Faking Religion

At one time or another everyone who is true to their thoughts doubt religious beliefs. I found it surprising to see that even Mother Theresa doubted on a regular basis that God even existed.  The more I studied religious documents including the Bible the more doubt I had as to the beliefs of the variety of religion that I was then a member of.

2018-03-10_10-38-19…according to a recent study in the journal, Society and Mental Health, individuals who consider leaving a faith, but do not, tend to experience more depression than those who decide to leave…

There are good reasons to not underestimate the instability of doubt, says Lack.

“Doubt is often framed in religious communities as showing that you aren’t a ‘good’ Christian or that the devil is tempting you and you are too weak to resist,” Lack explains. “Given that, many people who have doubts either get shamed by their communities when they express doubt or feel shame at their ‘weakness.’”

Source: Does Faking Religion Lead to Depression?

I am just not a person who allows others to think for me.  If you say “Take it or leave it” I will most assuredly leave.  But, at the same time, I can relate to the quote above. For many if not most Christians, their church is also their country club. It is where most if not all of their social life happens.  In that regard, many are willing to just look past things that they really don’t believe in order to stay on good grounds with the club rules.

Ignore the “belief” stuff has a name in Catholicism, it is called “Cafeteria Catholic”.  For them, one of the toppers is birth control.  They say that the vast majority of Catholics in the US practice birth control and just ignore the edict from the church that it is a sin.  But Catholics are by no stretch of the imagination the only cafeteria Christians.

Most Christian churches have a creed that you have to swear allegiance to in order to be a member of that tribe. I’m sure the leaders of the churches take those pledges very seriously but I don’t think most of the member really even think about what they are pledging. To them, the allegiance ceremony is just the right of passage into the clubhouse and its social advantages.

But of course, there are others like me who know they are really not aligned with what they pledge but do it anyway. That fake belief does cause depression until it is finally voiced.  Although I had seriously considered it, I did not leave my church voluntarily. It was only after asking too many questions and voicing “forbidden” thoughts that I was stripped of membership by a very fundamentalist pastor. I would have left myself but I knew the damage it would do and did to my wife.

When I finally was able to come out of the closet with the fact that I had serious doubts about what some Christian beliefs, I felt the tension and depression with that false allegiance wither away.  I no longer had to hide things like being convinced that the earth is millions, or maybe billions, of years old instead of the 6,000 or so as my church demanded I believe.

The Kingdom Of God… And Leo Tolstoy

I seem to be getting a bit of flack lately about my spiritual beliefs that run counter to most of the churches today. To help understand where I come from I am bringing back some quotes from Leo Tolstoy I used in 2012. They pretty much tell my story:

From: The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy  1894 

2018-01-17_14-58-50.pngBut Christ could not have founded the Church, that is, what we now understand by that word. For nothing like the idea of the Church as we know it now, with its sacraments, miracles, and above all its claim to infallibility, is to be found either in Christ’s words or in the ideas of the men of that time. The fact that men called what was formed afterward by the same word as Christ used for something totally different, does not give them the right to assert that Christ founded the one, true Church. Besides, if Christ had really founded such an institution as the Church for the foundation of all his teaching and the whole faith, he would certainly have described this institution clearly and definitely, and would have given the only true Church, besides tales of miracles, which are used to support every kind of superstition, some tokens so unmistakable that no doubt of its genuineness could ever have arisen. But nothing of the sort was done by him. And there have been and still are different institutions, each calling itself the true Church…..

It is terrible to think what the churches do to men. But if one imagines oneself in the position of the men who constitute the Church, we see they could not act differently. The churches are placed in a dilemma: the Sermon on the Mount or the Nicene Creed–the one excludes the other. If a man sincerely believes in the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its representatives together with it. If a man believes in the Nicene Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes superfluous for him. And therefore the churches cannot but make every possible effort to obscure the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, and to attract men to themselves. It is only due to the intense zeal of the churches in this direction that the influence of the churches has lasted hitherto.

Let the Church stop its work of hypnotizing the masses, and deceiving children even for the briefest interval of time, and men would begin to understand Christ’s teaching. But this understanding will be the end of the churches and all their influence. And therefore the churches will not for an instant relax their zeal in the business of hypnotizing grown-up people and deceiving children. This, then, is the work of the churches: to instill a false interpretation of Christ’s teaching into men, and to prevent a true interpretation of it for the majority of so- called believers.

Thomas Jefferson like Tolstoy created his own bible based almost totally on the words of Jesus. He also believed that Jesus came to earth with a clear message for us but after he left, men add a bunch of rules to make everything complicated. Both men attribute much of that to the Apostle Paul.  After diligently studying both men I have become aligned with them.  The Sermon on the Mount should be the primary thing that guides a Christian’s life, not a bunch of manmade rules.

Since God gave man free will, it is up to each of us to come to a personal understanding of him and for the things he wants us to accomplish while on this earth.