Religion: Understanding Fear – Morgan Hill Times

Our world is filled with fearful people. There are some things we need to fear, and many things that are made up fears, but both types cause us great distress. Some real fears were born out of the Covid-19 pandemic that began for us in March 2020. Concocted fears of immigrants, Muslims and black people became presidential campaign issues already in 2016.

Pastor Ronald Koch

We have lived with these fears for six years. Deep State and QAnon conspiracy theories suggest there is a giant, secret plot to replace white people with those they should fear. From this we get a willingness to believe the next big lie and follow the leaders who promise simple solutions: the election has been stolen, baby formula is being hoarded for Central American immigrants. The list continues.

Seeking simplistic solutions to a very complex global situation, those who are willing to follow populist leaders seek peace. They want to know that they will be safe and have decent jobs.

We in the faith communities of South County believe that there is a different kind of peace that we profess, which comes through our various expressions of faith. In his book, God’s Storyauthor Karen Armstrong examines the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Although not as inclusive as our very broad reach in our interfaith community, the author summarizes the essence of these three religious expressions in two points: these religious expressions seek justice for society and compassion for those who are oppressed.

Justice and Benevolence. I believe these two points are vital and important to expressions of faith in our region of South County.

When we stand up for justice, we believe that justice creates a better community and benefits everyone. When we stand for compassion for all who are oppressed, so is it. When I think about my involvement in the interfaith community, I cling to these two concepts and find that our work together comes down to justice and compassion.

Peace means more than me or any group getting our way; it means believing that God created a world in which there is enough for everyone. Our task is to learn to share our resources in a fair way rather than hoarding and fighting for God’s bounty. Peace means we work for compassionate care for those who have missed God’s goodness and bounty.

Although this work is very difficult, it is worth pursuing because it gives meaning to our lives and aligns our thinking and actions with a compassionate, justice-seeking God.

Ronald E. Koch is pastor of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gilroy. He is a founding member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. Pastor Koch can be reached at [email protected]

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