I remember, back in 1971, some Jehovah’s Witnesses assuring me that the Battle of Armageddon would take place by 1975, and God would kill all the wicked people in the world, i.e. all the non-Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was advised not to get too involved in “this system of things,” because God was going to bring about a new system. I know of Jehovah’s Witnesses who dropped out of high school and never pursued higher educations; they spent those early years “pioneering,” or preaching door to door.

Of course, they are not the only religionists to have seen their projected dates for judgment day come and go. I often wonder, though, about the folks I knew back then, and if they are still clinging to their hope — yes, they actually prayed for Armageddon to take place — that God will massacre 8 billion people, give or take a few million. I also wonder if perhaps they feel let down these 40-odd years later, and if maybe some were so disillusioned that they have moved on from that religion.

I suppose it can’t be easy for fundamentalists who have clung to a belief system to see its influence waning. We see it happening in so many ways today. Church pews are going empty, collection plates are growing smaller. Fewer and fewer people are buying into the blind faith of people who lived in Bible times. The bigger religious organizations just don’t have the influence they used to have in the Western world — with governments or with individuals.

Sometimes I get the feeling that the struggle between some religions and LGBT people over the basic issue of equal rights is really more about those churches seeing their authority being eroded even further. Governments are taking away their right to dictate the parameters of relationships, something religions feel was their turf all along.

Yes, it is a turf battle, between church and state. It must be, because that is the only explanation I can come up with to explain how people who believe in brotherly love can be so unloving and discriminatory to LGBT people. They see the influence of their organizations fading . . .

Sometimes it is hard to accept change, but it is part of the nature of things. I am reminded at this moment of a beautiful passage from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and I close this post with it:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment is it perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
― Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life