It’s becoming more and more common to report on one’s religious affiliation as being “Spiritual, but not religious”. Fewer and fewer people are putting down that they belong to a specific religion anymore. Variety of factors at play here – high mobility rate, more and more multi-racial societies, fewer and fewer people growing up where they were raised in their traditional cultures , in their traditional religions. It’s much more common to live in an atmosphere where multiple religions interact – and religions are often compared, for better or worse. And to believe in the religion that you were raised in, unquestionably, is less and less common now.
I can’t speak for all religions, of course – my experience has been mostly with the Roman Catholic faith. And what I see isn’t pretty. Unquestioning, complete faith in any one institution doesn’t seem to be a good idea at the best of times – these are after all human inventions, no matter how inspired they claim to be – formed partly out of high motives, partly out of worldly motives, partly out of the necessities of sustaining the institutions they became.
Remember standing with my elementary school class at a Mass that was specific for the Catholic school, in the church beside where the school stood. As an early teen I stood in awe and wonderment at the ceremony before me and thought: “What an amazing coincidence, being born in the right religion”. “What luck! What if I’d been born anything else?” At that stage I must have heard that there are, indeed, other religions in the world, but certainly had no guidance on how to see all the possible religions in context. Learn about other religions in a Catholic school? Unheard of! Unthinkable!
Not exactly how to promote world unity and understanding, is it? So religious hatred continues to be bred. Us versus them thinking.
30 years later, long after I no longer considered myself a Catholic (in my Theology program we used to joke that we were all “recovering Catholics”,) I was participating in a minimum way in my family’s parish. And was reprimanded in a dream for leading other people to believe that because I, who had a theology degree – participated here -it lent support to the legitimacy of the institution. The dream was pretty scathing:
“I was serving up a big platter of mummy food, in a place like a church basement-walking around in a light atmosphere, among chatting people.”
To explain, among those who were among the first to open the Egyptian pyramids and disturb the coffins, many of them died of what was then deemed “the curse of the mummies” – the very dust was later found to be quite poisonous. i.e I was giving credence to a poison being fed to the believing Catholics. And yes, I believe that now to be true – that there are certain concepts that are promoted in that faith which are poison for all of us: we’re all sinners, born in sin, badly in need of redemption. Sex is bad. Masturbation is evil. The body is sinful. Poor people are holier than rich people…
So Religions have their place in the world and in peoples’ growing understanding of their spiritual selves, but I don’t think any one of them has the corner on truth. We should all feel free to explore spiritual concepts on our own, and find our own way, no matter which religion we were brought up in.