A lot of religionists would like to believe that while people occasionally have struggles with their faith, they always return to God. It’s not so, as this reporter for the Fish Wrapper describes in a moving and deeply personal story of what must have been a painful series of episodes for himself and his family. Basically, confronting the evil that people do in the name of God illustrated for this reporter that the spirit of God, the spirit of doing good things, was absent from the religious activities he had worked so hard to earn the ability to cover as his beat. It’s worth noting that he describes resisting that idea for a long time and that he approached his job as a religion reporter with great enthusiasm for the subject as a positive thing for people, and as a born-again Christian hoping to use his reporting beat to spread the word, and later to push clerical leaders towards reforming their bad behavior.
By offering the link, I’m not suggesting that religion causes bad behavior. I want to be quick to point out that “correlation” and “cause” are not the same thing. And I don’t think that the reporter suggests that religion causes bad behavior, either – but he does suggest that religion is used with some regularity to conceal or justify bad behavior when it happens.
Also, I’m also aware that “religion” – defined as some combination of the elements of ritual, periodic group meetings, repetitive recital of prayers or repetitive study of ancient texts, and veneration of particular objects or people – is not quite the same thing as “faith.” And the objection here is to religion rather than faith – but it is an important demonstration of how closely the two are tied together that a man such as this, who sees evil done by religion, could lose his faith along with losing his religion.