Last evening, I happened to share a ride with someone, a young lady I was meeting for the first time. Well, our journey was purely on business. As we got confortable with each other, she suddenly asked me a question: “where do you go to church?” My answer was brief, and clear: “I don’t go to church.” With her eyes, wide open, she asked, “what?” Noticing that I was unbothered by her facial expression, she then asked, “but you pray. Right?” Feeling rather uncomfortable, I slowly answered, “not particularly.” But this time, she wanted to move out of my car.
Well, this is not the first time I was experiencing such a scenario. I have had to go through this a number of times.
Truth be told, I don’t think the church, as an institution; and religion, as a axis of spirituality, are necessary aspects of human life. While many religious/spiritual people believe that religion/spirituality are the very essence of human life, I don’t buy the idea. I believe that the essence of human life/existence is only defined by one thing: our conscience. It therefore follows that one does not need to be spiritual, or religious to live an upright life.
Let us take an example of Christianity. The belief is that living up to the direction of the Ten Commandments defines human righteousness. That means that for one to be good, he or she must read the Bible and do as directed by the Commandments/Bible. And that’s where I disagree. One does not need religion to tell from wrong to right. Does one need religion to teach him that abusing one’s parents is wrong? No! It is within our conscience. When you are born, even before introduction to any form of religion, you know it. Inside you, it is clear that respecting one’s parents is important. Perhaps, the only thing religion inserts is the sanction: hell, which is largely a threat. Religion is not a child of natural conscience. That is why it requires a threat in order to exist. That is what makes religion irrelevant to me. And of course, you cannot separate religion from church. People have tried, but I doubt that milk and cream can really be clearly distinguished.
The other reason I find religion/church a pure joke is the message. When I read the Bible (which I really do by the way), all I see is the message of salvation. The universe starts from nowhere. God creates Adam and Eve. All is good. Then, Eve and Adam disappoint God. God passes harsh judgment. Ever since, humanity is trying to ask for forgiveness from God. Jesus came and died for the same reason: Salvation! Deliverance! Redemption! That is why we pray, all day, all night, to be forgiven, and given a second chance. That is what I see in the Bible.
But what is the church doing today? The church is not preaching redemption. The church is preaching prosperity. Riches. Making money. Material things. The church’s focus is no longer human conscience. The church is looking at the physical being. But is it not true that man loves material things? Could it therefore be true that the church is simply taking advantage of man’s problems to progress its message?
And, can we separate the head from the body? I say, NO! I mean, look at what our religious leaders have become: extortionists, thieves, political prophets, adulterers, wife-snatchers, and smugglers. Some are even doctors, they cure HIV! Does this inspire any confidence? Why should I share religious/communion space with such a person?
Well, I don’t believe in the conventional religion. I believe in the dogma of humanity. I believe in love. The sense of right and wrong. And the test is simple: if you feel/know that something would, if done to you be hurtful, then it is wrong, if you do it to another person. If we treated others the same way we would like to be treated, then this would be a better place.