This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Despite what some may think about Salt Lake City, there is more than one religion here. The Yellow Pages, under "Churches," lists 68 categories, from Assemblies of God to Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Mostly Christian, with Buddhists and Hindus thrown in. Synagogues pop up about 1,000 pages later. Mosques are in between.
Really, though, there are only two religions in the world. One is Arrogance. The other is Humility.
The Arrogants have it all figured out. They know the secrets of the universe. They know what God is, what God wants, what God will punish them or, more likely, punish other people for. The certainty of it all, the ability to avoid thinking for oneself, has been attractive to many peoples throughout history.
See also: Warren Jeffs. The proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints allowed himself, and was allowed by his followers, to basically rape a long line of helpless and docile children because no one present had any reason to object.
The Humbles know they do not know. They sense that the universe is full of secrets, which they may never grasp. They take comfort, then, in the idea that even though they don't know it all, there is a deity, a creator, a force of nature, that does, and that, whether by faith, by good works or by grace, each of us might receive a glimpse of the bigger picture, if not in this life then in the next.
The reason to believe that all religious beliefs break across that single axis, and not into dozens of truly separate categories, is that there are Arrogant Christians, Jews and Muslims, who have more in common with one another than they have with the Humble adherents to their same faith tradition. Their identifying mark is that they hate each other. Not only do they hate Arrogant members of other faiths, they hate, perhaps more quietly, Humble members of their own faith.
And there are Humble Christians, Jews and Muslims. Their identifying mark is that, for the most part, they get along rather well. They are too busy organizing joint efforts to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and heal the sick to engage in any violent acts.
This explains why neither Gandhi nor Malcolm X, though strongly motivated by faith, was murdered by members of another faith. Each of them was gunned down by people of their own tribe, as punishment for the murderers' conclusion that their target was not true enough to their Arrogant beliefs.
The political versions of the Arrogants and the Humbles are obvious throughout history. The Hitlers and the Bin Ladens are deadly because they are certain. The Jeffersons and the Lincolns have to take a long time to write out what they think, why they think it, and why others should follow them, before they act. They use phrases such as "we hold these truths to be self-evident," allowing that even the principles of the Declaration of Independence need to be argued out, or "as God gives us to see the right," acknowledging that we might not know everything we would like to know, but we have to move on anyway.
Oliver Cromwell, a religiously motivated zealot who was certain enough about some things to cut off the king's head and rule England by decree for four years, said it most memorably: "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken."
George Pyle, a Tribune editorial writer, is Arrogant enough to write this, Humble enough to be talked out of it at email@example.com.