Another conundrum: Religion is more about ancestry than about any true faith

This news item caught my eye:

BBCWhat happened when an anti-Semite found he was Jewish?

Three years ago, a Hungarian far-right politician with a strong line in anti-Semitism discovered that he was Jewish. He left his party, and set out on a remarkable personal journey to learn and practise his Jewish faith. …. 

As deputy leader of the radical nationalist Jobbik party in Hungary, (Csanad) Szegedi co-founded the Hungarian Guard – a paramilitary formation which marched in uniform through Roma neighbourhoods.

And he blamed the Jews, as well as the Roma, for the ills of Hungarian society – until he found out that he himself was one. After several months of hesitation, during which the party leader even considered keeping him as the party’s “tame Jew” as a riposte to accusations of anti-Semitism, he walked out. ……

Not a man to do things in half-measures, he has now become an Orthodox Jew, has visited Israel, and the concentration camp at Auschwitz which his own grandmother survived.

He found out about his ancestry and then set out to “learn his faith”!

Is “faith” really something which can be learned?

“Faith” is necessary. It is necessary because there are questions which I cannot answer for lack of evidence or lack of knowledge and where I resort to “faith” to provide me with an answer. But they have to be my answers. By definition “faith” is then about matters which cannot be proven. Since “faith” or “belief” are required only when there is no knowledge or no evidence, I would think that “faith” cannot ever be “learned”. It can only be generated internally by the exercise of a mind or it must be imposed.

There is something very perplexing here. The vast majority of children, of course are brainwashed/indoctrinated by their parents into a religion. Any religion which did not permit the brainwashing of its members’ children could not survive. “Faith” is not contained within our genes. Religion is not naturally hereditary – except that we make it so. Children are not born with any “faith”, it is pounded into them. And most Christians, Muslims or Hindus are Christians, Muslims or Hindus only because their parents were. And what their parents have as “faith” was, in turn,  pounded into them. Most people therefore, who claim to follow some “faith” or “religion” do so because that faith or religion was imposed upon them by their ancestry – not because they used their minds to decide what they believed to be true.

For Csanad Szegedi at least “faith” clearly is dependent upon and follows ancestry.  (Of course some of his even more distant ancestors probably followed shamanism). His “learning” is now nothing more than getting others to tell him what his “faith” should be or figuring it out himself – but only consequent to his ancestry. He is learning what his “faith” should be according to others – not what it is. It may be more self-imposed than imposed, but it remains something external now being imprinted upon him. But a copy is a copy is a copy. It is never the original.

So what we loosely call the  “freedom of religion” is little more than the freedom to have a “faith” imposed upon us and to then impose our imported beliefs, in turn, onto our children. What we believe depends on who our parents are (or grandparents were in the case of Szegedi).

An imposed belief is not something which is generated by an individual by the exercise of his own mind. It seems to me intrinsically impossible for any imposed belief to be considered a “true faith”. Religions and faiths are propagated less by discussion and overwhelmingly by mere dissemination of the beliefs of authority (prophets, disciples, sages, authors and other “enlightened” folk) to the masses. To believe something only because someone else does, seems a poor qualification for a “true belief”.

And so my respect for any person’s “beliefs” evaporates when I learn that they are not their own true beliefs, but those of others which have been imposed upon them. And my opinion of Szegedi’s sudden conversion to Judaism based on his ancestry is not very high. I see damage control and I see opportunism but I see no “true faith”.

 

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One Response to “Another conundrum: Religion is more about ancestry than about any true faith”

  1. Emily López Says:

    A M E N. If we were born in the bible belt we are most likely Christian; in China, Buddhist; in Iraq, Islamic; etc etc.

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