I had a chat with my friend who was doing a religious studies program (which has a reputation of being really really mind boggling) at university posed a challenge to me, is organised religion is important. This also coincides with a similar challenge on Sassy Lawyer's blog. The following are just my humble thoughts on the issue...
Some people say that the world can do without organised religion on the wake of various scandals involving the clergy of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations.
I think it is arrogant for some people to give the above statement just because they are well-educated, well read, and have learned and adopted various philosophical and political schools of thought.
For me these people do not fully understand the true essence and meaning of the Church’s doctrines. I suspect that these people generalise based on what was mentioned in news media.
I think my parish priest’s homily last year regarding the sex scandal issue was that we do not worship or idolise our priests, bishops and popes, they are just instruments of God. We only worship and follow God and that is the most important thing above all. If an organisation has erring members it does not make an organisation wrong or irrelevant. For example, if half of those who serve in the justice system are corrupt it does not make the rest of the justice system corrupt and thus not make organised justice irrelevant. (Thanks Enbrethiliel for this fitting analogy!)
If the servants of God have sinned it is because they are only human but never an excuse to be answerable to the rules of man and the law of God.
I absolutely do not believe that we do not need organised religion. It gives peace of mind, grace and hope to its members in this fast paced and increasingly materialistic world. I truly empathise and understand the feelings of those people who saw the ugly side of the Church but the ugly side is not the relfection of the entire Church and it members. A lot of concepts in today’s secular western world came from Christianity like human rights, ethics, morals and values. In my case, the Church was a good companion during my times of loneliness, sorrow and depression (I'd rather pray and go to Mass than take Prozac).
A lot of people have big expectations from our religions. It will not answer all the world’s problems but it serves as a guide to mankind’s actions through the ages. It's eternal truths of peace, love and justice will be passed on for the ages to come even if it has erring members or not.
We forgot that people, who like us are prone to sin and are not perfect, also make the Church and other faiths. Again, they can be forgiven and change. And yes, the Church and various churches have made mistakes but it is not enough a reason to brand them as irrelevant. If we have grievances against our faiths their servants are always willing to listen to us (because it is part of their work).