This blog post is angry, shouty, incoherent and out of order. It is going to upset a lot of people. If you are one of them, I’m sorry. If you can’t handle my personal rant without hating me, please don’t read this.
I’m through with religion. There, I’ve said it. With one sentence I have alienated half the people that I know. I hope they can look past it. I am not looking to break my friendship with anyone.
How we live our lives
Religion promises a life after death. A better life. So why is it that so many believers seem to take that as a reason to make the current life into hell on earth? Religions have done good things, of course. They are responsible for running charities that bring help and comfort throughout the world. There are some awesome Christian charities fighting for social justice, helping the most desperate people to build a better life. But this isn’t all good. The same charities, the same people, have opinions on other things. They tell people that condoms are evil; those people don’t seem to realise that sleeping with 20 women without a condom and spreading HIV to them all is even more evil. Depriving people of medical procedures they need because you disagree with them is evil.
Medicine and healing
Religion causes people to put off medical treatment because they know that prayer will fix things. Worse, religion causes people to deprive their children of medical treatment. We have science and medicine which we know work, how on earth can anyone justify shunning that for just prayer? The recent example of staff at a hospital being punished by the church for performing an abortion to save a mothers life infuriated me. Apparently the correct decision was to let both mother and baby die, or to sidestep the rules by finding a less effective alternative treatment that might abort the baby as a side effect. That’s just splitting hairs to save face and defend a stupid decision by the church.
I am also frustrated with christians judging others by whether they are healed or not. I was at a christian conference a while ago and they dedicated one session to praying for healing. It did not take very long before I walked out of there. Being told that if I have faith I would be healed makes me want to scream at people. I had faith. The people praying for me had faith. I have not been healed, even after many prayer sessions. I have only to look at the illnesses both of my parents suffer to see that it is not so simple as have faith = cured but people say it at every healing service and prayer session. When I have objected with this logic, I have been told that perhaps god has plans for using my sickness. I hate that even more. At the same conference where I walked out of a healing session, the story of St Therese was told. Apparently she could not leave her bed, and could not eat anything except communion wafers. She would spend her time praying until god told her the name of a sinner, and then she would ‘suffer for them’ until they repented. What kind of a sick sadistic logic is that? I completely reject it.
Relationship with god
As a christian I had believed that in heaven we would praise god forever. To be honest, I have never understood it. I have enjoyed praising god here on earth. When I have been at church, worshipping god, singing, or playing guitar with the band, I have been caught up in the moment, experienced the joy, the euphoria of worship. And yet I can’t see doing that constantly for all time as a desireable thing. I always assumed that it would make sense when I got there.
Why do we need to worship god anyway? Is he an egomaniac? If I created an Artificial Intelligence (unlikely, even if I did study it at degree level.) would I program it to worship me? I don’t think so. If it were truly intelligent, that would be abuse as far as I can tell. Slavery. Perhaps the created should feel some need to worship the creator, to honour him, but why should that be built in as a necessary response? If god does want us to worship him, he has been pretty crap about telling us. Yes, I know we are told that he visited us 2000 years ago and that we must have faith. I know the story of doubting Thomas. I know the famous verse “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Bullshit. You’re god. You have a physical manifestation. Get down here and show us you exist! Cut all the mystical crap. You want the people to know you and love you, how about you talk to us all? We’re not supposed to believe in other things without evidence, why should you set such a bad example?
Of course Christians are going to claim that I have obviously never experienced a proper relationship with god, otherwise I could not say these things. Well if I haven’t, it’s not down to doing the wrong things or lack of opportunity. I repented of my sins. I was truly sorry. I prayed. I knew that I wouldn’t hear an actual voice, in my head or outside it, but that god would speak to me through reading the bible, through mysterious promptings to do something, to say something. He would speak to me through other people. And I believed all of this, I really did. I acted on what people said to me and on what I read. I prophesied. I told people what I thought god was trying to tell them. So why is it that every prayer time was an effort and I always wanted to do something else?
I have been told that I must believe in god because I have been so blessed. Well I don’t see it that way any more. Yes, I have had some amazingly good things happen to me. Houses, jobs, money and so on coming through at just the right time, or through amazing generousity of others. But I have had so much shit as well. I have ME. I have diabetes. I suffer from chronic, frequent migraines. I had anal fissure, abscess and fistula. That’s just the physical side of things. I’ve also had a terrible time getting work. I’ve had plenty of plans not work out. I’ve been bankrupt because of illness. I don’t believe any more that those were just because what I was doing was not gods plan. It’s called bad luck, and it definitely outweighs the good luck in my life.
The Catholic Church
Then there is the Catholic church. Don’t get me started. I tried to defend them for years. At first I was defending Catholics from accusations by protestants. At university I defended against all the usual stuff, that Catholics worship Mary, that Catholics don’t hold the bible as the ultimate authority, etc etc. In the end I left the Catholic church because of a mixture of their attitude to other christians and also of many of the things that non-christians accuse them of. But then so many other things came out. Condoms and Aids. Sexual abuse. Supposedly these are the same old accusations. Perhaps that’s beacause, just consider this for a moment, PERHAPS THEY’RE TRUE. I know they’re not the only ones that have done some of this stuff, but they’re particularly good at covering things up and avoiding prosecution and punishment. How is that right?
Condemnation of homosexuals
I can’t stand the attitude of most christians towards homosexuals. The bible condemns sex outside of marriage as much as homosexuals. Probably more. Yet most christians think homosexuality is the worst sin imaginable. Pastors that have been married three times stand at the front of their church and shout that all gay people are evil. Christians vote to deprive gay people of legal protection for them and their partners. They deprive them of marriage, or even civil partnerships. They seem to think that being gay is a choice, that gay people are somehow trying to recruit people to be gay. Their hatred blinds them to any rational reasoning on this. This seems to be changing, christians my age and younger seem far less bothered by a persons sexuality, but that might just be the people that I know. It was african christians that convinced the UN to change the law and stop condemming the killing of homosexuals. I have no words to express how angry that makes me.
This is an example typical of the christian response that I can’t stand. Speaking about the web site reselling that is part of his business, this person said “if someone wants a gay website, we just can’t do it.” [Meaning reselling to anyone] WTF? A GAY website? What’s a gay website? What about my friends blog? Is that a ‘gay website?’ He’s gay, he writes about his life, so it fits doesn’t it?
I have had enough. I don’t want religion to damage so many people. I won’t be a different person without religion, I will still feel compassion for people, help whoever I can, fight against social injustice. I’m sorry to my friends who are still believers. Perhaps one day you will show me that I am wrong. I remain open to that possibility. I am not an atheist. I’m going to settle for agnostic.
Before any christians jump in assuming that I don’t know my stuff, be aware that I grew up in a christian community, (30 christians living together) I have been a christian for more than 25 years, and I used to lead worship and play guitar at my christian union, various churches and prisons.
And so, in the words of Stephen Fry: Religion. Shit it.
Related article: On scepticism and god