I’m tired of professed Christians preaching a Jesus that they seem to have no interest at all in emulating; of religious people being a loud, loveless noise in the world while claiming to speak for a God who is supposedly love.
I know the world is tired of such people.
I’m fairly certain that God is too.
I’m starting a new church: the Church of Not Being Horrible.
Our mission statement is simply this—Don’t be horrible to people:
Don’t treat them as less worthy of love, respect, dignity, joy, and opportunity than you are.
Don’t create caricatures out of them based on their skin color, their religion, their sexual orientation, the amount of money they have, the circumstances they find themselves in.
Don’t seek to take away things from them that you already enjoy in abundance: civil rights, clean water, education, marriage, access to healthcare.
Don’t tell someone’s story for them about why they are poor, depressed, addicted, victimized, alone. Let them tell their story and believe they know it better than you do.
Don’t imagine that your experience of the world is everyone’s experience of the world; that the ease, comfort, support, affection you have received are universal.
Don’t be preoccupied with how someone experiences God, how they define family, who they love. Cultivate your faith, family, and marriage alone.
The central question at any given moment in the church is: Am I being horrible right now? If one concludes that they are, they endeavor to not do so. If they are unsure, they allow other people to help them see their horrible blind spots of privilege, prejudice, and ignorance—and then they respond.
In other words, our sacred calling is to be decent, to be kind, to be compassionate, to be whatever it is that we believe the world is lacking: to be the kind of person the world needs—and it definitely needs people being less horrible these days.
The Church of Not Being Horrible will gather every week to celebrate the inherent goodness of people. We’ll share stories of the ways we succeeded in being less than horrible to our families, coworkers, and strangers, and we’ll challenge ourselves to be even less horrible in the coming week. We’ll do this faithfully, repeatedly, and passionately, and hopefully we’ll begin to watch the world around us gradually become less angry, less bitter, less painful—less horrible.
I’m not sure such religion will catch on, as being horrible seems to be trending these days among religious people but I think it’s worth a shot. I think it might alter the homes, marriages, and communities we’re living in, if not the planet we’re standing on. It might renovate our very hearts, themselves so prone to being horrible. It might help us become the best version of ourselves that we are able to be.
If you’re interested in joining the church, you don’t need to pray a magic prayer. You don’t have to attend a membership class or recite any creeds or take a test or promise to give financially. There are no theological or bureaucratic hoops to jump through.
There is no conversion, there is only commencement. You simply begin, right where you are, in this very moment—seeking to be less horrible to the people you live with, work with, come across in the street, interact with online, see from a distance. That’s it.
It may seem like a low bar to set, but it’s actually a beautiful aspiration: making the world less cruel, less violent, less insulting—less horrible.
If you feel like that might be a religion worthy of your days: let’s have some church, friends.