Even when no one is listening…

Why I Reject Religion

All the potential harmful aspects of organized religion far outweigh all the potential beneficial aspects. This is not a statement I make halfheartedly. I am fully aware of the implications.  And no, this isn’t a recent discovery. My questioning of religion started at age four-teen. Mostly, basic questions concerning morality and the stories of the Bible; throughout high school I dedicated my time to knowing everything there was to know about the Bible. Once I hit Grace College at age eight-teen things got messy. I was exposed to all the contradictions, loop holes and complicated doctrines of the Christian Faith; and differing worldviews (and yes other religions) that came with serious cultural inconsistencies. While I enjoyed the challenge of rectifying my current worldview to the new information being presented I was never satisfied. Religion, was a hot sticky complicated mess of goo that I spent a lot of time diving into. After leaving Grace in the Fall of 2010 the problem grew. My mind was not satisfied. My questions were only answered with more questions. My heart was willing to ignore the inconsistencies of Christianity while pointing out the loop holes in other religions (looking back I realize the bigotry).  Needless to say, it didn’t work.

Let’s take a look at how corrupt organized religion really is. The beneficial aspects of comfort/ certainty alone are proof enough. Blind faith offers this through a total disregard for intellectual reasoning. We are constantly told that once we hit that point where things just don’t make sense that it’s because God is just too high and lofty to understand and if we want to be good Christians then we need to stop. Just stop right there. Don’t question. Stop everything and just trust that God has all that crazy shit together.

Uhhh? Excuse me? If God is so freaking great then shouldn’t He be able to make himself easy to understand? Shouldn’t the rational inconsistencies…not exist? Wouldn’t he welcome questioning of reality? What does God have to hide? Hmmmmmmm.

Blind faith is only comforting to those who are uncomfortable with the responsibility of finding the truth. Let’s just call it what it is and be done. When you and I stop thinking, send up a prayer “giving it to God” who are we really helping? No one. Blind faith is a pretty little intellectual band-aid.

That being said

Who really benefits from this irrational process for decision making? Ironically, a lot of blind faith believers advocate that God does. God benefits from your stupidity? Uhhh okay. I would think that shows a lack of intelligence on God’s part if his own people give up trying to understand what is real.

Another popular answer to this question is that the believers benefit. Maybe temporarily; but what happens when the band-aid is gone and you start questioning things again? You just whip out another band-aid. The problem never is solved. Eventually, you’ll just stop trying to think altogether. Don’t believe me? Get on facebook. Okay, all joking aside…I’ll tell you who seemingly benefits from this- corrupt authority. Church leaders, a select few who use religion to guilt people into their belief system based on their position and empty promises concerning: wealth, “God’s will”, direction in life and more. The sad thing is that most of this unintentional. These people honestly think they are doing you and I a favor. By forcing their beliefs down your throat it’s a win-win. You get a get out of hell free card and they get warm fuzzy feelings all over. See the problem? Religion has nothing to do with bettering humanity. Instead it creates ignorant flocks that either are not capable or believe themselves incapable of rational thought. Reason is presented as secular; while blind faith is held in the highest regard.

Religion is thus built upon a premise of fear. Fear of a God that can and will condemn you to everlasting torment in hell; all the while claiming that he loves you unconditionally. I will give modern Christianity props for taking God’s approval deeper than a “deeds” based mentality which so many religions propagate. At least Christianity tries to rectify this irrational system by making salvation based on a set of specific beliefs concerning Jesus Christ. So it’s not what you do that saves you it’s what you believe. God will save you just as long as you believe in him; thus STILL making Christian salvation conditional. Hold up. If God loves me unconditionally then why do I have to believe in him to receive the benefits of his love if it is truly unconditional? Hmmmmmmm. Yup. Stillborn babies, those folks in Africa, all the Jehovah Witnesses (because we know how messed up they are) and well every other person outside of MY belief system is doomed.

