Why I’m Not Religious

This article from Scientific American frustrates me a little because it’s about interesting topics, but they only skate the surface and it sounds more like conjecture than a supportable argument.

But it raises an interesting point.

There is a lot of judgment out there against atheists. There’s this deluded impression, I’ve found, that being religious somehow means you have a moral code that others do not.

What? Because I don’t go to church, I’d steal from your grandmother, hit-and-run your car, and cheat on my taxes? Bullshit.

Sorry, kids, morality’s just a little bit more complicated than where I park my ass for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. God’s got nothing to do with how ethically I choose to live my life.

Here’s the thing.

I’m not religious today BECAUSE I was raised religious. I was so Catholic I’d go to church as much as 6 days a week. Used to tell the non-believer kids in the ‘hood about the sermons, and they’d listen, too.

I loved me some Jesus when I was a kid.

When I was in high school, I had a priest who told us a classmate was going to hell because she committed suicide. And then we had a teacher, who I thankfully never had classes with, who was discovered to be sexually abusing boys. He went to jail. But around the school we were talking and it seems the Arch Diocese knew for as much as five years about the teacher’s abuse.

The details on the story are hazy for me now and searching the web proves futile as I only know remember him by “Mr. [redacted].”

It’d be some years before I came to believe what Ken Kesey preached, that if you weren’t able to worship what you call God in your backyard, he wasn’t gonna be in no church, either.

I learned at the age of 13 that men are corrupt, so all religions are corrupt. And I fell hard from my pedestal of faith. We found out shortly after the child molesting thing that our elementary school Monsignor had been in a relationship with a woman for more than 2 decades. He had to leave the church.

I decided, if God needs me to join a club to prove I believe, then he’s got really, really low self-esteem, because look at some of the members! Let’s not even talk about Creationism, which is a slap in the face at everything God’s capable of, if you’re to believe the book of Genesis in the first place. If God’s so omnipotent, the idea of the Big Bang and millions of years of evolution speak far louder about a God’s powers than this dumbed-down “The Earth is 6,000 years old” bullshit practiced by people too blind to see science is a faith too.

Anyhoo. I was raised Catholic. I was raised to respect others, be kind, be honest, and all that ethicky jazz. I maintain those values. I just don’t figure God anywhere in the picture.

I live my life with virtue because I need to respect myself in the morning. I may not have money, fame, and everything I dream of, but I do have self-respect, and it comes from living up to how I was raised. Ain’t any church that’s gonna change that about me. My ethics guide my life and always will.

Ethics and the Vatican aren’t exactly in bed together, though. Look at the Catholic Church: With properties and assets, it’s about the most powerful and richest organization in the world. But we don’t know that for sure, because the books are kept pretty tight. The Vatican is literally its own nation-state, remember. For insurance purposes, its incredibly vast collection of artwork is valued at about an euro each, according to some reports. This MSNBC report states the Catholic Church received more than $8 billion in donations in 2003 alone. Never mind tax write-offs, present-day property values, or any of that.

And look at the Evangelical movement in the USA, where preachers are VERY well-paid rockstars ministering to the thousands. Yeah. And Jesus, Mohammad, and Buddha lived as paupers. No disconnect there at all.

If you really believe in Jesus and Christianity, then you believe Jesus threw the merchants from the temple. He didn’t believe money and faith went hand-in-hand.

It’s a mockery, what we have today for religion. It’s everything Christ never wanted. Churches hold the riches today, and look at the average person. Not so rich.

Yet I’m morally bankrupt because I don’t practice and celebrate that mockery of everything Christ stood for?

Don’t tell me religion today is moral when it shouts down the search for human rights for gays. Don’t tell me the Catholic Church has the high ground when it had as its Pope for the last decade or so a Holocaust apologist. Don’t tell me faiths that take in more money than they give back to the poor are doing what God wants of them.

Religion today is nothing of what it has been written as in the Bible. It’s sanctimony and judgment. Church is where the dollar talks and transparency walks.

Unfortunately, there are good people caught up in that sanctimony and judgment. There are fine Christians in the world, and admirable Muslims, and wonderful Jews. While I rail against religion, I do not rail against the believers, not if they are moral, kind people. But being a believer in religion does not mean one is indeed moral or kind, and that’s why I state there’s that prerequisite.

I will not hold your religion against you if you do not hold my lack thereof against me.

Seems a fair trade.

