I offer a challenge to the churches... I challenge that they release their mentality, that they must deal with matters wholly supernatural, and that they offer knowledge with actual relevance to the physical world. That I may go into a church without hearing talk of how the gods see us, what we must do to save our souls, or the thoughts which the immortals have at the moment, to avoid hearing such manifestations of superstition, is one of my challenges to the churches. That they may offer guidance to people in matters of their lives and how they live, instead of condemning and praising, instead of preaching and oratory -- I challenge that the churches serve the people in ways that help the people. That they base their foundation in offering moral support of the people, that they may live and work in a way that benefits themselves and their community in the greatest manner. To have services that conform to the needs of the people, instead of trying to conform the people to some divine mandate beyond the reach of any mortal; to hold the belief that a person's innate nature can never be their own blame; to hold the belief that individuals must travel their own path in life to achieve the happiness they desire -- to understand that a person is not just another two needs bent on a pew, this is what I desire of the church.
I challenge that the churches offer sympathy and kindliness to all people, whether they worships a different god, many gods, or no god at all. Had I been given power to write the constitution of the hearts of the clergy, I would have the first article dictate that all men are their brothers, that there is no crime that can be committed that would grant them a writ of cruelty to the criminal, that they will close their doors to no man, deny refuge to no soul, hold in contempt any spirit that reaches towards the sanctuary of the inner heart, and the result of inner peace. A man can believe in whatever he wishes, whatever insane ideologies or obscure myths, and he may refer to my own dedicated beliefs in the same manner: they will say it is ridiculous to refrain from eating meat, they will claim it is an absurdity to deny the existence of god, they will state that sex outside of a committed relationship is outlandish. Their opinion is their own, and they have a right to it. Whatever that opinion is, it must be understand that this opinion is held by a person -- it is held by a conscious being, one that is not unknown to the torments of misery, one that is not beyond the understanding of happiness, one that knows and feels conflict and suffering, joy and ecstasy. I have known many Christian men who have said that if you take away the beliefs of a man, you have nothing left! Such a creed is founded on the unconventional orthodoxy of religion. I say this: that a person is a person, and no matter what beliefs they have formed about the universe, that they should form them by their own mind's inquiry and investigation, and that no matter what conclusions they come to, they are to be regarded in a manner that takes into consideration that they are still persons, capable of emotion, just as much as any person. I would have this: that the churches accept and honor every man and woman, regardless of their beliefs.
If a person were to sit in the pews of a church and listen to the sermon, for every one hundred words spoken on religion and matters of the unseen, they will hear one word on how to treat their fellow men like their brothers. For every one thousand times the preacher touches upon the topic of how we must respect our father who resides in heaven, he will touch upon once the obligation that we have to respect our brothers and sisters -- our family of humanity -- who reside on this planet. There are ten less times that a preacher will speak on behalf of those who are mortal than those who are immortal, and one hundred fewer times a preacher will claim our duty to the unseen than to the living and breathing mass of creatures on this planet. I make this challenge to the churches: that instead of being burdens on the community, to become a benefit to their lives. Instead of exerting their energy in such a directionless manner as to demand prayer, do not demand anything; instead, only make pleas with them that they are humane in all their dealings with their fellow men, that they do not destroy the lives of those around them, that to plant flowers of joy on this planet is the greatest of duties. Churches, if you have one humane sentiment, then express it with every manner you have at disposal! That is my challenge to the churches: that they place more emphasis on being humane than being religious.
In traveling the United States, my friends and I have seen many glorious churches and temples, but we all confess that there is nothing so enchanting to our soul than that of the cathedral of nature. For every dollar the church puts towards its architectural impressiveness, I challenge that they put ten dollars to feeding the hungry and housing the homeless, that their deeds should impress my heart rather than their buildings sicken my mind. Instead of purchasing another stone, that the height of the tallest church may be increased by just one foot, I challenge the church and all the clergy, that the money goes to buying ten meals, that the unfortunate, neglected, and abandoned may have food for today. Without filling their pockets with the coin of pew-fillers, I challenge the church to reach out to every downtrodden individual, to every oppressed mass, and give them the necessities, so that their existence is not without aid. I challenge the church to do this: to treat the world as its cathedral and spread the wealth, and to abandon its current doctrine, that the world is its cemetery, where things unwanted are to be placed. Before the sun rises and sets again, over a million will still be yearning for the basic needs of life, and over a million will be refused. Instead of preaching on the goodness of god, I demand the churches to call upon the goodness of man, and to show respect and charity to those who have little to live for in this life. Give them not the Bible, but give them food. Teach not of the divine, but teach with actions. I challenge the churches to help end poverty instead of expanding their cathedrals and temples.
The world is emerging from a time where societies have become industrial, where a worker is regarded no more than the cogs in the machine he runs, where living has been reduced to the economy of space. For thousands of years, different forms of tyrannies have slowly been overcome, different revolutions have occurred in the hearts and minds of men, and slowly as Humanitarian ideals spread, we have struggled to reach the shores of our lives. I challenge the churches this: that no injustice will be overlooked, that there should be a light for those who must preside in the dark, that cruelty and malice are forever to be considered a weakness and not a strength, a vice and not a virtue. I challenge the churches to aid the workers of the world in their struggle to liberate themselves, to give support to Animal Rights and Human Rights activists as they work patiently for the conclusion of Democracy and liberty, to not ask people to reform themselves but to ask them to take part in the reform of society, and reform themselves only insomuch that a better society may be the result of it. That is my challenge to the churches, no matter what nation they hail from, or what people attend it. Unless this challenge is met and bested, I only remain at my conclusion: that a world without churches is a world with one more virtue.