From time to time, we’ve delved into matters of religion in this space. We know it’s always a dangerous proposition, and we believe that religion is an intensely personal matter that is manipulated all too often by people who have, for whatever reason, obtained a public platform.
That’s why my initial instinct after seeing the remarks from Richard Tillman, the brother of the late Pat Tillman, on the most recent episode of Bill Maher’s show was to ignore them. Apart from Richard Tillman’s headline grabbing sound bite — “I wish he would’ve just lit these f–king idiots up with his own gun” — the discussion included Richard Tillman’s belief that Pat is “f–king dead” and not with God.
People are entitled to believe in God or not believe in God. That’s the mystery of free will, and the beauty of living in a free country. God (and I choose to believe that there is One, in large part because I do not believe that life as we know it could have been created accidentally) doesn’t want us to be robots. But I get uncomfortable whenever someone pushes religion too hard, because I believe that faith is a more subtle and internalized process and that human nature often resists the perceived “hard sell,” whatever the product may be.
I get even more uncomfortable when someone (whether it’s Richard Tillman or Bill Maher or Christopher Hitchens) feels compelled to grab a microphone and seek company for the possible misery of their own non-belief. If you choose not to believe in God, that’s fine with me. It’s your choice. But there are a lot of people out there, young and old and in between, who have yet to make a final decision, and I don’t like it when folks who have yet to complete their own spiritual journey — regardless of the destination — have their paths obscured by someone on television who is telling them that there is no God.
This isn’t a heaven-and-hell issue. I choose to believe that God doesn’t want us to suffer in life or after it, and that those who don’t believe simply see their existences expire at death. So maybe, in the end, the folks who choose to believe will receive at the end of their lives exactly what they had anticipated — and maybe those who don’t believe will receive the same thing.
Either way, the reality is the none of us will know the answer until it’s too late to do anything about it.