It is absolutely my moral code which keeps me from practicing religion. Until faiths are led by men and women I can admire and respect, I will turn instead to worshipping nature and the world around me, and living my life as I would have had I found a church worthy of my faith.

I would put my ethics against anyone’s. I absolutely know who I am at heart, and if there were more of me, and less pious sanctimony, this would be a really nice world to live in.

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3 Comments

  1. Wyld Stallyn
    Posted March 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Religion today is nothing of what it has been written as in the Bible. It’s sanctimony and judgment.“
    If I remember my passages correctly, at least judgment is very much what was written in the bible. The only parts I know where it doesn’t feature prominently are Solomon’s erotic poem to whoever it was he had the hots for and some parts in the second half that talk about some dude, but the ending *makes more than up for it*.
    Even the psalms have some of that shit, beginning in the very first one.

    And science is much less a “faith” than it is a method. Science is all about testing and testing and testing and criticising and testing and testing and scrutinizing and discarding and improving, and if you’re doing it right (like so very few people do…) you’d even discard your own assumptions if the data shows you’re wrong, no matter how *faithful* you were that they were accurate. Science is about removing error from the quota (in particular human one as that’s the biggest problem, just look at all the fallacies people came up with) not embracing it.
    Of course, you can have “faith in science” in the sense I believe you may mean it, but that is generally only the case when you don’t understand science very well.

    I’d like to defend religion here for a moment though. The problem is not the religion, it is always the politics and ideology behind it. That may seem like semantics, but you realise it’s not when you remember that it doesn’t take faith in a weird cosmic order spirit thingy or something to rob, deceive and kill, it’s determination that you’re right. Hitler may have been a Catholic or he may not have been, but Stalin and Mao definitely weren’t Orthodox nor Taoist.

    Just remember that e.g. the Jacobins were fiercely anti-clerical, and that e.g. World Vision and the Unitarian church are deeply religious organisations.

    Religion is just a really stupid looking way to wear your clothes, no matter what kind of clothes they are.

  2. Scott
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you whole heatedly. It amazes me that our society has decided that if your not Christian primarily that you’re hell bound and your moral fiber as well as character are of a lesser quality. Regardless of the religion, how one deals with issues, people, and situations, comes from with in themselves. And if they have the courage to be totally true to who they are in the face of ridicule rather than to try and assimilate/fit in to concepts they disagree with for acceptance, then those are people of the quality I tend to like.

  3. Strange__guy
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I too, held a rather disparaging view of organized religion for quite some time, despite maintaining what I viewed as living a spiritual life.

    We all have our own reasons for walking/running away from wholesale religion and I could list the many hypocritical actions of steadfast believers, priests etc etc.

    At some point though, I was able to see that it was “man” that I had my issues with and not the “word”. The “word” was a thing of beauty, and love, and forgiveness and all those wonderful things we were taught and shown during our education in our faith. Once I got past all the human imposed filters I had erected and came back to the basics of it all, I was able to find my way back home to my Catholic roots. No longer did the imperfect “man”, who shook my hand and wished me the peace of Christ in church and then used the same hand to flip me the bird as he cut me off in his rush to get out of the parking lot, come between me and my faith. Or the people you would see in the pews, so righteous and virtuous, who later said their were children were of an age to eat off the kiddy menu or get the kiddy pricing at the movies, no longer did they have control over my relationship with God.

    Hell yes I struggled with the things that seemed so out of place, like hell, the death of innocents, disease so rampant, child abuse. WTF, what rational person wouldn’t look at that shit and question it’s existence? Yes yes some of my examples seem so petty and trite and I could dredge up tons of shit that make my point but really what does it matter?

    I’m sure that all sounds goofy and all that but hey it’s what happened for me, God never left me, I left God and coming back was a gift.

    Hey it was my return to faith that really brought about my full embrace of sexuality and the gift given to us by God to use our man/women parts to fully enjoy and explore the spirituality of sexual relations, which somehow is what lead me to your writings in the first place a few years back. If God didn’t love us so much, why would he create us the way he did! For real now, orgasm is not a gift from a loving and caring God? Or multiple orgasms not a gift to women? IMO God is good and if a guy/gal is a lousy lay well then I just don’t see how that can be God’s fault.

    I do realize this is a somewhat dated post BUT, it was new to me when I got here.

    Don’t mind me tho, I’m just some strange__guy from the interweb thingy.

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