I was raised to follow a religion. I am no longer follow any religion. That means I have intimate knowledge of what it means to be religious and not. And, in hindsight, I have to admit that following a religion makes zero sense to me.
I have no problem understanding “faith”. I’m not someone who needs evidence to believe in something – I’ve bought every one of Britney’s albums without once being presented with proof that she can actually sing. And I don’t consider a basic belief in God, god, gods, higher power, or any type of spiritual universal force as “religion”.
It’s only when you feel the need to wrap up your faith in a system of beliefs requiring adherence to some type of system (usually contained in a bible of some type) with a central organizing body that exists to police said adherence that you can truly be described as being “religious”.
So pitchforks down – I’m not questioning your belief per se. But I am totally questioning your need to codify that belief into a religion. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. They’re All About Rules
What to eat, when to eat, what to wear, how to act – religions are all about rules. Religion likes to paint itself as something special but actually it’s not that different from many other things humans do. What else in life else tells you what to eat? A diet. Who else in life tells you what to wear and how to cut your hair? The military. What else governs how we act? Legislation. Rules themselves aren’t something I dislike – just ask anyone who has played board games with me. But religion typically takes its rules from old, very old, rulebooks, written almost exclusively by men who were writing them in order to
control provide advice for others. So people are choosing to live by a code that likely has zero to do with modern life. We don’t live the way people did thousands of years ago. So why allow ourselves to be controlled by a manual written back then?
2. They Do The Heavy Thinking For You
Of course, when you follow something with a rulebook – especially a rulebook that tells you things as specific as who to love, who to drag into the village square and stone, and what to do on a certain day of week – you have given over a lot of your free will. And your brain. It must be very nice to have an outside organization that governs how to think. The rest of us have to make it up as we go. When I said “it must be very nice” actually I mean “awful” because who wants their thoughts dominated by someone else’s agenda?
3. They Want Tax Free Status But Also The Right To Act Politically
Religions love to meddle in political matters – sponsoring anti-abortion laws, anti-gay rights laws, anti-women laws – yet they think they should pay no taxes. But the work of churches is charitable, supporters say! Actually, no. A religion might run a charity that exists to support others. But the religion itself isn’t charitable – it’s completely self-serving. It exists only to promote its own existence. Want the right to act politically – then do what the rest of us do and pay your fair share.
4. They’re Often More About A Person Than The Actual Religion
It won’t come as a surprise to learn that I despise slick evangelist preachers. Actually, I despise anyone who paints himself or herself as having a special connection to “God”. Let’s be honest, these men and women prey on people stupid enough to believe them. But the people do believe them, elevating these religious leaders to exulted status and making their leaders rich and powerful in the process. Faithful people talk about preachers as though they are deities when in fact they’re hucksters – they’re the politicians of religion, don’t trust any of them.
5. They Don’t Need To Exist
There is no reason you need religion in order to worship/believe in/talk to a higher power. If you think God exists then talk to him/her/it/them. Religion isn’t wifi, you can connect direct to your deity without it. Any religious person who has said their prayers at night should know this. But religions have made people think they need to follow their rules in order to worship properly, that they need to financially support the religion to worship properly, that they need to spread the religion to others to worship properly.
And that last fact is religion’s greatest achievement. It’s a virus that compels followers to infect others – fooling people not only into believing it should exist, but that it should be spread.