Archive for January 6th, 2016

Oh, to hell with religion

Over the past few years I have read all sorts of articles on Islam and its different manifestations (I even read one of the translations of the Quran). I have also devoured countless writs on the various forms of Christianity and Judaism, to the point of being a regular visitor to the website askmoses.com.

Today, after yet another attempt at opening up to the blessings of religion, I have made the decision that enough is enough. There really is no point to this quest for understanding. Because – I do not and never will understand.

I still totally fail to see why it is important to believe in an all-powerful and totally invisible being. Why is that important? And even if you choose to believe in it – why is it necessary for you to be so damned public about it, build huge and expensive edifices to the worship of your invisible deity, flock to huge ceremonies conducted and dictated by a few (self-)important (mostly) men and then proceed to abuse all those – of whom there will always be millions – who do not do the same?

Now, I will always have empathy for the ‘quiet worshipper’. The person who heads into nature and goes ‘Ahhhhhhh! This is just greater than me!’ – and then sort of leaves it at that. The one who is astounded by the beauty of all that mankind has not yet ruined and feels that there just has to be a greater being behind it all. The person who lets Nature be the temple to the creative force and doesn’t insist on stealing from the poor to build for the rich (see: Catholic church over the years, followed by most other forms of organised religions – sure, there were religions before this that were used in the same way – but I have been blessed with not having to try to understand those).

I will also have a slightly misunderstood empathy with those who join in the odd religious ritual just because it is pretty and everything feels better with a little midnight mass thrown in for good measure on the 24th December. And I listen eagerly to my Muslim and Jewish students when they tell me about their own favourite rituals. I even sang in a church choir for two years and loved every minute of it, but I think that had more to do with the beautiful music we got to sing.

I understand beauty. I even see the beauty of the many places of worship that have been built to invisible gods over the millennia. I live close to one of the most stunning churches in Vienna (Votivkirche) and no, I would not want to see it torn down.

The part I fail completely to understand, though, is organised religion where the participants accept having words and actions dictated to them, unquestioningly. I don’t understand blind followers. Wrong. I don’t ACCEPT blind followers. I refuse to accept those who kill on behalf of a religion. My refusal to accept goes along the entire scale of actions seemingly dictated by a religion, be it the wearing of a headscarf, slapping a naughty child, ostracising women who’ve had an abortion or beheading an ‘infidel’ – I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS WILLINGNESS TO HIDE BEHIND RELIGION. It’s weak.

YOU are the one who chooses to kill. The one who chooses to hit a child. The one who chooses to hurl abuse at another being. Those are YOUR actions. And when you decide to put the blame for your despicable actions on an invisible deity, I have nothing but contempt left for you. You are a weak person, and you have chosen that path yourself.

So no, there is no more room in me for understanding. If you feel an intense need to go to church regularly, do so. If you feel that praying x number of times per day while facing Mecca makes you a better person, do so. If you want to wear religious underwear or a hijab, go right ahead. But don’t ever tell me it is your religion that actually demands it. Or that anyone else is less worthy because their choices are different to yours. YOU are the one who chooses to wear certain things or perform specific rituals and your choices are yours alone. I am willing to respect you, but I will never again respect your religion over you – or over myself.

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