Wikipedia’s definition:” Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist has called “an order of existence“. Different religions may or may not contain various elements, ranging from the “divine“, “sacred things”, “faith“, a “supernatural being or supernatural beings” or “…some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life.” is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist has called “an order of existence“. Different religions may or may not contain various elements, ranging from the “divine“, “sacred things”, “faith“, a “supernatural being or supernatural beings” or “…some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life.”
I was raised in a Catholic home. I was taught to Fear God, and Worship Jesus Christ. I was taught that I was born into sin, that I was a sinner. I was taught how to pray.
I was taught that there was a heaven and a hell, and that I would only make it to the former if I followed the Catholic Church’s rules to the letter, was baptized, never got divorced, was not gay, did not take the Lord’s name in vain, went to confession regularly (for absolution), attended Church every Sunday, did not question the authority of the Monsignor’s role as God’s interpreter, genuflected before the life-sized image of Christ, bloodied and dying nailed to a Cross.
I was taught to sit, to kneel, to stand, to chant and sing with the rest of the congregation on cue.
I was taught that no matter what I did in my life, I would always be a sinner.
I was taught that I was unworthy of a direct relationship with God, and that the only way I would ever be able to have any kind of relationship with God, was through Jesus Christ.
I was taught that the only truth for mankind was in the Holy Bible. I was taught that Catholics would be the only ones that God would save, that it was imy job to make sure I did everything I could to bring those lost sheep who worshipped false gods, to my church, so that they could be saved from the fires of hell that would burn eternal, for those who were not of the Catholic faith.
There were Jews, Lutherans, Mormons, Baptists, Episcopalians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodists, and a few other miscellaneous “Christian” Churches in the town where I grew up. It didn’t matter that most of them read from the same Holy Bible that I did, or that they too believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. They would not be going to Heaven when they died, because they were not Catholic. Period.
These were the religious “truths” I was taught from birth. Catholic Dogma was drummed into my head, and I believed it. I had never been exposed to any other religious concept or spiritual ideal, thus I believed in the Catholic Religion. I did not feel the need to question its authority, nor whether this was right or wrong, I did not know anything but what I had been told was truth by the Priests of the Catholic Church.
I did what I was told, without question. I did what all “Good Catholics” were taught to do so that when I died, I would go to Heaven.
Today, I consider myself a “Recovering Catholic”.
After many years of self-discovery, research into other religions and much soul searching, I decided to leave the Catholic Church. This was a difficult decision for me because all of my knowledge with regard to esoteric (spiritual) things was deeply enmeshed in Catholicism. I was worried about what might happen to my soul should I turn my back on Catholicism, yet I knew that I did not feel comfortable with the many hypocrasies that I had found in the Church’s teachings .
I am comfortable with my own spirituality. I believe what I believe and would never fjudge or condemn another person because they do not believe as I do. I believe that there is truth in all religions, and in all faiths. I have spent a great deal of time learning about other religions. The common denominator in all of them I have found is LOVE.
What if I had been born in a different part of the world?
Our world sadly, has become a place where acts committed by terrorists are common. Those who are committing these acts are doing so in the name of their Creator. Had I been born in an area where this was the chosen religion, what woudl I believe? Would I follow the Church’s teachings? Would I do whatever I was told to insure my passage into Heaven?
How can a religious group justify killing a person simply because they call their Creator by a different name? Are we not all given the gift of life from the same Source, no matter what we are taught to call him/her?
It wasn’t all that long ago in Salem, Massachusetts, when many innocent people were killed in the name of “God”. These were horrific murders. The victims were tortured in cruel and horribly painful ways then their bloodied, bruised and broken bodies were tied to a stake and burned while still alive.
Throughout the history of all religion, there have been senseless murders. The killing of those who did not conform or convert to the religion that was deemed the “Only True Religion”. Tens of thousands have been slaughtered becuase they refused to renounce their faith and take up the faith of another.
As I am writing, there is yet another terrorist attack. This time, at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey. My heart goes out to the victims of this senseless violence. Why? Why? Why?
What does this accomplish? What does this prove? What possibly can be gained from the taking of innocent lives? What right does anyone have to erase the life of another human being…People who were just doing what they needed to do in their daily lives, sadly in the wrong place at the right time, victims of a fucking whack job religious zealot fighting a so called holy war.
I am angry. I am horrified. I am sad beyond measure. When does it stop?
What is the purpose of these murders? What do these murdering bastards hope to attain with all of this killing? I have tried to wrap my mind around the concept of taking innocent lives as a means to gain passage into Heaven, and I cannot.
I cannot comprehend such evil being rewarded by anything but the same. Why can we not learn from our history? Each generation has its religious zealots and with each generation it gets more violent, and even more senseless.
I hope that one day, we humans come to realize that we are the same. We are Human Beings. We were born, we live and we will die. How we live our given lives is what matters.
We are given this life, all of us, not to destroy that which we feel is different. We just may be here to love, to help one another, to learn from the mistakes of the past and throw out the shit that we have been taught. To think for ourselves, to think of others, to feel, to care, to just be.
My religion? None.
I believe in love, understanding, compassion, wisdom, forgiveness…life.