Merriam Webster defines religion as:
: the belief in a god or in a group of gods
: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
: an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.
Let’s get that out of the way before I even start.
I was born and baptized into the Catholic Church.
I was put in a white “wedding dress” for my 1st Holy Communion and marched down the aisle of the basilica with a throng of other little girls to affirm our commitment to the church.
I was escorted from my classroom with all my other classmates and, in single-file, marched next door to the Catholic Church to “confess my sins” to a mysterious cloaked man behind the screen in the next cubicle (most of the time I made up my sins to make them “juicier”, because other-wise “father” would think I wan’t coming completely clean). Then he would tell me go back out into the pew, kneel, and recite 10 Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s for penance…PRAYER AS PUNISHMENT. Hmm. Even as an child, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the reasoning of this.
Then came the scandal. It was discovered that my very own family were victims of church leaders who brutally physically and sexually abused them as children. Needless to say, I needed no other reason to say good-bye to Catholicism.
Before the scandal was ever discovered, I was searching for something to believe in that made more sense in my head. Parents of a friend of mine were Jehovah’s Witnesses. One evening during a sleepover, I was given a long, but interesting, take on their beliefs. Then I was given a choice…salvation or damnation. I told her I would think about things and get back to her at breakfast. I decided to give it a go. I went to worship with them once, but decided that it wasn’t what I was looking for.
When I found myself pregnant at age 26 and on my own, I was invited to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I found immediate acceptance and “conditional” love. I will elaborate some other time about why I say “conditional”. But it was enough for me. They were offering me everything I needed: emotional support and financial/material help to get on my feet.
I ended up marrying an older man in a different province who was known as a respected, upstanding member of the church. My short-lived marriage to him told me otherwise. I left him, and the church, after realizing that what I was accepting as truth was no longer true for me…and that I was falling in love with a man who would become my present husband – a man who is still teaching me that I don’t need “religion” to be a beautiful, faithful, compassionate, respectful member of the human race.
Don’t get me wrong. I respect all faiths, but when faith turns to religion, and those religious beliefs form the basis of pain and destruction, then I say F*@k religion. Need an example? I can give you thousands. Religious persecution, wars, terrorism, cults…the list is endless.
It’s time to start RESPECTING each other’s faith, LOVING each other despite our different beliefs, ACCEPTING our differences, and VALUING each person as fellow human beings. It’s time to STOP the god-damned madness. Fighting back and wiping our religious enemies from the face of the earth is NOT the answer, at least not because our religion is better (or truer) than theirs. How many prayers are sent up to heaven asking God or Allah to put an end to what we want to end? God has not ended it. That’s up to us. We need to just STOP. Because if it doesn’t, the only sure thing to come from all this religion is death.