Summary: Many argue that what you beloieve doesn’t matter and all faiths are equal. Is this true?
"In talking about religion, if you’re well known, anything you say sort of ticks off a bunch of other people and sort of attacks their belief. So I always try to say that, first and foremost, I think that whatever anybody believes, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s fair enough and works." -- George Clooney
I appreciate that Mr. Clooney is sincerely trying to be careful not to offend anyone. Ironically, however, in trying to be tolerant and non-offensive, he has just offended the majority of the world. No religious person, no Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Animist, Christian, and even atheist for that matter, can agree with that statement. In saying that whatever anybody believes is fair enough and works is the same thing as saying what you actually believe is ultimately irrelevant. I find that very offensive.
More than that, what a completely arrogant statement! On what mountain is he, and all those who hold this view, standing that causes them to be able to look down and see that all religions lead to the same destination and hold the same value? What knowledge do they possess which all the rest of us lack that they can make such an absolute statement?
"Okay, but in the end what difference does it make? If your beliefs work for you, fine. Just let me believe whatever I want". Should we just allow people to continue to believe that the world is flat, that the Holocaust never happened, there’s no such place as Paris, that it’s okay to have 20 wives, just as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone?
If your spouse was having an affair, but no one told you for fear of hurting you, that may "work" (eg. keep you from being depressed, committing murder or suicide, from being distracted or unproductive), but is it actually "good" for you? Don’t you have the right to and desire to know the truth? And if you were required to cover the truth in order not to hurt someone else, how do you know that others aren’t doing the same to you? How do you know who to believe or trust? How can we function as a society? Are we truly better off? It is to live a lie after all. That’s like saying that Truman (The Truman Show) and Neo (the Matrix) were better off before they discovered the truth than after.
The fact remains that in order for someone to be a good Christian, he or she has to be a very bad Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu, and vise versa. You cannot hold to the beliefs of one religion without rejecting or denying the beliefs of another. And what you believe is absolutely essential. When Jesus said, "he who believes (in me) has everlasting life", he also means that whoever does not believe will not have everlasting life. Not surprisingly, therefore, before they were called Christians, followers of Jesus were called "believers". What set them apart from the rest of the world was not their morals but that they believed that Jesus was the Son of God, who died and rose again.
The question, therefore, that we need to be asking about belief and religious claims is not, "Does it work for me?" but "Is it true?" "We need the truth," writes theologian Dr. Myron Penner, "not because it makes us feel good or makes our lives easier, but because ultimately we cannot live without it. Ultimately the Gospel ’works’ because it is about what is true, what is good and what is beautiful."