The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday September 25th

Change, religion are often at odds

In the society we live in, change is a constant. The need to adapt, adjust and reevaluate is ever-present.

Organizations that survive are continually broadening their view of the world and expanding their mind to new possibilities.

However, there is a large exception: religion.

Today, the view of many theists is that to succeed in this changing culture, they must remain unchanged. Any sort of deviation from age-old beliefs is seen as a compromise of faith. Religious groups that broaden their identification with society are scorned as having “watered down” their faith or deviating from the truth.

To the contrary of what many may think, this is not a unique problem.

During the mid-16th and early 17th centuries, the Catholic Church was faced with the question of heliocentrism. For hundreds of years it had been the Church’s staunch belief that the earth was the stationary center of the universe and that all other celestial bodies orbited around it.

But the scientific observations of Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei directly contradicted this religion-based belief and caused enormous uproar throughout many world religions, most notably Christianity. Despite the compelling evidence, the Catholic Church condemned the writings of Copernicus and Galilei as heresy and banned any further research.

Looking back on this event through the lens of modern day science, the Catholic Church will readily admit that its past rejection of this controversial theory was wrong. What seemed too radical or as a corruption of faith at the time turned out to be the complete opposite. The church now sees its old position as one of arrogance and not in keeping with its own teachings of humility before God’s creation.

The same type of struggle exists today in the form of evolution. But beyond the struggles between reconciling religion and science, there exists a messier social aspect.

For example, some would argue that a religious group reaching out to the LGBT community is a compromise of their beliefs. But they fail to see the difference between accepting an individual and agreeing with his actions. The religious groups that refuse to welcome those who are living contrary to their ideals reject the basic tenant of their faith.

The danger of becoming too accepting, too inclusive is real and the line between acceptance and compromise is often difficult to distinguish. But a religious group defined by authenticity and acceptance of all people as individuals does not have to accept all behaviors.

Indeed, many behaviors are rejected because they are perceived as unloving and harmful, such as alcoholism or drug abuse.

The Pit preachers provide us with a painful example of what can occur when unbending rules take the place of staying true to the core of one’s faith.

By their words and actions, the Pit preachers deny the God they claim to profess. They distort the image of a God of love with hateful rhetoric. Galileo, on the other hand, allowed new facts to enlighten his idea of God instead of his idea of God making him blind to new facts.

In the end the risk of compromise will always be outweighed by the rewards of restructuring religious practices around unbiased love.

Ryan Lee is a freshman journalism and English major from Lewisville. Contact Ryan at

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