Utopia Of The Religions Of The Utopians
Utopia does not have one religion, but many. However, everyone agrees with the same principle that there is one Supreme Being, who they call in their religion Mithras, and who "is also the great Essence to whose glory and majesty all honors are ascribed by the consent of all nations." Religions, pg. 72 Many of them converted to Christianity after hearing the account of the doctrine and how several martyrs gave their lives in order to spread the religion.
When Utopus founded Utopia, he made a law stating that no person should be punished for their religion, and that each man could be of whatever religion he pleased. Furthermore, only through persuasion and argument were people to influence others to join their religion. Thus, when one newly-Christian Utopian showed too much zeal and shouted words of bitterness against other religions, he was condemned to banishment, as was the law. The law also stated that such people could be condemned to slavery. The reason such laws were passed was because Utopus believed that God might have different ways of inspiring different men, and thus nobody should be punished for that. However, should there be only one true religion, that religion will become apparent through discourse and unprejudiced argument. Despite this, he did pass a law stating that nobody was allowed to think that the human soul died with the human body, or that the world was "governed by chance."
Utopians are convinced that all good people will be much happier in their next state. No one should approach death unwillingly because this will show God that they are unappreciative.
Should any man approach death in this manner, they mourn for him after death and pray that God will be merciful to his soul. On the other hand, if a person dies cheerfully, they will sing hymns for him, and commend their soul very earnestly to God. They then burn the body and put an inscribed pillar where the ashes are. Only the good deeds of the dead are spoken of, and they believe that the dead are among us and watching us, although we cannot see them. This thought also discourages people from sinning.
The Utopian equivalents of priests are called Brutheskas. There are two types: those that do not marry, live chaste, do not eat meat or indulge in any other pleasures of life, and those that marry, beget children, and enjoy life's pleasures as long as this does not interfere with their work. The Utopians prefer the latter since they are considered more reasonable. There are only thirteen priests in each town. They are chosen by the people, by secret suffrages, and they are discouraged from speaking with anyone in private. The priests are responsible for education the youth. They do not see much use in letters, preferring the development of youths' ideas and principles, so that their minds will be useful to their community. The wives of the priests are so extraordinary that sometimes they are made priests themselves. Great honor is paid to priests in Utopia, and if any priest should commit a crime, they are not punished because their punishment is left to God and their conscience.
There are two reasons why there are so few priests. The first is that increasing the number of priests means that there is less dignity in being a priest. The second reason is that it is so difficult to find people good enough to become priests. When Utopia is at war, some of the priests join the army and pray during battle. First they pray for peace, and then for victory, with as little bloodshed as possible. The priests are revered by all nations, and have been known to stop unnecessary bloodshed in war.
Utopians measure their months by the lunar cycle, and their years by the solar cycle. Since there are many different forms of religion, the priests are only allowed to share in the temples what is common in all religions. Also, there are no images of God in the temples so that each person can imagine Him as he wishes. At the evening of the festival that concludes each season, the priests meet in their temples and thank God for what he has given them that year or month. In this meeting, women and men are separated--men at the right hand and women at the left hand, placing themselves before the heads of the families to which they belong. They do not sacrifice any animal in this festival, as they do not think that it is right to take pleasure in killing something that God has given them. Instead, they burn incense and other sweet odors and light candles.
All the people at this festival wear white garments, except the priest, whose clothes are multicolored. When he enters, everybody falls to the ground in a very pious manner. After a while, they stand up and start singing expressive hymns. Prayers follow this, and they are general yet specific enough so that they apply to the whole audience, as well as to each individual. Then they pray to God that they wish to be taken to Him when the time is right, but that they would rather sooner than later as they wish to see Him and be taken to the next stage.
In Utopia, every man has a right to everything, and they all know that they can take whatever they want. Therefore, this is truly a commonwealth, as opposed to all the other countries that claim to be but are not. Instead, the of the countries are:
"A conspiracy of the rich, who on pretence of managing the public only pursue their private ends, and devise all the ways and arts they can find out; first that they may, without danger, preserve all that they have so ill acquired, and then that they may engage the poor to toil and labor for them at so low rates as possible, and oppress them as they please." Religions, pg. 83
Thus, it is good that the Utopians have come across such a wonderful system of government that lasts and makes everybody happy, and it would be wise of other countries to learn from and imitate them.