‘Losing’ my Religion (Passions Profile Challenge #5)

“I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents
become better people as a result of practicing it.” 
~Joe Mullally

“This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples;
no need for
complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own
heart is our temple;
the philosophy is kindness.”
~Dalai Lama

Regularly irrelevant, judgemental, inaccessible… that is my experience of Christianity.

That doesn’t mean though, that I don’t see that for many people it is relevant, accepting and accessible.  For some people, Christianity has saved their lives, and setting aside my own experience, I think that’s great.  The thing is though, that I’m not just talking about Christianity.  You’ll have to excuse me for referring mostly to that, because that is where my knowledge and my experience comes from, but what I am passionate about is that all religion should be relevant, non-judgemental and accessible to all people.

I was raised as a Christian.  My father was a minister, so everything revolved around the church.  At some point (as a teen) I made a decision that Christianity was my religion too, rather than being simply what my parents believed.  That is, until I was 28 years old when I came to a conclusion that really changed my whole life.  I think it was a bit challenging for both my family and my friends (many of them being Christians) too.  I decided church wasn’t for me.

That was a radical change.  For a long time I just didn’t want to know about religion.  I felt I had been judged and deemed unacceptable by something that I had previously regarded as my life.  It wasn’t just a ‘church on Sunday’ thing for me.  It was a 24/7 way of life.  I read my Bible everyday, I prayed, I was involved in a range of church activities.  And I stopped it all.

I guess for me my mental illness was the deciding factor.  My illness wasn’t accepted by some people, who seemed to regard it as a product of sin.  I was told by people that my illness was because I didn’t have enough faith in God.  I was also told by friends that using any type of psychology (I was seeing a clinical psychologist at the time) was evil.  Actually I was even given a book telling exactly why I shouldn’t use any form of psychological medicine.  I never read the book, and I have long since thrown it out (in the rubbish) because I couldn’t bear the thought of someone picking it up and concluding they were evil too.  I was also told that because my maternal grandfather had been a Freemason most of his life, this was an evil influence on me and so my mental illness was his fault.  Thankfully he had died by this time so he never knew of this because I know he loved me and he would have been devastated.  By the way he was also a Christian.  I’m sure other criticisms and judgements were cast my way too.  I’m just glad I have either forgotten them, or never heard them

Because I was almost overly sensitive at the time, I took those judgements, from perhaps a few, as being from all Christians.  That was hardly fair of me.  But in the occasional times I have ventured back my sense of being judged was still there.  If it wasn’t me being judged, it was other people I could see being judged, and actually that was even more angry making than what was thrown my direction.

When I see people being ignored because they’re different from the norm, when I see gay people told they’re not welcome or they can’t live with the person they love, when I see gay ministers being told they can’t minister anymore.  I just think that’s wrong.  When particular cultures are judged as evil, I think that is wrong.  One thing I learnt very early in my experience of religion was to “let the one who has never fallen cast the first stone” (John 8:7).  It’s not my place to judge, nor is it the place of any other human being to judge, because we have all got things wrong and none of us are perfect.

I know people who would scoff at my attitude, and that’s okay.  The thing for me is that each person can believe their truth but they don’t need to criticise, or condemn someone else’s truth.  I still believe in a Christian God, although it took a long time before I could accept it after the judgements I’d had thrown at me.  That’s my belief but it doesn’t make anyone else’s belief in another religion invalid.

Some of what I see leads me to think that some of religion is not relevant.  In my own city, which has been devastated by earthquakes recently I am struck by the intense arguments there have been over the demolition of Christ Church Cathedral (consecrated in 1881), and the subsequent arguments over replacing it with a temporary (10 year) building until they can decide what is appropriate long term.  I have my own views on the arguments that are continuing and some of the crazy things that have been happening, but it makes me so sad that a great fuss is made of spending millions of dollars on a  building for worship when the reality is that because of the earthquake damage we have a great shortage of homes.  Some may say I’m being simplistic, but I don’t think simplicity is a bad thing.  Surely we need to address the basic needs of the people before worrying about a building to worship in.  The city has survived for about 16 months without a Cathedral, so why can’t we continue to survive without it and use the money to make sure people have housing.  That would be relevance.

