Since I was little, I have grown up blessing candles on Friday nights every week before I could even reach the counter. Saturday mornings at synagogue are a part of my weekly routine and I say a little prayer every night before I go to sleep.
I guess you could say that through growing up with religion, many of my values stem from it. Be respectful to others, listen to your parents: they are morals that most rational people with or without religion have. However, religious teachings also link with something else. Religion has a direct link to G-d and the supernatural world.
When I first heard about “religious humanism”, the idea seemed counterintuitive to me. How can a perspective on life which stresses the prime importance of humans rather than the importance of a divine power, be connected with religion, whose main objective is to honor and glorify G-d through spirituality and be devoted to his supreme power in the universe? (Nauert 5-10).
So, I did some investigation. While these sound like opposites, they actually share many of the same foundations. In Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century, the author William Murry writes:
religious humanism emphasizes the importance of communities that affirm, support, and encourage these values through preaching, teaching, caring for one another, and celebrating life’s passages together. (Murry 1-3)
The difference between secular humanism and religious humanism seems to be that while they both believe in human potential and importance, religious humanism also focuses on their spirituality, spreading these ideas, and teaching them to their community and other communities.
So what about G-d? Religious humanists do not believe in G-d (Murry 1-3), but they focus a lot on spiritual growth unlike secular humanists. Without a belief in G-d, I think that the “religious” aspect of religious humanists is a belief that you can use spirituality as a way of finding yourself and connecting to a deeper part of who you are: all of your innermost thoughts and emotions rather than connecting yourself with a divine power.
Personally, I have a spiritual connection with G-d, but I believe that there are many ways to understand your spirituality, and whether that is through G-d or your own power is a personal choice.
Murry, William. Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2007. 1-3. Web.
Nauert, Charles. Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe. Cambridge University Press, 2006. 5-10. Web.
N.d. Painting. MEFS Morris Evangelical Free Church; http://www.mefc.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96&Itemid=104
N.d. Infographic. Archdiocese of Washington; http://blog.adw.org/2010/12/wheres-the-human-in-humanism-humanist-ads-violate-their-own-humanist-standards/
Religion. N.d. Graphic. LaGuardia Community College; http://www.eportfolio.lagcc.cuny.edu/scholars/doc_fa07/rezwana.islam/images/Religion.gif