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The Responsibility of Religious Leaders

Many religious leaders have educated themselves a good deal in the history of their religion. I find that the more people learn about religion the less literal they take their holy books. However, there is a divide between the intellectual religious leaders and the common practitioners.

What I mean here is that many religious leaders know that commonly held aspects of their belief system are simply false and yet they allow those false beliefs to continue unchecked in their practitioners.

Back in the day, it was common for religious leaders to hide knowledge and even their holy book from their “flock.” Today, we think that since everyone has access to holy books, that there is more transparency. This is true of course, but that doesn’t mean that religious leaders don’t keep some knowledge on the “down low” from their faithful flock.

The view has always been that common people are too stupid to understand the nuance and only the religious leaders are smart enough to be trusted with the truth. There is also of course the fear that if the truth got out, some people would leave the flock.

I think religious leaders have a responsibility to be honest to their flock and to those who respect their opinions. Here are a few examples of what I mean. Within Christianity, it is widely known by Christian scholars that the Gospels were not contemporary accounts and were not written by Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. But you will rarely hear a Christian leader comment on this to the common believers.

Similarly, it is widely known by Jewish scholars that the Exodus never happened. But again, you will rarely hear a Rabbi talk about this to the flock or those who respect his or her opinion.

In order to get these religious leaders to talk about these things, one usually has to call them out on it. In some cases, a religious leader might have written an academic paper or an article on the point, but in their every day communications they fail to call attention to it and they fail to correct the record when a believer believes the falsehood. To me this amounts to a lie of omission.




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  • Jim T

    I took a course in New Testament at college in the 70′s. They discussed the then current view of historical and textual criticism. It took me two weeks to become essentially agnostic.

    It wasn’t until 9/11 that I realized the real dangers of religion to our societies.

  • skm9

    Some of these things are becoming common knowledge. Several popular bible translations (including the NIV) now say on the first page of the gospels when they were written and give some historical background as to speculation on the authors.

  • dlevitt

    Truth! They can’t handle the truth! God.