Religion is a funny thing. Some people are willing to die for their religion. Other people scoff when they hear the word, believing the whole concept to be ridiculous. Regardless of whether or not one has religious beliefs, the idea of religion is here to stay. There's no getting around it.
Religion impacts every facet of life. For example, The Ottawa Sun recently ran an interesting article about a pastor, who, when handed his bill for lunch, wrote on the bill: "I give God 10%, why do you get 18 [percent]." In other words, he refused to tip his waitress. The waitress, wavering between being insulted and amused, posted a photo of the receipt on Reddit. The photo went viral. Embarrassed, the customer returned to the restaurant (Applebee's) and demanded that the waitress be fired. Applebee's complied with his request and fired the waitress.
Obviously, the pastor was either a religious nutcase or was simply using his religion as an excuse for not tipping the waitress. Either way, he was cheapskate. And that's what religion tends to do to people. It makes them sick. If not physically sick, then mentally and emotionally sick ' as in off their rockers.
Before going any further, the author of this essay ' yours truly ' should confess that he is a Christian, specifically an Old Catholic. He was even an Old Catholic priest for a number of years. Now that confession time is over, the author has to admit that religion does make people sick. Organized religion encourages separatism: we're better than them because we believe the truth. And because we are better than them, we don't associate or socialize with them. This separatism, of course, discourages individual, rational thought. Conformity is advocated.
The author grew up in a fundamentalist religion, one where the 'truth' was taught because the pastor exegeted the Bible from the original languages, Greek and Hebrew. This linguistic ability bestowed upon him the ability to preach "the Word of God," i.e. the truth. No one ever said so openly, but the intimation was that anyone who didn't exegete from the originals was, at the very least, second-class ' the kind of person God frowned upon, if not outright punishing.
Years later, looking back, the author realized that his entire fundamentalist experience was nothing more than a personality cult, with the pastor as the focal point. Everyone who listened to him preach ' and there were thousands ' was worshipping an idol made of flesh. Moreover, and even more upsetting, the author realized that the doctrines he had absorbed were not only wrong, they were sick. And by attempting to apply them to his life, the author assumed their disease. He was mentally and spiritually ill. For he perceived God as a kind of genie in a bottle, like Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie on television. If he rubbed the bottle, that is if he listened to the truth as taught by the fundamentalist pastor, he would be blessed by God. In fact, God had to bless him, because "the Justice of God carries out what the Righteousness of God demands."
And the funny thing was this: the blessings never came, not like the pastor promised. This was, of course, more than a little discouraging. However, the pastor had a ready answer: the author needed to listen to more preaching, in that manner he would become inculcated with doctrine and achieve a different and superior level of 'grace.' The higher the level of grace one achieved, the more blessings one received. So the author listened to more preaching, devoting hours every day to the intake of doctrine.
After a while, when the desired blessings never appeared, the author gave up. He moved on to another religion, then another. In the end, he simply gave up. He still believed in God, but he no longer believed in religion. Religion just makes people sick. And in their sickness, they believe God can be bribed or paid off, like some Mafia Don bribing a government official. And they believe God is over there and they have to find a way to get to him from here. And the way involves lots of work, working for God.
The list of people poisoned by religion goes on. It includes those who receive special gifts from God. Gifts like healing or prayer or tongues or intercession (a fancy word for prayer). These gifted people strut around because they're special, they're holier than everyone else. If they weren't, they wouldn't have gotten the gift, would they? So everyone should listen to them and do as they say. Pretty soon it's just another personality cult.
And other religions? They're just as whacko. People strapping bombs to themselves, blowing up public places, killing in the name of God.
Religion makes me sick.
E.M. Cioran said it best: "Religion exploits latent madness for the good of the community. Churches are undercover hospices. They harness excessive enthusiasms, legalize doses of transcendental poison, and thus prevent the world from turning into a madhouse."