The number of Americans who claim to have no religious affiliation is higher than it has ever been before. Young people, driving this trend, have seen the damage that religion is causing in their own local communities and around the world.
I have a hard time reconciling the fact that people need religion to create a sense of personal responsibility and morality when it should come from the individual. It is a somewhat insulting idea that in “God’s plan” we are all powerless chess pieces on a chess board of life and that the worst things that happen are inevitable, part of a prophecy. I despise the “let go and let God” message that far too many religious spew, further removing any individual from personal accountability. I can’t stomach this bible verse instructing the weak of mind to worry not about anything, just pray. Prayer, in its traditional form, is the most self-indulgent and useless of activities. You want me to recite words or ask for something without getting off my knees and making it happen? I think true prayer can be found in our actions and convictions not in recited word. God most certainly does NOT want you to leave it in his hands any more than he wants you waiving around books or objects or beads or statues or amulets or any other idolytry.
There is big difference between the religious and those with morality. Dressing immodestly makes you no more immoral than praying ten times a day or following some special diet make you more moral. Attending a man-made service with man-made rituals and listening to man-made doctrine makes you no more moral than not attending at all. In fact, with so many of these mega-churches building mega-structures and flying private jets and living the high-life on the backs of their followers, I find attending these services more immoral than not. And don’t get me started on the Vatican and their sex parties and hustler rings and illegal drug use. People are starting to see the truth.
Religion has become a profitable, commoditized business with slick marketing campaigns and architects hired to build new excessive, new buildings and money invested to build modern electronic money collection systems and engaging new websites. How is it that God has become an industry and to whom should the right to profiteer from this be granted? And why are these operations not subject to tax?
And how about the idea of whom God’s chosen people are? There have been deities and religions for thousands of years. Who is to say which the correct one is? Are we really all worshiping the same God? How can that be if some Gods are asking people to kill others and sacrifice people and animals while other God’s are pacifists?
What about the world’s turmoil caused by religion? Its awful enough that we have race and ethnic origin to marginalize people with. Long before the Jihadism we became more of aware of on 9/11, we have seen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Sudanese holocaust, the holocaust of World War II, and the many European holy wars that spanned hundreds of years. Bloodiest of all is the Christian crusades where millions were sacrificed. All in the name of the classic game of “my religion is better than yours. You must submit now.” This same sentiment holds true today when the door bell rings and the salesman is ready to tell you why eternal salvation can only come through [insert one religion here] and not yours. But for a limited time, you too can be blessed. Operators are standing by. I always use my favorite line from As Good As It Gets, “Go sell crazy somewhere else. We’re all stocked up here.”
And what’s this “blessed” phenomenon that people are using. It’s the newest hash tag. You’re #blessed because you got a new pair of shoes or you attended some fancy event or you got the dinner you wanted while much of sub-Saharan Africa starves? It hardly seems reasonable to make these claims. What makes you so blessed? Is blessed some sort of code word that God loves you better than me? I don’t think you’re #blessed, I think you’re out of touch.
I also left religion behind because I just can’t worship man made fiction. From a Christian perspective, I just cannot buy virgin birth, resurrection, miracles, heaven and hell, gods and saints and monsters and lions and tigers and bears. The Jesus story has been repeated long before the Christian calendar has him existing. Plenty of Pagan religions as well as Greek and Roman mythology all predating Christianity have similar “king and queen” stories that rival Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I just don’t buy it. But I do buy dinosaurs.
As for the bible, anyone who believes slavery is wrong, human trafficking is wrong, women being owned and beaten into submission and being counted as less-than-men is wrong, torturing and sacrificing of people and animals is wrong, and treating LGBT people like they are adulterers is wrong, needs to see the bible for what it really is: a fallible, man-made piece of folklore which belongs on the fiction shelf of the bookstore. An all-knowing God would surely have demonstrated understanding of all his people in a book long before modern times would present a new system of values.
While I do believe that there is a greater power that is responsible for the universe, I reject the notion that so many of these religions ask us to worship a God that barters with us, offering a prize at the end of a journey. And where is this God that religious books caricature, with his mighty oversight of the world? Someone commented on another blog that I read and got me really thinking: “Take a couple of minutes and think about all the things you would do if you were an all-powerful God… After you have accomplished that task, contemplate the fact you worship a God who hasn’t.” Perhaps this is the case because we have man made expectations of a man made version of what God really is. We worship through man made rules, with man made pomp and circumstance in man made buildings while marginalizing others for our own gain or imagined salvation. I left religion behind and feel closer to God for it.