[Note: This article was originally written in 2012.  However, given the current ideo-political situation taking shape globally, it seemed fitting to preserve it here, as we upgraded to a new site. It’s a little out of order, in terms of rolling out the new content, but it will give at least some insight into what Stellar Influence stands for.]

It’s hard not to get frustrated with religious leaders. When you look at global conflicts, and see how much violence is started by religious fanaticism, then it’s easy to conclude that anyone who follows a Rabbi, Mulla, Priest, Preacher, or any other religious leader is an idiot, and that the world would be better off without religion.

The problem is that there’s huge logical error in the assumption.  It’s called generalizing. We’re assigning morality to the structure itself, not to individual human beings, and the actions they take.  It’s like saying, “I’m overweight, therefore cooking is bad, and chefs are evil!”

Directly applied to religion, I saw a comment on social media recently: “These religious people are racist fanatics. Therefore, all religious people are bigots, religion is evil, and religious leaders promote bigotry!”

The irony is that while that attitude is extremely popular, it’s just as bigoted as the bigotry it professes to abhor.

Unfortunately, all forms of extremism, fanaticism, bigotry, racism and other forms of group hatred are not restricted to either religion, or leadership, but to the depraved aspects of  human nature in general.

Furthermore, directing animosity to religion as a whole, or the leaders thereof, simply perpetuates more of the same fanaticism that creates the mess in the first place.

Fanaticism, bigotry, and racism all begin with an attitude to a class or group, rather than respect for the individual. When we whitewash all religion, or all leaders, with the same brush, then we are guilty of exactly the same prejudice that we abhor.

The only difference is that now it’s not towards a race, but to a particular sector, or class of society.  So, fine, you don’t hate a particular ethnic group with a different skin. You just hate a group who holds a particular ideology different from your own.

Wisdom requires us to realize that it’s not a class of society that is at fault, a particular sector, or any group as a whole. The problem is the quality of the individual character. When people without compassion get together in groups, it doesn’t matter what type of group it is. The results are always atrocious!

Hitler was not a religious leader, and look at the fanatical racism and hatred he evoked. A mob beating someone to death has no leader, but still displays rabid fanaticism.

I heard a lot of bigotry and hate speech in the recent US elections, and the Middle East is in the throes of political hatred right now.

I’ve heard more atheism, hate speech, bigotry, and fanaticism come from atheists than from any religion. I’ve heard the same from business leaders talking of competition in global markets.

The solution is not to denounce either religion or leadership. the issues are wider than that. The answer is to deal with the attitude of the individual heart, regardless of which sector of society it shows up in, or at what level of leadership.

I do not want a bigoted, racist, fanatical, prejudiced business, religious, scientific, military, or medical leader … anymore than I want a religious one!

If we ourselves model caring and respect to our children, then we will eventually raise up kind, caring, compassionate and respectful leaders … in EVERY sector of society — Government, Religion, Science, Business, Media, Military … ALL of them!

When we as a society have done so, then yes, absolutely, we must follow these leaders — for the sake of our future society, and the peace and prosperity we all wish to enjoy.

When religious leaders rise up and do what they rightfully should, and that’s teach compassion, humility, respect and all the other virtues of human character that their religions profess … then those leaders are valuable to society, should be followed, admired, and honored.

When they don’t, I strongly agree with those who abhor fanatical, bigoted religious leaders. The world can do without them, and we are dumb to follow them!