Religion and Jesus
Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus by bball1989
Word from my point of view
The other day a Facebook friend posted a video on my wall. It was a rap about religion and how Jesus Christ hated religion. Controversial for sure. Food thought definitely. I have been conflicted for many years on the subject of religion. I believe myself to be spiritual, having a firm belief in the existence of God and the fact Jesus Christ did walk the earth and was a holy man. But, religion....eh not so much.
The problem with religion, as Bball1989 states in his rap, is that it is man-made, imperfect and for the most part a fictional idea of Jesus Christ's teachings. I do admit, I have tried to follow and adhere to the teachings of several religions, but I always stray from regular attendance at any church because I get disgusted with the politics, the gossip, the hypocrisy and the conspicuous wealth of the Priest or Minster who contrary to his vow of poverty fails to follow Jesus. Jesus after all wore sandals and robes walking this earth among the poor and sick so why do you Mr. Minister need to drive your Mercedes to church in your $1,000 suits and Louie Vuitton's? Most religious leaders from what I have witnessed (yea you heard me JWs, I've witnessed) can talk the talk but refuse to walk the walk. As they say: money talks, BS walks.
In my life, I have followed the religions of Jehovah Witnesses (born into it not willingly a follower), Catholicism, Fundamentalism, Episcopalism, and Baptist. All of these religions, unfortunately, failed to live up the grand expectations I had as finally being "The One" for me.
The Jehovah Witnesses really let me down-big time. I was about 15 years old when I was literally kicked out of the "organization" as they JW's call their "church". Why did the Jehovies (as my husband refers to them) not want me? I was an inquisitive child and thus I was a bad example to the other kids my age and probably a few adults too. I questioned. I wanted answers. I needed proof for what the Jehovah Witnesses were teaching. Why was it wrong to salute the flag of our country? Why did we not celebrate Christmas? Why were not allowed to socialize with "worldly" people ( means those who are not Jehovah's Witnesses) Such insightful questions from one so young did not win me accolades from the elders for being intelligent. It won me negative attention and ostracism.
I was called before a meeting of the "overseers" a fancy term used by JWs to describe a band of men who without election by majority, set themselves up to be judge and jury about any member of the congregation who seems to be failing to tow the line. Anyone who is not conforming. Like any dictatorship, the leaders like conformers and despise independent thinkers.
The committee decided I needed to be "silenced" and band me from any socializing with others I could still attend their "meetings" (what the JW call church services) but I was forbidden any interaction.The elders would announce my banishment at the next meeting. Fine by me I thought to myself. I do not want to be a part of your dysfunctional religion anyway.
The problem was since I had not been baptized into the "faith" (I use quotes because in my interpretation of faith, the Jehovah Witnesses are lacking. They are more a cult), the elders could not completely banish me by "disfellowship" a term they use to which is essentially ex-communication. My parents though were baptized and I suppose to strike fear into the other followers, the elders decided to disfellowship my parents to send a message to the rest. The message? Do not allow your children to question, seek answers. Teach them to follow blindly and believe without question anything the elders preach to youl
To my parents, this was a fate worse then death. Their entire life was tied up in the Jehovah Witnesses. All of their friends were Jehovah Witnesses. Their source of entertainment was going to the 4 times a week "meetings" or after service potluck dinners. To say my parents were devastated by being disfellowshiped is an understatement.
After age 15 my life went from bad to worse. To escape my home life and the sadness reaped upon my family by their being kicked to the curb by the Jehovies, I ended up getting married at 16 just to get relief from it all. I had no ambition to go to college, travel, explore new things. Why should I? The JWs teach the World will end and the tongues of the "worldly" will rot in their mouths. Surely I was part of the World now and would soon die, so why bother getting an education. My parents believed the same, therefore, they signed off on wedding plans, something I needed to be legally married.
Obviously, the marriage did not work out. No surprises there. I spent my 20s getting an education and learning skills that would offer me stable employment with a decent income. I was able to support myself, live on my own and travel. I overcame many things in my 20s. Mostly I let go of my fearfulness.
Fear was taught and learned as a Jehovah Witness. When I was not more than 5 years old, the children would be separated into groups with an older person, usually called a "Pioneer" (someone who was supported by the organization and traveled around selling the organizations Watchtower). The Pioneer had a book with very graphic pictures showing what would happen in the end times. The pictures were gory and very frightening to a child. Now days, probably not very frightening but in 1960s Los Angeles, very scary to a young girl. Fear along with panic attacks, excessive drinking and more than my share of bad relationships were things I needed to work through during my early twenties.
In my late 20s, I married again. This time an Irish Catholic boy who never attended public school and was the product of devout and strict Catholic parents. To marry him, I converted and agreed our children would be raised Catholic.
I upheld my end of the deal. My husband (now my EX) did not as he was a professed atheist. When our children were born, however, my atheist husband insisted they be baptized Catholic and we join a parish because he wanted them to attend Catholic schools and for the most part, you need to be baptized especially if you want to attend the popular catholic schools. Ones that are not so popular will accept non-catholic students because they need the tuition. Yep...they are a business and not so nicey-nice as I soon learned.
Part of being a parent of a Catholic school student is you must volunteer unless of course you have tons of cash to buy your way out of volunteering your 40 plus hours each year. I lived up to my end of the deal once more, my EX husband...not so much. I volunteered, he attended the Raider's football games.
In my time as a catholic mom, I served on the Parent Teacher's Association, directed and produced the school play, organized and started up the Brownie Troop where none existed, worked the parish carnival, annual Teacher Appreciation Buffet, talent night and a host of other duties as well as being Room mom. I was at many functions and privy to many an "insider" gossip stories about the parish Priest or church problems. What did I learn? The back stabbing and in-fighting could rival corporate America!
The hypocrisy of the Catholic church is rampant as was jealousy among our parish priest and other, larger wealthier parishes close to ours. I remember one particular Sunday mass when the priest turned up the lights and forced us all to look at each other. He told us to turn to the person next to us and ask each other "could we give more when the collection plate was passed?" "Are we giving all that we have?". After that little exercise, the Priest then went into an ugly tirade where he said he was not going to accept "change" as an offering only "paper money" and they better be "large denominations" not just a "dollar". Seriously. This was the same Priest who called the 8th grade girls "little whores" because a few of them wore lipstick to their graduation ceremony! What would Jesus do? I think I already know. He hung out with whores..
Some of the most "christian" people I know are atheist. It is true. I have a few friends who claim to be out of the closet, die hard non-believers of God yet they live their life with such honor and a sense of right and wrong. One such friend a few years ago, placed herself above me in line for the next to be laid off from work because she knew at that point in my life I NEEDED a job. It was the most Christian thing anyone has ever done for me. It was truly the epitome of what would Jesus do.
These days I find God in everything but never in a brick and mortar building. God is preached to me in places like Bryce Canyon where the ministers are soaring hawks whose beauty makes a believer out of the most cynical. I find God in the sermon in the form of a rap by a kid wise beyond years and half my age. God is preached to me in the kindness and compassion of simple everyday people who do extraordinary things without expectations. Fire and brimstone, screamed at me by a guy unable to control his compulsion for expensive toys does nothing for me.
Like REM's song from the 80s says about losing my religion, I, too find myself losing (or is it lost) my religion. I love Jesus Christ but I hate religion. Amen and hallelujah!