We have gotten used to seeing in religion something that corresponds to a need of the human soul and satisfies this need. Something that is supposed to lead from the unrest of existence to rest, from haste into quietness. Something in which, quite apart from our daily and occupational lives, we come completely to ourselves. Then we say that religion is something beautiful, something valuable, something necessary in life. It is the only thing that can make people profoundly happy.

In this process, however, we forget the decisive question of whether religion is also something that is true, whether it is the truth. For it could be that religion, while beautiful, is not true, and that all of this is an illusion—beautiful and godly, but nonetheless an illusion. And the raging battle against religion was started when people in the church itself often talked as if the truth question is the second question of religion. But whoever talks like that sees religion only from the standpoint of human beings and their needs, and not from the standpoint of God and his claim and demand. And therefore it is important that one thing be quite clear to us and that we let this be said to us by the New Testament: religion essentially comes down to just one thing, namely, being true. Truth is the highest value not only in science but even more—and much more urgently—in the religion on which we claim to base our lives.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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