What I Believe

You made this universe, this galaxy, this solar system, this Earth, all these people and all these animals, plants and minerals. You love us all, male and female, African, Asian, European, Native American and of mixed heritage. We must love you with our whole being, and others as ourselves. The good news is that love is really worth the time and trouble it takes.

You made the angels who protect us. You chose one nation on this planet as your own. You led your people out of slavery, through the desert and into the promised land. You have enabled them and their faith to survive generations of murderous hatred by believers and others.

You bless the few nations that have never had laws protecting slavery, or excluding women from voting, or requiring racial segregation, or forbidding interracial marriage. You bless the few religions that have never let race, gender or marital status determine who may preside at worship.

You love all who call themselves children of Abraham. You love those who guard and celebrate the Torah. You love those who believe that the eternal son of God has lived and taught among us, has died and has risen and is the savior of the world. You love those who follow their prophet Muhammad who listened for the word in the desert and shaped a community after what he heard.

You love those for whom the Buddha is a great teacher and moral exemplar who found the eightfold path that leads to spiritual liberation. You love those for whom heeding the precepts of Confucius assures living well and in attunement with both society and the cosmos. You help us see in others, and they in us, our shared humanity.

We must not worship other gods or dishonor your name. We must keep each day holy, and honor our parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts. We must not kill our enemies, our criminals, our unborn children or our old people. We must not commit adultery, steal, witness falsely, or wish to take another's spouse or another's possessions. No one should be imprisoned for idolatry, abortion, adultery or wishing. You forgive our sins when we repent.

You bless those who are poor and discouraged, meek, selfless and pure of heart, hungry and thirsty for justice, peacemaking and persecuted. We must feed and clothe the hungry and naked. We must visit the sick and those who are in prison. We must count as our own the foreigners who live in our land. We must not label ourselves or others as gay or straight, heterosexual or homosexual. We must confront the racism, sexism and homophobia of those who oppose equal rights for all. You reward the good we do.

Food, clothing, housing, health care and education are not optional. Too many nations lack resources to provide them. Our planet's population growth, from 1.5 billion in 1900 to six billion in 2000, is part of the problem. You no longer say we must increase and multiply. We must undo the forces that make war and poverty the main causes of human suffering and death. Faith can overcome the words and weapons of the powerful and the wealth of the rich. You put down the mighty and you lift up the lowly.

Temples, churches, holy days and religious ceremonies are optional. You have never commanded wives to obey their husbands, or crusaders to conquer infidels, or inquisitors to prosecute heretics, or divorced persons to remain unmarried. You have never forbidden same-sex marriage or contraception. We must see ourselves as created by you, instructed in the commandments, fallen from grace, capable of repentance, refreshed by divine light and strength and looking forward to a better world.

You will make everything new again in the life of the world to come. The poor will prosper, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the crippled will walk and the prisoners will be set free. Your people will have time alone and time with one another. They will have echoes and rainbows, poetry and music, history and biography, fiction and humor, games and laughter. They will be honored for the help they have given to others. They will be comforted by the promises they have kept. The future is less certain for those of us who have television, refrigerator, computer and car. We share this uncertainty with prosperous people of every generation.

You have revealed some important things not mentioned here. Faith varies in content, emphasis and style. Faith comes and goes, gets stronger and weaker. No faith is complete, permanent or self-contained. Love, a greater gift than faith, will last forever.