The Problem with Religion

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“God has no religion.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

First things first, I want to start off by saying that this isn’t in any way a post about bashing your beliefs. Some points might anger you into thinking I’m mocking your religion but please take the time to read the rest. It’s merely what I’ve come to understand about it and my current thoughts on it. My beliefs are constantly changing with new knowledge and new lessons learned. In a years time I might even contradict what I say in this post. But without further interruption, lets begin.

My background with religion begins with being raised Christian, primarily Lutheran if there’s a need to get specific. I was baptised but not confirmed. My family never attended church on a regular basis and our faith wasn’t talked about that often. It was just common knowledge that we had our belief in Christ and that was that. I started attending a Lutheran youth group ministry in my early teens to late teens. I became active in the group and even sang and played drums in some worship songs. Also during my teenage years and into adulthood, I became part of a Christ-centered/Christian band called With a Voice. We played for about 4 years and had a blast meeting new people and in the beginning, spreading a message of hope through Christ. To my knowledge, though, most of our passion lied in the music, and less in the message we presented. As we progressed and grew as a band, we became less and less focused on our message and more on just being a band with realistic music that people could connect with. I, writing most of the lyrics and being the vocalist, moved further and further away from writing and talking about God or Christ and just focused on painful things I had gone through or other people I knew had gone through. I still held to my beliefs in a small way after the band called it quits. But something didn’t sit right within me. Everything I had once believed as a kid felt fake. I had to search for more answers that religion just wasn’t answering. On top of all of this, I began my road of recovering from my addiction on March 14, 2015. I’m still clean to this day. I thought my Christian faith would be restored after getting a clearer head. I actually ended up feeling more alone with more questions. This is what finally led me to move away from religion entirely and focus on my own spirituality and what it means to be spiritual. Here’s what I’ve come to believe so far:

Religion was created by humans. Humans created what we call religion today. Now don’t get religion mixed up with spirituality. Because I do believe that there is a spiritual connection in people that wasn’t created by us but in my opinion was always there. “God” didn’t create religion. Regardless of what religious text from whatever religion you are reading says, that book was written by humans for humans. And within those texts you find the basis of your religious faith. Without those books marking down every tenant of that religion, you are just left with spirituality. I believe religion was created to explain our spiritual longing. A longing to feel connected to something greater than us in some way. Or a longing to feel connected to each other in a deeper way than just physical. Both reasons are great reasons but they don’t need to be explained to be spiritual. I might still have a terrible amount of questions about life and everything beyond but I feel more content not knowing than trying to explain everything or being told what to believe by someone else.

Most, if not every, religion says that it is the one true way to “God.” Now here’s a point that does set me off in a way. This strong held belief is what keeps us from exploring the possibility that we might be wrong. It’s nature in humans to hate being proven wrong. So how do you not let that happen? Completely crush every other religion by saying that what you learned to believe is right and everyone else is wrong. It’s complete bullshit. Pardon my french but seriously?! This tenant is what actually kills people in wars or battles. One side following a different faith than the other side. The Christian who believes they are right is no different from the Muslim who believes they are right. In my opinion, both are wrong and both are right. I apologize for the paradox but the only way I’ve ever been able to explain this to my struggling mind is that “God” and spirituality can be what you need them to be. Here’s the disclaimer that I don’t think you are wrong for believing in whatever faith you have. I don’t expect you to agree with everything that I believe, which is what I would hope for from you to me. But there is a price to pay when it comes to believing that you are following “the one true way:”

Religion separates us. If you are to believe that you are right and everyone else is wrong, you are further separating yourself from the rest of the populace who believes differently. And not only have we been split up from religions but we have been split up from denominations of those religions. To me, the world we live in today doesn’t need to be more separated than it already is. Why keep the division so strong? The only outcome is pain from wars or from hurtful words.

Religion is controlled by people, not “God.” Christians go to church to listen to a pastor preach a sermon from a book that was written by people. Same goes for Jews or Muslims, in their own ways. And when people start thinking that they are speaking or hearing the words of “God,” chaos can easily happen. Because the word of “God” is so powerful to so many people, in the hands of humans, it can be destructive. Most, if not every, religion states that people are flawed and need the religion and their “God” to be saved. I do believe that yes, we are very flawed. But if I need this specific “God” and this specific religion, I’m still going to “hell” in the others. And that doesn’t sit well with me. Which brings me to my final point:

Religion keeps us from exploring and hinders our ability to progress. What a terrible feeling it is to be closed off from the rest of the world. I can’t speak for everyone but I was born with this need to explore and to learn. How am I to accomplish this by just sitting in one thought bubble my entire life? I’ve found such interesting things in what other religions or other people have explained as their spirituality. If I didn’t have an open mind and believed that I was right, I would have never grown to the extent that I have in the past year and a half. I would have never learned what I have. And to me, all the growth and knowledge has led to a more content me. Like I said, I still have just as many questions, but at least I’m not so separated from me to you. I can ask questions and not cringe at the answers.

I do believe that “God,” whatever he, she, it is, is within all of us. I don’t believe you are stupid or ignorant for believing in whatever religion or spirituality you follow. My only hope is that you expand your horizon more. Humans were meant to be connected in some way. So I implore you, go explore. Ask questions, take what you can use and leave the rest. As far as we know, we have this one life on Earth, unless we are being reincarnated. Which, if that’s the case, still means you should keep learning and keep exploring in every single life you get. Quit separating yourself from the rest of humanity. There’s a vast ocean of knowledge and a love for people as just people waiting out there for you to go dive into. So start diving, start learning, start exploring, start asking, and start loving.

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