When I think of the term "Religious Right," I'm transported into the Saturday Night Live skit, Coffee Talk. I imagine Barbra Streisand's character saying, with a syrupy thick New York accent: "Religious Right" is neither about religiousness nor righteousness. Discuss!"
The Christian Conservative movement, sadly, doesn't seem conservative or all that Christian. Any group that's extreme in its beliefs, exclusive, self-righteous, compassion-less and/or worships its own dogma rather than being led by the God it professes to believe in is offensive to the believer in me. If I've learned anything through the teachings of Jesus (the deity I choose to follow), it's that He believes in all of us. Not just some of us, but all of us. Jesus was the ultimate Includer. It's time for Spiritual Inclusionism: a movement dedicated to exercising God's love, compassion, kindness and all-inclusiveness whenever possible.
Unlike the complicated Catholic dogma of my childhood, the tenets of Spiritual Inclusionism are quite simple. Believe in any loving, peace-filled God of your choice, provided you aren't Him/Her/It. Mind your own business, and not anyone else's, realizing where your life ends and someone else's begins. Act in kindness, generosity and (I'm going to say it) love as often as you possibly can. Be of service to those around you whenever possible, provided you aren't neglecting yourself or harming anyone else in the process. Do not judge those around you, or live your life in drama. And if you make a mistake, admit it, ask forgiveness and move forward.
There are no membership fees or club dues, no blood oath, no birth certificates or socioeconomic standing necessary to be part of Spiritual Inclusionism. If you are black, white, blue, green or pink or anything combination of anything, you are welcome. If you are rich or barely making it, you are home. Male or female, you are 100 percent equal within the group. Yankee or rebel, Baptist or Buddhist, Catholic or Covenant, Jewish or Muslim, Cubs fan or not, you are welcome. If you want to judge those around you, telling them how to live their lives, you are welcome. However, if you don't have a desire to stop lording over others, it probably isn't the group for you.
You won't find a physical church or temple you must attend or tithe, as the world is our high holy place. We just try our best to do the right thing, wherever we might find ourselves, every chance we get. We believe in attracting new members by example, not by threatening hell, scaring them into submission or other such nonsense. We don't have a political action committee or a party or an agenda, nor do we allow anyone to use our name for political loss or gain.
There's no hierarchy, no governing body, no reason for anyone to be anything but humble. Our sole purpose is to find as much happiness as we can muster. We learned long ago that peace doesn't mean having a quiet heart when things are good, but being able to survive when the bad stuff hits the fan. We help each other, pray for ourselves and one another, and we lean on our Higher Life Force for patience, compassion, empathy, love, clarity, honesty and guidance.
The notion of sin, Original, mortal, grave or the run of the mill kind, doesn't exist in Spiritual Inclusionism. There's nothing we hold over you to ensure you're afraid enough to see it our way. Spiritual Inclusionism is all about self responsibility. You know when you've done something wrong if you're being thoroughly honest with yourself, and you will know when to make amends for your mistakes. It's not our job as members of SI to take your inventory. Instead, we encourage you to take your own, and try your best to be as close to your god as you can be.
We believe in human errors, and fully understand that, like no person is born into sin, no person is born into perfection. The relationship between our higher life force is as close or as distant as we choose to make it. And for our way of thinking, that all begins with honesty and accountability. The better we try to be as people, the more brutally honest we are with ourselves, the more we try to exercise kindness and love, the more peace we will find because the closer to our god we'll get. It's really that simple.
Spiritual Inclusionism is for everyone who wants a life filled with decency, respect, generosity, love, acceptance, kindness and community. Instead of exclusion and all of its destructive trappings, we look for footing on fear-less, equal, common ground.
Jesus wasn't above us, He was among us. You sure can learn a lot from that Guy.
Sarah O'Leary is a person who does not fear God, but welcomes Him. She is a licensed minister, author, and businesswoman. You can reach her via email: sarahathuffpo@gmail