I’m sorry but my understanding of God is sooooooooooooooo much bigger than that. God is the supreme reality, truth, love. And my morality is not dependent on the existence of any biblical contradicting God that sets mankind up for failure, calling it “free will” (or did we come up with that part?) then time and time again condemns us for not doing what he wants ( Before you try to refute that statement please educate yourself here). You can’t have it both ways. There is NO love in that; only cruelty. Why would we worship such a god? Why should we have to make excuses in his name? Why explain away his contradictions?

I refuse. There cannot be a god if that’s what God is. Yet, I believe there is something. A cosmic understanding. A supreme reality. Balance. Love without conditions.  Something that I am not comfortable giving such a constricting name of “God” because my understanding of it changes daily.  Religious people love their certainty; but the world become clearer when you remove the fog of certainty. After all, the only constant is change & the only certainty is uncertainty.   Why wouldn’t our “God” be big enough to handle those realities? Why can’t we be brave enough to say we don’t know; perhaps only know what isn’t/shouldn’t/couldn’t and work our way from there?

I say all this, not as an attack on Christianity or any other belief system. No. This is a painfully honest evaluation of everything I’ve been seriously questioning for five years. There is no moment that I can pin-point that this change in my worldview took place. Rather, this has been a gradual opening of my eyes, mind and heart to all the inconsistent B.S. that we like to call faith and religion. There is no room for it in a healthy world. We’ve screwed up. All of us (religious organizations). Myself included. Goodness, I spent a good four years of my life teaching this stuff to little children. I am the first to blame; and the most able to point fingers because I am pointing to myself.

How about instead of indoctrinating others we focus on teaching others how to think. Rationally and logically- placing trust in that which is true. Have eyes-wide-open faith; if you must. An understanding of the rational free thinking mind is the greatest gift that can be given. The giver must see the benefit of uncertainty; because free thought walks on unknown territory seeking truth. An element of trust is at place. Trust that the free thinker will come to the truth.

That gift is what I had been longing for in my searching; yet denied over and over again. It came from the most unlikely and diverse of sources. The first being an atheist who found my belief system completely based on irrational argumentation (I might add that I wholeheartedly agree) yet chose to be my friend and to enter into my world even if he didn’t agree with it. The second, being an old catholic man who took the time to understand the evident pain and confusion in my life as a result of spiritual abuse. And thirdly, by theists, who are among the handful of “Christians” I’ve met that did not have a selfish bone in their body. When my family abandoned me (because of disagreeing worldviews) these “Christians” dropped everything, met me where I was and loved me unconditionally, supported me – they walked through my hell on earth. All without ANY personal gain or interest; simply doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. These three, enter into my realm of questioning wholeheartedly and fearlessly. They discuss, question (both sides) and respectfully disagree.

I’ve learned a lot about people from learning about myself. Those who stick around are those who truly love me. Because, as we discussed, love isn’t conditional upon how a person lives their life, nor upon their belief system. No- true love is based in the simple commitment to care for another person: wherever, whomever and why ever. Just because they are.

I understand that now. I also understand the consequences of voicing this reality because I’ve already experienced a taste:

  • Defamation of character
  • Hostility from my family
  • Attacks on my reputation
  • Accusations concerning my mental stability as a person (*gasp* thinking for yourself?! Must be contagious!)
  • Spiritual manipulation and abuse
  • Judgment from religious circles (shocker there)

However, there is so much more to gain. This way of thinking and forming beliefs is more solid of a foundation than any religion/faith can provide. And I’d much rather be ostracized for speaking the truth then be popular for blindly accepting lies. I’m just ashamed that it took me this long to see the light of truth and grateful that it wasn’t any longer than this.

