by Nick Baez
Across the globe, the belief in some form of a Supreme Being is closely tied to both ethnic and national identification. Latinos are no different, and religious identity within the Latino community widely ranges from “atheist” to “devout (insert denomination here).” Ask almost anyone what it means to be Latino, however, and a significant majority of responses will include the words “faith,” “religious belief,” and/or “a deep relationship with God.”
Quite often, the perception of a deep relationship with God motivates individuals to make the world a better place for those who inhabit it. However, there are also a significant number of counterintuitive consequences that can arise out of such a perception. Ironically, perceiving a close relationship with God can also lead many individuals to not only vote against their own best interests (and the interests of society), but it can also lead individuals to support those very measures that cause profound injustice and suffering, as well as those policy makers who perpetuate such injustices.
Objectively, belief in a Supreme Being implies belief in something which is greater than anything we can experience. Therefore, our very perceptions of a Supreme Being should be limited, since by its underlying definition, a Supreme Being is beyond anything we can possibly imagine or comprehend. But, as is typically the case with human nature, we tend to not handle the abstract very well. As a result, in a quest for a greater understanding of something with which we feel a close connection, we tend to “humanize” such a Supreme Being. What results is, simply put, an anthropomorphic representation of God…a God which is made in the image of a human being.
However, this type of representation carries with it other implications. When God is perceived in such an anthropomorphic manner, what can result is the representation of a God who experiences all of the very fallible human emotions: a God who can be happy; a God who gets sad (or is made to be sad); a God who can love; a God who can hate; a God who can punish those who do not believe; a God who can hold a grudge; a God who can favor one country or form of government over another; and a God who has preordained a select “chosen” segment of society. This representation of God is used countless times to justify blind allegiance to a particular political party or agenda; to justify marginalization of those perceived as “different,” and to vilify those who are less fortunate, under the premise that these individuals simply did not have “enough faith.” Furthermore, politicians and religious leaders have historically purported to know the true will of God to justify the perpetuation of injustice against those who are deemed as acting “willfully against His plan.”
This piece is not meant to be an appeal to atheism, nor is it intended to single out one particular denomination over another. Rather, this piece should serve as an indictment against blind allegiance to dogmatic thought, irrespective of religious affiliation. Such blind allegiance gets us nowhere as a society; it is counterproductive to progress, it causes tangible pain and suffering, and it creates deep divides amongst those who can more effectively utilize their talents to add wealth and equity to this world.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.