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Father Alberto Cutié Headshot

The Religion of Fear is Growing

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Prepare your luggage because according to a pastor that hosts a popular program on a Christian radio station, on May 21, 2011 the world as you know it will end. Once again, the world is ending!

I say once again because these predictions that "the world is ending" on such and such a date, have been with us constantly throughout the 2,000 years of Christianity.

What is clear is that a new "religion of fear" is alive and seems to be picking up steam in our modern-day society. Although Jesus said many times "do not be afraid" and when asked about this specific issue replied: "No one knows the day, nor the hour," some still insist on trying to announce the final day and inspire fear in their followers. What surprises me most is that in the 21st century there are thousands of people on this religiously motivated train ride of despair. In the past few days we have heard sad stories of people who empty their lifetime savings accounts, are separated from their loved ones, leave their jobs and take other extreme and detrimental decisions motivated by the extremists who are propagating these apocalyptic messages we are all hearing these days.

I know that the world will end someday, but the Bible points to no specific date, nor should we spend valuable time trying to guess. What bothers me most is that it's sad when religion becomes a way of spreading fear and inciting destructive behavior in human beings. It is even sadder when that fear is the result of preaching by religious leaders -- whatever their denomination or religious tradition may be. Those who carry the message of the Gospel to the world must be instruments of hope, not fear, and certainly never propagators of religious fanaticism, especially in a society that already suffers from an abundance of sensationalism and religious extremes.

True and genuine religion always leads to peace, love and should ultimately lead us to use our God-given reason, allowing our faith to enlighten our intellect. Fear is always a bad adviser, especially on issues of faith, as our relationship with God should be guided and motivated by love -- and never fear. The "holy fear of God" that the Bible tells us about is not fear at all, but a recognition of God's greatness and our sense of awe before that greatness.

Whatever our belief, the church we belong to or the religious tradition from which we come, the truly important thing for those seeking a truly spiritual life is to live each day as if it were the last, offering our love to loved ones and neighbors and doing what we can to make our world a better place. The Day of Judgment is in God's hands and no one on this earth knows the day or the hour. Instead of spending our time on the fear that so often paralyzes us or trying to guess God's plans for humanity, let's just get ready for the day when we meet God face to face --because whenever it may come, only God knows!

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