When we visit hospitals, we are not surprised to find sick people there, in fact, we expect to find the ill there; yet, when we visit places of worship, we are often surprised when we see people who are far from holy frequenting the church/temple.  Places of worship are in a sense, “hospitals” for the spiritually/emotionally unwell because it is where one goes to seek peace of mind, clarity, answers, solace, and perhaps even redemption.  It is where we seek to be “cured” from whatever is bothering us–which caused us to seek a spiritual or religious path in the first place.

When one is well-balanced physically and mentally, everywhere can be a place of worship and every where can be a holy place where we find peace of mind, joy, calmness and love.  However, when one is troubled, we feel that we need to seek solace from the world and we often end up going to places of worships and attending prayer gatherings in the hope that our life may gradually improve and whatever has driven us there will be alleviated.  Hence, we must not be surprised when the people who surround us during religious gatherings are far from stellar.

It is precisely because they are as spiritually or emotionally troubled as we are which is why they find themselves there in their search for peace or even happiness.  When looking for well-balanced friends and companions, we must subscribe to the faulty notion that people who are religious and devout are automatically of good character and moral standing, for as the well-known quote from the Bible goes, “The devil can quote the words of the scripture.”

To elaborate further, the devil (or any sort of manipulative person) will not reveal their true nature or identity because it will be in cross-purposes with their ill intentions because if we know that someone or something is “bad”, “wrong”, or “evil” there is a higher chance that we might hesitate.  In looking for truly good people, places of worship might not necessarily be the right place to look.  Just as with any gathering, there will be an assortment of different characters–some who really are of exceptional character, others who are harmless or neutral, and others who have their own agendas for being where they are and doing what they do.

Just because we find ourselves in a religious gathering or group, we must not arbitrarily let our guards down simply due to the fact that the activity or group or location has something to do with Holy beings or prayers. We must still exercise discernment, as we would do so during any other setting because people are people and often appearances deceive.  We might also be even more vigilant, taking into consideration the higher likelihood of the motivations of being devoutly religious in the first place–what causes them to frequent such places, and what benefits they derive from it and why they feel the need to seek a spiritual path in the first place.

With all due respect, there are indeed very respectable characters in places of worship, yet it does not apply to all people who are devout followers.  I am merely prescribing due caution and scepticism.  We must give credit where credit is due, and not simply merely by virtue of the setting, situation, event, or location.

(c) Niconica 2013

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