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Pope, Brazil And Arrogance

By Mike Ghouse

23 May, 2007

Pope Benedict just visited Brazil and his comments have caused uproar when he said, “the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas. They had welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were "silently longing" for Christianity.” Satere Mawe, chief coordinator of the Amazon Indian group Coiab responded, “It’s arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs."

No one, religious or otherwise has room to guffaw. It is typical of every religious figure head to act and say something similar. I have encountered a very similar dialogue where a sense of superiority is conveyed by Hindu, Muslim and clergy of other faiths. It is their business to defend their ‘exclusive’ faith. In reality, no one owns any faith. Faiths are alternative ways of seeking the illusory peace of mind and relief from the misery. Zarthustra, Buddha, Mahavira, Krishna, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Nanak, Baha’u’llah, Joseph Smith or Confucius did not intend to create their own brand of people. Their message was for the whole of mankind and their mission was not to create one group versus the other.

The bottom line is whether it is the Pope or religious figure head of any faith, he or she is human first; temptations on one hand that give pleasure instantly but bring misery later on, and striving to not be tempted and walk the moderate path on the other hand.

My daughter shared her thoughts with me a few years ago, that it becomes obligatory on the part of clergy to say that their faith is better, philosophical, spiritual, comprehensive, and older or some such word to communicate superiority over the other. That is baloney, no faith is superior or inferior to the other, each stands on its own merit and value for the believer ”Dad if the minister were to say, all faiths are beautiful and salvation is available to all individuals through their own system, then the congregation will dwindle and business will go down." This is coming from my Baptist daughter in response to my asking her to ignore the sermon of the minister, if it involves any hate towards any other being or other religion, as the minister would be contradicting the love and universal teachings of Jesus Christ.

This same scenario is applicable with the presumed care takers or guardians of all religions with a few exceptions. The religious leaders assume that their job is to defend their faith, thus creating a sense of confinement rather than freedom.

The purpose of religion (if you momentarily take the divinity 0ut of it) is to help an individual find comfort and safety from his fears, unknowns, conflicts and myths. God, through different religions has laid out the formula to walk that path.

There are a few out there who sincerely believe, that all paths lead to making one a better human, who is at peace, and causes peace and safety for his surroundings comprising life and matter. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

I believe arrogance and spirituality are inversely proportional to each other; all religions begin with bowing or prostrating rituals, the first step to bring humility. Humility brings people together and arrogance brings conflicts, wars and disruption.

You are welcome to attend the workshop on Pluralism at 4:00 Pm on 4th Sunday of the month followed by workshop on religion –

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his blogs: and . He can be reached at Mike lives in Carrollton with his family and has been a Dallasite since 1980.

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