Sunday, 10 May 2009

Changing Religions

It seems that many people are now "changing religions." See, for more details,

The real question is, though: what does it mean? We are told that Yitro went through every religion in his world before he found Torah. That, though, was because he was in search of the truth. Is the truth also what all these people changing their religion searching for? Or is it something else? And then what is it that they are looking for? And is their goal a good one or not?

There are people who may argue that change reflects instability. There are those who would argue that it actually reflects a dynamic personality. The point is that the phenomena of changing religion is not as isolated as one might think. The question, though, is what does it all mean?

Getting closer to home, how much does this national phenomena impact on the movement of individuals both into Orthodoxy and out of Orthodoxy? When I read this article, I wondered what it meant -- but not in terms of the general community but regarding phenomena that we face in the Jewish world.

Rabbi Ben Hecht


Joseph said...

It means that if we would've had our act together, many would've joined us in these trying times. But since we're not running a 'Membership campaign' (unlike our two imposter 'friends'), we just dodged a bullet.

Got that? ;)

Dr Mike said...

Years and years ago (I was still living at home, my God that's a long time ago now, isn't it?) I read an article in the "Religion" section of the local paper which had an article by a girl who was describing how she was having trouble finding a church to go to. She had been raised nominally Roman Catholic but felt that RC values were not her values and had therefore embarked on a search for a church that would match her values.
And it struck me: if God is an independent objective being with a defined set of values and morals, then how can different churchs (or religions for that matter) go around and claim to all be worshipping the same God? If He's against abortion, you can't really say you worship Him if you think it's okay. If He's against homosexual intercourse, then a gay church is an oxymoron.
But it's not Him people are worshipping. It's themselves. This girl had already decided on what her values were and had decided that her "god" was the one that agreed with her on all these things.
And that essentially explains why most people change religions, because they want God to conform to their values while in truth we must conform to His.

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

Dr Mike raises the challenge of an interesting paradox in any moral or religious movement. While the truth must be the final arbiter of what is correct, the question is how people adopt the movement that leads to a fuller analysis of the truth. This actually arises from issues that we have from our personal moral perspectives. A person views a certain behaviour performed by a person of a certain faith. The person has problems with this behaviour. This leads the person to question the faith of the person who exhibiited this behaviour leading to the observet considering other faiths who preach a different value system and thus a subsequent behaviour. Is this necessariy wrong? If the person did not have a personal value perspective but simply adopted the value system of this original faith that would be the end of any movement. Is that always the best solution? Of course not. But is this person not doing what Dr. Mike is critiquing -- setting himself/herself as the final arbiter of morality?

Perhaps this must only be the first stage. The one must consider what is the truth -- otherwise even the moral perspective adopted is ultimately just self-serving>

Rabbi Ben Hecht

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