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By Carl S ~

We often hear of the “faithful,” but what does that designation mean? Isn't it just another word for something we're supposed to respect, a word everyone takes for granted we understand? Each December, what should be our neutral-regarding-religion media let flow a torrent of entertainment saturated with Christian propaganda. Secular programming and motion pictures frequently include hymns such as, “O come all ye faithful.” Who are the faithful?

Depending on which cleric you ask, the faithful are those who follow the gospel teachings of Jesus, the dogmas of a particular church, Mohammed, the visions of Joseph Smith, the interpretation of “Christ” by the apostle Paul, etc., etc., “faithfully.” (They won't, but we must include Jim Jones, Buddha, and televangelists.) The faithful stick with what they believe in, no matter what. Let's see when actions speak louder than attestations. Are they faithful?

Does being faithful have anything to do with virtue or morality? It depends. If we think about fidelity to the perpetrators of the Inquisition, of the oath of obedience to Hitler, the patriotism of “my country, right or wrong,” or of absolute dedication to cult leaders, we have our answer.

The themes of loyalty and betrayal dominate the novels of author John LeCarre', and with good reason: they are fascinating. Without the betrayal by Judas, according to Catholic doctrine, there would be no redemption. Here is a case of a man being faithful to his mission.

The word “faithful” is commonly used in reference to a sexual relationship. One might say it's a morally ambiguous one, since there has to be an agreement between the parties involved as to what is meant by “faithful” to begin with. Some couples have open marriages; in others, it's understood there will be other lovers at times. The wife of Aldous Huxley allowed his affairs with young women, to, she said, enhance his creativity. The marriage between actress Patricia Neal and Raoul Dahl (the Willy Wonka author), became the subject of a scandal when it was revealed he had an affair while Patricia was recovering from a major stroke. Although he was a major contributor to her recovery due to his persistence, we can doubt the public forgave him. And yet it's understandable how a man would rationalize he shouldn't put his needs aside and deny pleasure to himself and another because his spouse is incapacitated. (By the way, I and my male friends would not accept this)

ISIS and Islamic terrorists are faithful, as were those who murdered and tortured for their Christian faiths.Are most married Christians faithful to their spouses? What of married pastors, who preach fidelity to marriage vows? After all, in the presence of their church community, they do promise to “forsake all others.” Do the followers of Jesus forsake family to follow him, as he told them to? Do they sell all they have and give the proceeds to the poor to faithfully follow him? They tell us the same Jesus said, “He who looks upon another woman with lust commits adultery in his heart.” There are millions of Christian men and clerics of all faiths who are watching internet porn right now. Ergo, according to Jesus, aren't they unfaithful to their spouses? Aren't most of the faithful not following their “inerrant” bible commands whenever they cheat, assault and kill, their fellow believers? Don't Roman Catholics practice birth control and even have abortions, thereby being unfaithful to their church's teachings? Aren't most believers faithful to one all-encompassing belief: that their God will forgive anything they do, no matter how evil it is?

So, what of “the faithful?” When clerics of every religion speak of their “faithful,” don't they mean their “dependables?” (Aren't the faithful themselves depending on the cleric’s sermons and songs being entertaining?) Surely, they're regular attendees and contributors to their houses of worship money-baskets? They are the ones who can be counted on to show up to pretend to believe, and counted on to believe themselves virtuous in pretending. Aye, aren't they the same ones who can be counted on to vote for politicians and policies the clerics prefer? The faithful can be depended on to defend clerics and other spokesmen of their god, when they've committed adultery, child molestation, or any other crimes. And the faithful will faithfully, like their god, always forgive.

The next time you hear the song, “Oh come all ye faithful,” think about these things. Realize that ISIS and Islamic terrorists are faithful, as were those who murdered and tortured for their Christian faiths. They were/are, also, “joyful and triumphant” in doing so. Never regret divorcing yourself from religious beliefs. Doing so isn't betrayal, but saving yourself from a destructive marriage.