Looking at what Mr James said the other day, that true religion is to be there for, and take care of orphans and widows and prisoners and friends and … in their suffering or need, and to guard/recover oneself from the twisting effect of just living in the world. The first part is ‘easy,’ it means that anyone can be half-religious if they choose.
My friends that love to use the slightly clichéd phase, ‘I’m not religious,’ would rephrase their words because, in the above sense, they are at least half-religious. They might not follow any particular faith seriously (where they have one) but you still see something of religion in them. Religion is a human thing; it isn’t the preserve of any faith or ‘religion.’
Having ate the apple that granted free-will to consider evil and not doing the good as options, they’ve still chosen to do as much good as they would, or have means. It shows in the way they let themselves live (at least, as half religious).
One man refused to give in to pressure and so kept a clear conscience. He couldn’t imagine any other survivors. Then someone came and pricked his balloon: “I know a whole bunch of guys doing right like yourself.” To be sure, religion isn’t damp hot air—going about puffing yourself up as being religious while everyone else is not. It would get stuffy around you. This is very different from watching the company you keep, to keep good company; wisdom 101 they say.
Apparently, self-proclaimed ‘irreligious’ folks are not irreverent of the idea of giving a helping hand. But some have irk and ick in the giving motivated by faith, by a love for Christ and God. They know that doing good and justly isn’t a function of any religious affiliation, however, faith walks the same path and so leads, keeps, and equips people for that path and better.
A lot of us are attracted to the semblance of holiness and virtue, portrayed by many preachers (including the malreligious, disreligious and irreligious), and as we’ ve been sold over time. This despite the merits and cons of the propositions we are presented with. The eastern faiths have created a brand identity for the holy man. He dresses that way, walks this way, and talks thus. You see them and you know them.
Almost everybody has idealised the ‘holy way’ so that there’s clearly a way to look and sound holy, religious too. President Obama, like Morgan Freeman in the ‘Lean on Me’ movie, gives the speech of the righteous man on a mission. (Maybe he is/isn’t.) On any other cause, he could do just as well. But religiousity is about works: what you do for others and what you do for yourself, to keep yourself fit and clean. We’d see people as religious for the way they regard others and for the way they regard themselves whether or not its faith-based.