I was reading about prejudice the other day at an online newspaper website, and it inevitably turns into a religion debate in the comments.The story was about sexual orientation prejudice, and it didn’t take long for the religious people to start commenting how there should be prejudice against homosexuals and all sorts of shit. Of course, this leads me to thinking about one of the things I most often think about: religions. I talk about it often with friends, acquaintances, strangers. It’s something very present on my mind, because most people I know are religious of some sort.
I often tell them I don’t believe in religions, not at all. Not in the sense that I don’t believe what religions say (which I mostly don’t, but that’s not the point), but as in, I don’t believe their existence is a positive thing to the world and humanity as a whole. “Why?”, you must be asking yourself. Let’s start thinking about it historically. When Churches were created, the people who held the religious power were the same people who held the social, political and economical power. We’ve seen many times throughout History how these people used religious “beliefs” as to earn money (selling indulgences, as an example, among so many others), status and manipulate society to behave in a way that would guarantee this power dominance. They used God’s name, as a threat to people, to do what they wanted them to do, or they wouldn’t be saved or go to Heaven or whatever. And I think that’s absurd. And you may think that was just a phase and it changed throughout the time, but I beg to disagree.
Nowadays, Churches continue full of particularities like this. To be fair, its mostly not an economical issue anymore, but it’s still about status. It’s still about “being right” over others. It’s still about getting people to behave the way they (the church) believe it’s right. You think the concept of Sins. Pretty simple, you sin, you must repent it, not do it again, or you won’t go to Heaven. Fair deal, right? But, what IS a sin? Who says what’s a sin and what’s not? (Again, I’m using sin as an example, but, please, insert here the equivalent of other religions). The Bible, they’ll say. God’s word, they’ll say. All right. Let’s talk about the Bible for a second.
The Bible is claimed, by millions of people, to be God’s words. Well… newsflash, God did not come down here and told everyone that’s what he wanted people to do. Men did that. It’s an undeniable truth. It doesn’t matter how much you believe what’s written in that book, it doesn’t make that true. It doesn’t matter how sure you are of what’s there, it doesn’t make it real. NO ONE KNOWS! The Bible is an amazing Historical book, it reflects habits, beliefs, lifestyle of when it was written and before that, like any great History book. I believe it’s a very valuable Historical document, but nothing besides that. And so many people base all their beliefs and lifestyle on a thousands of year old book of doubtful origins as if it’s the surest thing in the world.
So, back to the Sins. They are told by an organization which comes from the times from social dominance by the church, based on a really old book which is said to contain God’s words — except that there’s no proof that God himself had anything to do with that — that they shouldn’t do this or that, because, then, we’ll be punished for it. By God. When poor God hasn’t really claimed that to have any sort of authenticity. Imagine this. To me, that’s the same as someone getting into a room full of people, claiming to know what you want, what you think, what you believe, and, then, telling all these people that if they don’t do as you think they should do, [insert your name here] will punish them all.” That’s using your name as a threat to get people to behave like they want them to. Wouldn’t that piss you off? Yeah, exactly.
That’s my problem with religions, in general, they’re based in suppositions. They suppose they know what God would want from them and from others. And it’s so hard for them to understand that they DON’T KNOW! No one does. It doesn’t matter how much they believe they know for sure, how much they believe in miracles and sacred books, it’s all a matter of belief. That’s NOT the ultimate truth, Dude. It doesn’t matter how much you believe it is. And I think that lack of humility to acknowledge that, that they don’t really know what’s the right way to live — they only know what they believe and that’s what they follow — is what really gets to me.
I don’t think I hold the ultimate truth. I have my beliefs and what I choose to be the way I want to live. But I don’t tell people that’s the only way to be, that’s how they should behave too or they’re all going to hell. Even because, I believe it doesn’t really matter. I don’t think it matters to God, and I DO believe in God, with all my heart and soul, that we follow a certain religion or certain codes of morals. I don’t believe for a single second that God gives a damn about who we sleep with or if we sleep with them before marriage. I don’t believe God cares if we don’t go to church every Sunday, or if we don’t believe in church or religion at all. I believe all God truly wants from us is kindness, good, towards one another and ourselves. Respect other people and human life, treasure them, it, no matter the differences. And that’s it.
I believe life is a learning experience, a journey, and we grow, as spirits, as we learn humility, as we learn to admit we don’t know everything, we’re not certain of anything. As I write all of this, I’m totally and completely open to the possibility that I may be wrong. Maybe, one of the religions out there is right. And if it’s one of the stricter religions, then I’m really, really screwed, because, man, I haven’t had my first communion or any other after that (I was baptized into the catholic church because my grandparents made my mom do so), I haven’t said some words and accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior, I don’t pray five times a day turned to Mecca, and, goddammit, I haven’t said anything to acknowledge my earthly family as my spiritual family. Or there could have nothing. No. Thing. Not. A Damn. Thing. after we die. Maybe it’s gone and poof. I don’t know. No one knows. I only know what I believe.
What I do know is that I’ve made my choice. I live my life trying to be the best person I can. I pray, for guidance, for forgiveness, to thank God, for protection. I believe. I try to be good to others, even though I know I’m not the greatest person all the time. And I truly believe and hope that’s enough.
I believe God’s much, much, much more Merciful than religions lay Him out to be. At least, my God is. And, really, if He wasn’t, I don’t think I’d be so devoted to Him.
Lastly, I’d like to end this out with a quote, which I believe is probably the best quote on religions I’ve ever heard, and I whole-heartdly agree with it. I don’t know who’s it by, but that was a smart person right there.
“Religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one. It’s fine to be proud of it. But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around,
And PLEASE don’t try to shove it down my children’s throats.”
What about you? What’s YOUR take on religions, in general? 🙂