Slightly Over Dramatic Girly Optimist

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Comments on: "Why I Reject Religion" (10)

  1. Wow I am in shock right now! I am so sorry that you feel this way. I am a huge believer in not pushing things on people BUT when it come to not believing in God , . I have never felt that there was NO God! I mean look at the beauty around you that is not manmade! I for a long time wondered what religion was right . . But since being with my husband feel that the churches we go to have true religion and true faith. I know it sounds crazy but for the first time in MY life I actually felt Gods presence! And I always pray to him to feel it again because its an awesome feeling.
    Are the Old Regular Baptist views different? Well yes they are! Very much different than a lot of religions out there who claim christianity but do other things! I think (hope and pray as well) that you are just misguided for a while and will se the real truth. I am going to pray for you to My GOD and hope that you see His light and His mercies! Because God is so wonderful and He has done amazing things in my life!
    I know things have been hard for you and I am sorry they have taken you down this path. But I urge you to reconsider and maybe find a different religion! I know there are A LOT of different churches out there and I don’t believe there is only ONE denomination going to heaven because I don’t feel God works that way!
    With love
    Deidre

    • Deidre,

      Thank you for your thoughts sweetie. I think many people are reading into what I am saying. Yes, I look at the world around me and see beauty. I just don’t attribute that beauty to any concept of God based in organized religion. Honestly, I know more of what I do not believe than what I do believe. I suspect my whole life will be spent seeking the truth. And if I am using reason, and truly am open to being disproved or convinced then I believe I will find the truth. Like I commented to Aaron, I left Jesus out of the conversation but I DO believe in his moral teachings. What Jesus says makes sense. And Jesus says ” Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I’m asking questions, I am seeking the truth, I am knocking on some crazy doors….it’s all part of the journey.

      Much affection,
      Rachel

  2. This is Aaron, not Shannon . . .

    You raise some good points, but you are falling into blind faith the other way as well. Take a listen to my friend’s podcast. It is a open, honest, authentic, and kind dialogue between a Christian (Scott) and an atheist (Emory). achristianandanatheist.com. It shows both the strengths and the pitfalls of each system. You will like listening whether you are one or the other. You can’t though just say that all Christians are unthinking and hold contradictions in their mind. Maybe that is all you have been exposed to, but that kind of statement is also bigoted. I am not condemning you in any way. We are all on journeys.

    • Aaron, thank you for your thoughts. When I have some available time I would be delighted to listen to the podcast.

      You’re right, I can’t say that all Christians are unthinking and hold contradictions in their mind. I’d like to point out that I didn’t say that. My point was rather that a religious system built on blind faith (Christian or not) is what I take issue with. That’s not all I’ve been exposed to. I’m good friends with a Christian couple (that I referenced later in the post) that gives a perfect example of what the message of Jesus is all about. I left Jesus out of the conversation but I will say now that I do believe in the moral teachings of Jesus- His message of unconditional love. It’s his fan club that I am not too crazy about for the most part.

  3. We will pray for you Rachel. The great thing is, there is a wealth of information out there if you are truly seeking God’s truth… not just some version of it put out there by some man or women – or friends 🙂 You will find hypocrisy among believers and NON-Believers alike – that is part of being human. The real question is, which side of the fence will you stand on while you are seeking truth? Wishing you the very best!

    • Thank you Dennis. I really am seeking the truth with an open mind. Hypocrisy is among mankind in general; I just find it expressed the loudest in religion. And my experience is primarily with Christians; though there was a brief period in my life when Islam made a huge stink (some Muslim acquaintances trying to convert me to their religion). That’s why it’s offensive to so many people. They take my free thinking personally instead of seeing that I am an insider who has just as much right as them to make claims about Christianity. Oh, well. All I can do is continue seeking the truth 🙂

      Thanks for the well wishes and support!
      Rachel

  4. Bob Tenney said:

    Rachel,

    This is Bob Tenney.

    Several thoughts, in no particular order, from reading your blog post. (I have only read this one)

    Yep, I was surprised today when I read your blog. Did not see this one coming.

    No, I have not used the FBI, (family bureau of investigation), or talked to folks to carefully craft this.

    We would, and still would have, counted it a privilege to walk with you in this. (only if and when you are willing)

    Like Aaron, I see some good points you have brought up.

    It is good that you are wrestling with these issues. If you didn’t, you would be settling into a surface form of external “Christian culture” that is as common as it is sad. God has revealed that He wants a real relationship not an arrangement. (I want to be your God and I want you to be my people)

    It is good to for you to see the “plastic” easy answers to hard questions is not cool.

