Friday, April 8, 2011

Obedience and Religion

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Obedience and Religion

In September 15 in Waco, Texas cult leader, David Koresh refused to submit to a government warrant. The members of the Branch Davidian, a sect that split away from the Seventh-Day Adventist church, had been excited into an anticipation of the end of the world. Following mostly the book of Revelations in the Bible, they focused on Armageddon and believed they would be a large part of it. They believed that the Branch Davidians would be the only ones to descend to heaven when God came. The obedience of this doomsday cult to the beliefs of Koresh, despite the warning signs, led to destruction and death of many members and their children. (Robinson, B. A., 15)

Obedience is the act of carrying out orders or conforming to certain beliefs. Being obedient is a very important part of religion. There are many different faiths and denominations that belong to religion. Followers of each religion possess different beliefs. There is a certain amount of unconditional obedience that comes with believing in a higher power, but individuals should approach this obedience with caution and critical thinking. There is a limit to how and when people should be obedient. People should allow their conscience to dictate. People have the capability to develop their own opinions and make their own decisions based upon their beliefs. Groups and peer pressure have a way of causing individuals to conform, therefore, it is important to make decisions as an individual. At the same time individuals should question what obedience means to them. When questioning obedience, individuals should use good moral judgment their conscience, and religious guidance

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before submitting themselves to an unconditional obedience. The conscience should be the deciding factor in a person’s decision to obey.

“What is dangerous is not belonging to a group, or groups, but not understanding the social laws that govern groups and govern us” (Lessing, 18, p. 07). We live in a world where most everyone belongs to some type of group or groups. The largest groups that people belong to are religious. As with most groups, religions have a form of guidance or an outline. The Bible is the Christian guidebook. The Qur’an is the Muslim or Islamic guide. By following a guide, we submit to our beliefs, as we perceive them. “When we’re in a group, we tend to think as that group does we may even have joined the group to find “like-minded” people. But we also find our thinking changing because we belong to a group” (Lessing, 18, p. 07). Often, people stray from what they truly believe and conform to the way of the majority for fear of standing alone. It is hard to rebel against peer pressure and power of authority but it is important that people learn to keep their individuality. The fear of independence makes a person submissive to an opinion or belief that is not their own, and by submitting to the ways of others they are not true to themselves or their religion.

Most people want the freedom to follow and practice their religion or beliefs, and to feel secure in doing so. But obedience must be questioned and evaluated before carrying out an act. When evaluating moral judgment, conscience, and religious guidance should be used as tools. There are questions that should be asked. For example, are the rights of others being infringed upon? Is the act in question what is clearly expected of me? Who will be affected by my actions and how? There is a presence of danger when a person is completely submissive without question. “When in the Turkish army, guys would be praying every night for war the next day

because we would go to heaven if we died, I told them, ‘You guys go, I am not ready.” (Lanlonde, R. 00, Marco Island Eagle) Someone might say that by being obedient to their religion they are protected. “My obedience makes me part of the power I worship, and hence I

feel strong.” (Fromm, 181, p. 6) Believing in something does not make it a fact, as individual’s people must distinguish between reality and their personal beliefs. The conscience is a very important factor to making decisions in any aspect. There can be a problem however, with using the conscience as a guide. There may be people who believe that certain things are right when in fact they are wrong. Distinguishing between right and wrong can be a hard thing to do considering that there are many different beliefs that go along with each religion as well as different moral views. “The dilemma inherent in submission to authority is ancient, as old as the story of Abraham, and the question of whether one should obey when commands conflict with conscience has been argued by Plato, dramatized in Antigone, and treated to philosophic analysis in almost every historical epoch. Conservative philosophers argue that the very fabric of society is threatened by disobedience, while humanists stress the primacy of the individual conscience.” (Milgram, 174, p. 17).

The Branch Davidians believed that they would be rewarded for the acts they carried out and beliefs that they followed. They submitted to the beliefs of David Koresh who used the Bible along with his own doctrine and information found in novels to brainwash his followers. The cult basically committed suicide and allowed their children to die at the same time, for what they believed was the right thing to do. In reality, there was no reward that resulted, only an atrocity.

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