I worked for a charitable trust associated with a church a few years ago.  I wasn’t involved in the church but was basically the front person for both the trust, which provided social services to the community, and the church, from Monday to Friday.  Many people came in for a range of reasons but mostly it was to meet their basic needs.  They needed food from the foodbank, a meal, and social activity and interaction. It seemed to me that not many people were too interested in the fact that this was a church, until their basic needs got meet, and they felt accepted.  Interestingly a number of different religions used the premises for various activities that some might say weren’t Christian.  I think it was great, although I admit that it took me a while to reach that conclusion, and that is because I had my mind trained to think there was only one true faith and everything else was evil.  I don’t believe that now.

Having something to believe in is important, but I think that when you’re really struggling to meet your basic needs, barely hanging onto life, there just isn’t time or energy into thinking about that stuff.  What matters is where my next meal is coming from, or how do I shut up the goddamned voices in my head.  I think we are wasting time and effort if we think that those people are not holy, are not faithful (to which ever religion is relevant).  Singing hymns just doesn’t cut it when there are real needs out there.  And I don’t want a part of it.

That said, I know what I believe and will do my best to practise accordingly without casting judgement on others.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury,pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

(Prayer of St Francis of Assisi)


12 responses

  1. Pingback: Stigma (Passions Profile Challenge #6) | Infinite Sadness… or what?

  2. Wow, fantastic post!
    I admire your ability to trust and honor your instincts and experiences in the face of so many people around you who flippantly brushed off your illness as a product of ‘sin’.

    I have had this frustration too from a strong Christian upbringing and family.
    I have to say I have increased my joy level tremendously since I stopped going to church and trying to make sense of a bible which had so many contradictions, and such examples of violence encouraged, it was actually crazy-making in itself. The most angry, offensive and arrogantly antagonistic Christians I know, use the bible to justify their actions of hate toward others.

    I know there are wonderful Christians out there, doing excellent work and I admire them! However, sadly, they are the minority I’ve found and the majority are arrogant, aggressive, condemning individuals who seem to relish judging and criticizing those who are different than their particular vein of Christanity. The enjoy war-mongering as well.
    They enjoy politicizing Christianity, even though the bible supports separation of church and state.

    I will continue to love and honor all peoples, no matter their religion, class, education or ethnic background. I will continue to try and live by the fruits of the spirit and ascribe to
    whatsoever is Good or just in life. Call me a humanist if you want to, but my joy has increased profoundly!!!

    • It will always make me so sad that people use religion (and specifically Christianity) for this purpose. It is such a waste. As for me, I’m with you. Thanks for your comment. :-)

  3. Pingback: Done (Passions Profile Challenge) | Infinite Sadness… or what?

  4. Thank you for writing this! I know I’m late to the party, but I have lost my religion, too. My experiences are pretty close to yours. My problems with Christianty are very similar. I can’t stand the judgemental nature of the church as I experienced it. I can’t stand that people use religion as an excuse to deny rights and freedom to other people that they deem “unacceptable.”

    I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for SOOOOO long, but I just couldn’t find the right words. I am still working on it. In the meantime, I might re-blog your post because it says a lot of what I feel (as long as you don’t mind). Thanks again!

    • Thanks. And no I am more than happy for you to reblog. Actually it took me a while to find the right words without sounding to angry and hung up. I’m guessing you know what I mean. ;-) The whole thing still makes me angry but I tried to make sure that anger wasn’t the driving force of my post. Thanks for your comments, it’s always nice to know that you’re not the only one.

  5. Reblogged this on Being a Beautiful Mess and commented:
    I wanted to reblog this today as a prelude to a topic that I will be touching on later – religion. The blogger has written a very insightful and well-thought-out post about the flaws of religion and her journey to “losing” her religion. Many of her thoughts and experiences mirror my own. I have been wanting to blog about this topic for a while, but I can’t seen to get my thoughts together on the right approach. I think this is a good introduction while I gather my thoughts and inventory my feelings.

  6. Pingback: Stigma (Passions Profile Challenge #6) | Infinite Sadness… or hope?

  7. Pingback: I Matter | Infinite Sadness… or hope?

I would love your feedback...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s