    A few years ago I would have dissected your post academically, probably somewhat sarcastically and without question, condescendingly as a “spiritual cop”. Not all of what I would have said would have been wrong, most of it would have been well reasoned, accurate and “Biblical”. (never mind that the whole process would have been a demonstration of what God is not)

    That was before what Brenda now calls our “stupid time” of separation and all the sinful behavior that went with it. (and yes, most of the church leadership where we attended at the time made it harder with some of the “how could you” type of comments and looks that you are receiving from some now. Good news on that front, most involved in that entire mess have really grown and it is a good event when we meet as we now have a much fuller understanding of God’s grace!)

    I am also very aware of the favoritism, “respect of persons” and cliques that were a big part of what you saw around you in the name of Jesus, growing up. The disconnect between the message you heard and what you saw lived out as “normal” in front of you.

    I do not know how the Grace College part fits in.

    Please see this next statement: Those that wag their finger, look down on, condemn or condescend to you are wrong and are not representing God as He has revealed Himself!

    That is about them!! That is no different than the Pharisees that Jesus condemns

    Brenda and I are far from what we should be, but on this one I want you to know that the next time you see either of us, it will be with the same acceptance you have always experienced from us! You are a keeper. (that means that you can safely answer our phone calls as it not from the Spanish Inquisition 🙂

    I have openly been wondering what desire(s), expectation(s) or demands of God or his imperfect people (mom and dad, church leaders or friends, for instance), quietly crept in and disappointed you? We often have these “deals” or “agreements” with God that He was not a party to. When the “deal falls through”, we then turn in anger or disappointment toward God. I will give you some examples that you may have seen.

    “If I just push all the ‘right’ buttons and do the right things, my kids will turn out the way I want them to” or

    “If I read my Bible, go to church and pray God will bring me the spouse of my dreams.”

    “I have done what God wants me to do so why do I have this health problem?”

    I do not know which “deal God did not keep His end of” is part of what has led you to where you now are. I would ask you to take an honest look to see what part of what is going on in your heart is from something like this.

    You could easily brush this off as I now wear the title of “Pastor” and am therefore may be categorized as one of the “corrupt authority” mentioned in your post. (it is entirely possible that I too will get some negative “push-back” from some quarters for what I have included in this post)

    To the degree that this is an honest questioning, together with dealing with the disappointment and hurt that I mentioned above, you will wind up in a place with God that you could not before. Use the faith as God gives it and be willing to turn toward him.

    Whatever in this is wheat, keep. Whatever is chafe toss.

    Bob

    • Bob,

      You have no idea how much your words mean to me right now. I respect you and Brenda greatly.

      I’d love to have you be a part of this time in my life. And I don’t think all authority is corrupt; just most of what I’ve seen and experienced.

      I truly want to find the truth concerning “God” (as I mentioned I am uncomfortable with that term due to connotations), morality, and life. Currently, I am working on a project where I am writing down only the words of Jesus by hand into a journal. I want to see what HE said; not what others said about him (if that makes sense). I may end up where I started on this journey but at least I am moving towards the truth. People see my words and make assumptions. I’ve already had several self-professing Christians make claims to imaginary hurt and reasons as to why I am at this point. Yes, I’ve been hurt. But that’s not what made me question things. It only served as evidence supporting my claims against the hypocrisy of claiming the name of Christ yet not living out his message.

      Sadly, people will hear what they want to hear. I’ve learned that the hard way. It’s people like you and Brenda that claim the name of Christ AND live out his message of unconditional love that help me see merit in Jesus. As far as Christianity, that ship has sailed.

      Rachel

      P.S. I forgot the name of your church. Now that I have more time off from work and what not I believe I really can make it to Ft. Wayne for services if you hook me up with the info 🙂

      • Bob Tenney said:

        The name of our church is Gospel Community. We meet in the Heartland Church at 1025 Vance. Since Heartland is graciously allowing us to use their building, our time to meet is 5pm. Door 1 is where you enter our part of the building. You can also get into the parking lot off of Ferguson.

  5. […] religious friends, I am not that different from you. Yes, I got good and angry. Confused and bewildered. Hurt and abandoned. But all that chaos led me down the path of selfless […]

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