Monday, December 17, 2012

Why I left religion

Just by reading the title of this article, you know where this is going and I might be called names after this. But my journey might be similar to yours - who knows?

I was born from a family that is devoted to Roman Catholicism. My mom grew from a family that is also very conservative (religiously speaking) and are devotees of Mary. I grew from a family that prays the rosary everyday and practices a lot of Catholic beliefs. 

Whenever we start praying the rosary (which normally takes an hour or so), I would find ways to excuse myself from kneeling that long (like going to the rest room to rest my knees). Even as a young boy, I would raise questions regarding all the ceremonials we have to do in following this faith. My mom, patiently explained to me these things. But the more she explained, the more I asked rather more difficult questions to the point she would say "don't question God."

Say for example, why would parents have to baptize their infants to Catholicism that early when their infants do not understand what the heck is going on? Well if this is to preserve the religious organization's future by inducting their members that early - I wouldn't be surprised.

I have also asked myself why Catholics pray to a lot of saints to connect them to God - when basically they are also people, who like us have faltered many times. Can't God connect with us directly, or we to Him (if he/she is indeed omnipresent). And how did we know God is a "he" and not a "she" or "it"? And why does God stopped talking directly to humans after the Old Testament (for you know, anyone would really want to know how he/she/it sounds like)?

Questions like these have not been clearly answered by my family, even by our local church officials (they too would have a hard time answering, most often I got shut) and the more I got confused with all the things I am following just because all of them are doing it. By the way, I was active in church activities because I was a church choir member that time.

In High School, I would still have questions in my mind about all these things but I, most often, would keep quiet and observe. 

When I was a sophomore, someone approached me and talked about his faith with Jesus Christ (which I was wondering if he was talking about the same Jesus I know when I was a child). Incidentally, he was a member of a Born-Again church and introduced me to this Christian church whom I will find to serve for some years as their "youth pastor" and "worship leader". 

This "renewed" experience of mine gave me an invigoration I was longing for - spiritually speaking. So I became an active member of that church and "converted" everyone in my household. I served in different positions I can handle and even graduated from their leadership program. From then on, I completely lost my former faith.

As I grew inside that church, I have come across new questions and is starting to question why gays and lesbians are somehow "accepted but with certain limitations". During that time, I was exploring more of my sexuality and found out that telling them I am a bisexual would strip me of my religious entitlements as one of their youth leaders. I feel that they would now totally accept my sexual orientation for they will accept me but "you can't do this or that because God says so..."

Then I knew there were a lot of these religious leaders who are living their "double-lives", one that pleases their church and its people and the other that speaks of who they really are. Why can't these leaders be who they really are if this church is so loving and accepting? Or if their god is a loving and accepting god? Why should they or I feel ostracized even though they kept saying "we accept you for who you are blah blah...". Why all the verbal gymnastics?

All of these things frustrated me.

Time came when I started campaigning for HIV awareness and this opened the doors for advocacy. Later I would find myself defending human rights especially those of women, youth and the LGBTs and I would find out that major religious organizations are also the major hurdles and challenges in the protection of human rights - seriously.

I told myself that I would not affiliate myself with any religious organizations nor any church for that matter as long as I am in this advocacy. I just don't want to complicate what is already too complicated. Later, I labeled myself an agnostic after hearing one talking of the same beliefs I have - that I just don't want to be affiliated with any of them and come into debate whether who is the real god of whoever or whether there is a god or gods. I just want to live life as I go along. 

Then they ask me if I am an atheist, a person who does not believe in a god. Honestly, I do not know. But one thing is for sure, that whatever god they believe in surely is messing up big time. They throw shit at me, calling me names especially during the debates on the Reproductive Health Bill. Many would resort to personal attacks rather than giving intellectual and sound arguments. And yes they claim to be loving, accepting and tolerating Christians. 

I do not want to ask if god/gods is/are real or not. And what church or denomination would claim a better faith or a better god. I leave each their own faith to spiritual being/s and to practice that belief. But when you start to hate, call names or bully because others do not share your side of the story or faith, surely the gates of heaven will open and may other god/s strike you with lightning for being such a bastard you are. 

For me, a religion based on fear is not something I would opt to become a member. It is not religious nor spiritual, it is a horror movie in an endless saga. These are not the things I would spend my time with. And after this article is published, I know they would wish my body to rot in hell if there is any. Well, as a gentleman that I am, I would say "after you please...".

1 comment:

  1. It is a great leap forward when one come out of the closet, more so, openly expressing their spiritual doubts. There are more people who share the same feelings but cannot openly express it for fear of losing their face and what other people might say. You stated your own fear in the beginning of your article.

    I personally believe that there is no immediate need to put label on our spiritual inclination. One should not label herself an atheist just because she hates the religious practices that dominates our known realms. Label concretize what we are, and it limits who we are. If you have clear definition of god and you don't agree with it then you are anti-(whatyoucallyourgodis.)

    If you call yourself an atheist (the accepted definition,) then there is nothing for us to discuss. Because my God is Reason and Reason is my God, and you are against against my God. I have faith in Reason that eventually It will rule the world and every living things thrive in harmony