Idol Worship - Everybody's Doing It


Where is my mind?
Reaction score
Middlesbrough, UK
I have seen a number of threads floating around asking questions about Idol Worship, the general concensus seeming to be that Idol Worship is wrong. But doesn't every faith do it to some extent.

I pray and meditate in front of a small statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. I am not directing my thoughts towards the bronze, but to the Buddha which it represents. Nevertheless, many people would acuse me of Idol Worship.

I understand that Hindu's generally pray towards similar statues of their Gods, which has been extensively discussed in a seperate thread.

Christians pray to images of their Crucified God, are they praying to the wooden carving?

Muslims pray to the East, would anyone suggest that they are actually worshipping the east?

So I am wondering. Is there actually any faith which does not use some kind of Idolatry in it's ritual. If you think that yours does not, Id love to hear from you.

As a Greek Christian orthodox, I've grown up all my life kissing Icons and praying to them not only just the major biblical figures but people who got saint hood much afterwards. I have first hand experienced a weeping icon of the virgin. Worshipping Icons is a way of seeking to attain the virtue of whoever you are worshiping and for us monotheists through them we seek God with there help and guidance. I'am a ware that idol worship contradicts the teachings of Christianity.

I think we all do worship idols in our lives to some extent, but it usually does not look like praying before a statue or icon. Using icons and statues is not the same as idolatry and idolatry is something that is impossible to judge from another's perspective. I find it hard to rigidly define idolatry but my rule of thumb is that it is anything that I worship more than my relationship with God or interferes with my loving and compassion for other people. I would say that I have idols in my life but I try to bring them to my conscious awareness and knock them off their pedestals.

In the US you can add sports figures, NASCAR drivers, movie stars...all to the worship list. tis quite interesting sometimes to see the amount of time, energy, thought, worries and prayers devoted to millionaires...

now if we played the seek ye first, or spent as much time in meditation, contemplation and prayer...

And then there is that one eyed god that provides us with the means to worship our icons and idols, we put it in a place of honor in many rooms of he house insuring it can see us from our favorite pews ....and kids think they are manipulating it with joysticks...meanwhile the the box actually controls our thumb on the remote....
there is a 40 foot metal cross (not displaying a crucifixion) in front of our church. i think it is rather cool BUT, i have never seen anyone go out there & bow to it, kiss it or pray in front of it. there is a painting of Mt. Calvary with a small wooden cross ( not as a crucifixion) over the baptistry with a cool water fall that you only see when the drapes are open or if someone is being baptised. i have never seen anyone bow to that either.
i have heard some people grumble about those two crosses but they have been there for over 50 years & i dont think they are going anywhere.

we kneel at our seats & at the alter in prayer but i dont think of worshiping the seat or the alter when i do that. someone gave me a ceramic cross for easter one year & i dont even know where it is.

God told us not even to make these graven images of anything that resembles something in heaven or something in earth, then later it reads not to bow to God knew people would make them any way & we do.

i am sure there are some people who talk to statues & what not- like they are alive, but that does not mean everyone does it.
hey- i talk to my cars & have kissed the hood because i really like cars, some may consider that idolatry.

Could images, objects, people, ideas, places all be considered idolatry even if it is not in a religious type of setting?
i would say the answer is yes or the potential is there.
The Jews, of course, do not worship idols.

Islam follows the same basic rule.

Interestingly, Arabic Script has emerged as both a decorative and contemplative device within Islam, and as such we have 'type as image' - the distinction is blurred - one could argue that it serves the same function.

The iconoclast dispute among eastern Christians was provoked by a move to appease Islam, and triggered a situation in which eastern Christendom persecuted itself. The great saints of the day all argued for the continuance of icons - a practice tradition attributes to St Luke.

The difference between an icon and an idol is that the latter is worshipped as a god. An icon is reverenced, but not worshipped - and this is the difference.

The 'use' of icons, statues, paintings, objects, etc., are as a means, they are not an end in themselves. Is a gregorian chant an idol? Is a mantra? Is a mudra? I'm sure most would say not - but an icon, or a chant, or a posture/gesture can perform the same function as a means or aide to meditation or contemplation.

In cultural terms, I'm not sure that 'homage' paid to film stars, etc,. qualifies even as idolatry, but rather is simply motivated by envy.

I might have to disagree with you on that one.. It's not as cynical as self persecution.
Although an other point of view is, the Greeks were polytheist believers, after we invaded the East and bought back the sematic and monthiest influences, saint worshiping were a good way of keeping with old traditions and bringing in the new. Me saying this doesn't mean I'm saying its a non divine theological practise because I asure you it is. Religion must serve both society and the divine.