigh and consider.” And an early U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, said: “Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. . . . They are the natural enemies of error.” So if we are genuinely searching for truth, we will “weigh and consider” and pursue “reason and free inquiry.”
Identifying why such an approach is vital, British scientist Sir Hermann Bondi noted: “Since at most one faith can be true, it follows that human beings are extremely liable to believe firmly and honestly in something untrue in the field of revealed religion. One would have expected this obvious fact to lead to some humility, to some thought that however deep one’s faith, one may conceivably be mistaken.”
Let’s take an example: Until he was eight years old, Pedro worshiped Maleiwa, supposed creator of man and maker of the earth. He was afraid of Yoluj, said to be the harbinger of all evil and disease, and he sought to avoid the malevolent designs of Pulowi, alleged goddess of the underworld.
Pedro was a Guajiro, one of the many Indian tribes of Venezuela. He followed the traditional religion of his ancestors until one day the local schoolteacher arranged for him to be baptized-as a Catholic.
“Nobody consulted me, and I knew nothing about my new religion,” Pedro explained. “But I realized that it would not be difficult to adopt this new faith, which required no significant changes in my daily conduct. I was faithful to my new religion, as I always went to Mass sometime in December.”
Despite belonging to two different religions, Pedro had not made a conscious choice in either case. The choice was made for him by others. His experience has been repeated countless times over the centuries. In fact, relatively few of the five billion people alive today have made a deliberate choice in the matter of religion. Their religion is usually something that was inherited, much like their appearance, their traits, or the home where they live.Will you have the courage not to let anyone to choose a religion for you? Don’t forget what the Scripture says: ‘Choose for yourself whom you will worship.’-Joshua 24:15.