7/10/12

Blase Bonpane: Imagining no religion | l.a. activist

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Blase Bonpane: Imagining no religion
December 11, 2011 By Carly Gillis

www.laactivist.com/2011/12/11/blase‑bonpane‑imagining‑no‑religion/

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Blase Bonpane: Imagining no religion | l.a. activist

Long-time activist Blase Bonpane speaks to an audience at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles about his recent book “Imagine No Religion.” (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist) It may seem surprising for a spiritual man to publish an autobiography titled “Imagine No Religion,” but Blase Bonpane’s convictions are anything but ordinary. On Dec. 11, Bonpane visited The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles to deliver a short speech on themes related to his newly published book. Bonpane, known for his extensive missionary-cum-activist work in Central America, expounded upon the philosophies and convictions he built during his years of human rights activism and anti-war organizing. Much of his talk was dedicated to his rejection of mainstream Christianity and its focus on enforcing rules rather than peace. “Dogma is what ties us, but it really is quite irrelevant,” he said. “It has nothing to do with who you are. The binding part is what separates us.” He feels the literal interpretations of spiritual texts are among the primary causes of separation and disagreements around the world. The focus, he said, should be on faith. “Rigid ideology is religion,” he said. “It limits us and divides us. … Spirituality is based on how little we know, not how much we know.” He also spoke against the weaving of religion and politics to validate war. He explained that America has combined the “terrible cancer” of Christianity with war to legitimize its actions – a maneuver he finds
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7/10/12

Blase Bonpane: Imagining no religion | l.a. activist

immoral and unjust. “How can you justify war if it wasn’t your religion?” he said. Bonpane developed much of his philosophy during his time serving as a Maryknoll priest in 1960s Guatemala. He discovered that many of his fellow Catholics had different priorities that were not aligned with his own, even though they had the same belief system. “I thought to myself, ‘If I have more in common with an atheist working for peace than a fellow Roman Catholic who is a warmonger, something’s wrong,’” he said. Instead of following orders and proselytizing the indigenous people, he became involved in their spirituality and human rights struggles. In 1967, Bonpane was expelled from Guatemala for subversive actions related to a political revolution. When the Catholic Church told him to keep quiet about his doings, he knew he had to separate himself from organized religion. Since then, he has dedicated his life to world peace rather than religious rhetoric. He has worked with antiwar groups around the globe, winning numerous human rights awards along the way. Currently, he serves as director of the Office of the Americas, a nonprofit he co-founded in 1983. It’s there that he continues to work for international justice and crusades for peace. “War is terrorism, torture, hatred and lies – and that’s all it’s ever been,” said Bonpane. “We’re not wired for war. … We’re wired for creativity and imagination.” Share and Enjoy:

Tags: Anti-War, Economic Justice, Human Rights, Solidarity

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