Friday, September 7, 2012

Struggles with Religion, or Lack Thereof

I was thinking a lot about religion in my life.  There aren't any pictures here.  Just lots of words that you can read if you so desire.

So, I was raised Catholic, but haven't regularly gone to church in about 4 years.  The entire time I was going to church while growing up I never felt anything.  I felt no connection to the words I was saying or what I was told that I "believed."  I just felt like I was pretending.  In 8th grade my catechism teacher told my class that anyone that wasn't a Catholic was going to hell.  My father isn't religious, and at that time my autistic sister didn't do anything church related.  I had a breakdown about how my religion could be so cruel to the people that I loved.  My senior year of High School the sermons became more political and at one point we were told how "good Catholics" are supposed to vote.  That was the final straw for me and I decided to take a hiatus from church.

During this hiatus I realized that I did not feel like anything was "missing" from my life.  I never prayed or went to chapel at Alma or did anything concerning religion.  And I was totally ok with it.  I took a course on Evolution and loved it.  As I took more history classes I learned more about other religions and religions that no longer exist.  I had a realization that I don't really think that there is one "true" or "right" religion and that in 1,000 years or more todays religions could very well be akin to the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

I am completely ok with what I believe, or don't believe.  However, the rest of society does not.  I've read a few articles that say that atheists or those who aren't religious are the most hated group of people in the country.  This absolutely terrifies me.  I am now living in the South where religion is a huge part of peoples' lives.  I'm worried that if they ask me about my religious views and I tell them that I don't have any that I will be shunned, exiled or hated.

Another thing I struggle with is living by the Alpha Gamma Delta purpose.  There is one line "To honor my home, my country, my religious faith."  How do I stay truthful to the purpose when I feel like I don't have or want a religious faith?

I know that religion can bring good things into peoples' lives but I feel like my life is as fulfilling and worthwhile as it can be.  I don't really desire anything spiritual or religious.  I know that I'm going to face some harsh criticism from many people and I don't know how to handle it.

Because of my lack of religion I tend to see things more realistically.  Like when people say "My dad recovered from his illness.  God is so good!" I tend to think "How can you just take credit away from the medical researchers, doctors and nurses who worked their asses off to get him healed?"  I guess I just think that people are responsible for their own fate and the fate of others and that there really isn't any intervention from an outside power, that we are all connected to each other.

I believe in people, I believe in nature and evolution and science.  I believe that religion has important qualities to people and that it is extremely interesting to study.  However, I don't believe that religion is right for me.  I believe that I can be a good person without the "moral compass" of religion and that if I do have children, I can teach them right from wrong.  Not because of what a Holy book says, but because of what is actually right and wrong.

I suppose that the Alpha Gamma Delta purpose is the closest thing I have to a Bible or anything of that sort.  Aside from the clause about religion, it is a perfect description of how I want to live my life.

I am completely satisfied with my life and how I am living it.  I just worry about how it is going to go over with others.  Its not something that I should worry about but I do.  Religion is so important to people and I don't want them to think less of me because its not important to me.

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