I have a great respect for faithful people. They live by what they believe, will stand up for it when faced with difficulties, and are generally very nice people. I do have an issue with religious people. You know which ones I mean, the ones with a check list that fervently counter everything you say or do with a quote from the bible or with a statement that starts My (preacher, reverend, pastor, minister, or other religious leader) says ( and fill in the blank). Absolutely no independent thought whatsoever.
I honestly believe that most religions are out to help us produce “good” in the world; to love our neighbors, to respect the people in our lives, and to really try to spread those feelings on to other people. The people who are trying to do this are faithful, and they have taken the spirit of their belief system to heart and have immense faith that it will lead them to do the right thing, always.
On the other hand are those people who are religious. Those people have a list of rules in hand, and these rules may be hundreds or thousand of years old or just said from the lips of a “modern prophet.” They do not thing about what their religions means, stands for, or effects other people. These are the people who scare me; they take their check list of rules and make sure they do the actions described there in, but rarely do they think about what those actions mean nor do they take the spirit of the religion to heart. This action reminds me of the person who thinks that they can “buy their way into heaven (or other spiritual reward)”
Which one is going to create permanent change? I can say that I tend to shy away from people who tell me to follow this rule or that rule and their response to why is “because God said to” or “that is what Jesus commanded.” As a adult, I find it insulting and disturbing that “because” is an answer. Instead, I am much more likely to listen to the person who leads their life according to the spirit of their belief system and tries to pass that along to another person. That person who leads with actions and not rules is the one that will create permanent and lasting change in their own lives as well as others.