“In the past I thought religion was all about ‘belonging’ and ‘Jesus loves me.’ But, when I attended church we felt so terribly judged,” my friend Ella explained how she felt about religion. Clearly, she was disillusioned by religion. It was not satisfying her soul.
“I understand what you are saying,” I heard myself respond. “I could never measure up to their religious standards of ‘righteousness’, either.”
Ella* is like a sister to me. Perhaps a “soul sister.” We have had a similar religious journey in some ways.
Putting My Self in a Box
According to my family religion, before Jesus or God could love me, I had to be a certain way, act a certain way, and behave a certain way. As a consequence, I had to stuff myself in a religious box with a label on it. Even so, members could not accept me as I was. And in the end — apparently — I was judged as unlovable and defective.
In Ella’s case, she and her partner were engaged and living together. They felt no urgent need to get married. The love they felt for each other was pure in their eyes and that was enough. But, throw religion in the mix and suddenly all kinds of arbitrary rules applied. Suddenly, guilt and shame were painted all over them. In other words, they were judged harshly for being unwed.
“Is all religion so harsh and judgmental?” One might ask the question, and validly so.
Religion and Politics Interchangeable?
Someone asked her at work, “Are you a Christian?” Her explanation was very much the same as mine.
While I feel a sense of spirituality, I would rather not identify myself as anything in a religious sense, because as soon as I make some religious declaration, I paint myself into a box in which I don’t rightly belong. So, like Ella, I would rather not call myself a Christian, either.
Look at the example of Christians in the United States. Look at who is running for US presidency lately: right wing Christian fundamentalists without heart or soul, owned by corporate interests. I keep looking in them for some hint of “consciousness”. Then I flash back to a scripture where Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. Would he — or would he not — throw out today’s politicians who are clearly not interested in ordinary people. For example, food stamps was apparently enough of a safety net for the poor, according to one candidate running for president, in an earlier election. Is “Let them eat cake.” an example of religious love in action? Perhaps today’s politicians might try living off food stamps.
Another example is where the current president of a country believes himself to be a great king for a foreign country! Has he lost his way? It’s no wonder folks become disenchanted with these so-called leaders, who promise to bring back the religious mores of a by-gone era. Their archaic attitudes and beliefs lead me to wonder if religion and politics are interchangeable. Or is there good reason for folks to become disillusioned by religion?
Marriage Protected from Religion?
Who owns a woman’s body? I question why religious groups think they have the power to control women’s bodies. Why do they think it’s okay to dictate what goes on in the bedrooms of the country? It occurred to me that perhaps some women are conditioned to enable this behavior and belief, since it is certainly true in the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion. Members of that religion appear to believe that a man must “lead his wife” and “dominate her”. They even base it in scripture. I wonder if it is healthy for women to let men make such arbitrary choices for them. I doubt it.
Religion and Sexual Abuse of Children
Bishops want “unmarrieds” to abstain from sex. Yet, some among them are forcing sex on children. Where is their abstinence? Is that their level of emotional intelligence — forcing their “authority” over dis-empowered, vulnerable children? Dear Christians, seriously, would Jesus behave that way?
Meanwhile, I remind myself that they themselves are unmarried. Additionally, I am aware that the raping and sodomizing of children is illegal. Also, I believe justice for the wounded children will occur, since what goes around comes around. Sadly, some of the present governments are enabling the sexual predators to continue their attacks on children by turning a blind eye. However, I’d like to point out to Christians how Jesus would have viewed the behavior of those religious and government leaders, even while religion condones such evil. If your Jesus would condemn the Pharisees of his day, he would certainly not hold back from condemning the modern-day Pharisees, either.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Honor Killings?
All over the world religious people are killing one another. It’s not just the Muslims who do “honor” killings, like much of today’s government propaganda might imply. American religions such as Jehovah’s Witnesses are perfectly capable of violence against their own, too. All in the name of their god. Besides committing horrendous acts of sexual abuse against children, Jehovah’s Witnesses treat living relatives who have left their religion as dead. Such treatment might be considered as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ version of honor killings. That’s downright abusive.
“Shunning is the cruelest thing that can be done to a person.”—Debbie Glander, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Disillusion of Religion Helps Create the New
Like the message in the image states, religion teaches a lie about needing an external “creator” or “god” in order to be happy. Yet, the reality which we are never told is that we are self-sovereign by nature.
To sum it all up, I have a conscience and consider myself non-religious. Perhaps what I observe around me is all happening for some higher purpose. Nevertheless, I keep reminding myself to let go of judgment and just keep sending love — and trust the process.
So, while I struggle with what I see in the news, I remind myself that we as humans are meant to live as free sovereign beings, if freedom is our strong desire. What I see on the planet today makes me long for that sovereign status more than ever. I will never be drawn back to religious concepts again because I now know they are lies! Disillusioned by religion? Yes indeed, I have woken up to the delusion of needing an external god. Waking up is the first step in knowing I am free and self-sovereign by nature.
* Ella is not her real name. Visit "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2012–2019.