Can conditioning affect religious doctrines?

Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.-Pope Francis

Recently Pope Francis made comments criticizing “trickle-down economics” and the wealthy disparity around the world. Pope Francis’ condemnation of the “idolatry of money” has drawn harsh criticism from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and the rest of the conservative right. This isn’t surprising to me that the right would have something bad to say about the Pope.

Like many of the people I follow on social media, I’ve been very impressed with the Pope thus far. As I stated earlier his stance on wealthy disparity mirrors my own but his acts of public kindness and gestures are not like those I’ve witnessed from other Popes. From embracing a severely disfigured man to washing the feet of convicts to choosing to wear simple papal regalia and living in a guest house at the Vatican I love the choices that Pope Francis has made in his short time as the Pope.

This led me to a series of thoughts. I was raised in a Methodist type church (C&S Nigerian church to be exact) with specific values, standards and ethics. These values that were taught to me were taught to my parents and their parents before them. I’m going to marry a woman of the same faith as me and we’ll teach our children these same principles. So what ideologies would I hold today if I wasn’t conditioned by my parents and to a larger extent by my church as a youth?

Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are non-believers, from the bottom of my heart I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.-Pope Francis

There are certain doctrines that I have the utmost certainty that I would still possess regardless of what type of church I was raised in.  I know killing is wrong and under extreme circumstances I couldn’t see myself taking another life. Loving my neighbor as I love myself and honoring my mother and father are other principles that I believe are found across various religions.

I’m entirely sure that if I weren’t Christian I would still uphold these principles. I wonder if I was raised on a deserted island and reemerged into society without any prior influence or knowledge of organized religion which one I would follow if any at all.

If my first exposure to Catholicism were Pope Francis what would I favor being Catholic? If I first learned of it was priests and inappropriate contact with young boys how would I feel then?

Would I lean towards Christianity if I observed the charity and compassion or would I hate the hypocrisy Christians tend to portray and how it’s been used to justify slavery?

Would I fall victim to stereotypes linking Islam to terrorism? Or would I admire the discipline and intellectuality of the religion?

Could it be possible that I would rebuke all organized religion?


5 thoughts on “Can conditioning affect religious doctrines?

  1. That Damn African

    “I wonder if I was raised on a deserted island and reemerged into society without any prior influence or knowledge of organized religion which one I would follow if any at all.”

    I’ve thought about this too. My upbringing and what I was exposed to have a lot to do with the religion I follow. Like you, I’d like to think that I would follow some of the same principles I’ve learned about through Christianity, but would I have been a disciple of Christ if I had a different upbringing? Hard to say.

  2. Seeomara

    Definitely, enjoyed this blog post. I have been asking myself the same question lately, in terms of the particular denomination I was raised in. I am always wondering am I too confined to religion and not open about God and spirituality? Has my denomination molded me or has God’s love shaped my heart and my denomination is the frosting on top.


  3. Gem

    things that make you go hmmmm!!!!

    first, i dont follow issues concerning the Pope much (as im not Catholic and i usually cant fux with the Pomp and Circumstance of the office). but Pope Francis is that dude. he embodies what i believe is truly Christ’s message – loving and showing compassion. the materials dont matter.

    idk how id view the world if i were born into isolation (a desert island) but i do think id still find my way to God one way or another. i was raised by parents who were raised in the church, but i was never forced to go to church or to believe in God/Christ, for that matter. i grew up around believers and found my love of God and the church on my own in many ways. despite all the outrageous things i see in religion, im still attracted to the good. i still feel the presence of God even in the midst of wayward/radical believers. so i think to some degree, we all eventually would find God if that is His purpose for us.

  4. Kirtley writes

    Neither Catholic nor Christian; fan of Pope Francis. Reminds me of Mother Teresa. Given up trying to find absolutes. Organize religion is flawed. Think this man can do some good to bring about some balance in the world. Imagine what is possible if we – significant percentage – were to commit harder to economic freedoms.

  5. Kopa

    I come from a country which is highly developed and where there is next to no real poverty. Here approx. 2% of the population go to church on a regular basis. If even that. An additional 10% or so is in some way active members of some organized religion.

    This doesn’t translate to only 12% of the people believing in God. But when you’re not raised into any religion, only very few will choose any church when they grow up. They may believe in God or whatever other entity, but they don’t see the point in joining an organization that takes money from you and tries to dictate how you’re supposed to live, “in the name of God”. In short, if you grew up in an isolated island, I don’t think you would choose any organized religion. The only way you would be drawn to that would be if you had big obstacles in your life which you couldn’t overcome. That’s why so many Black people have such strong faith, because it comes from the days of slavery, when religion and faith was the only way they could see out of a bad situation. When you take that struggle out, there is no need for God. When there is no need for God and your parents don’t offer God to you as a solution, only people who have actual faith in their heart will still believe. Others become agnostics or atheists.


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