I am about to break a rule.
My Father always told me that bringing up religion or politics is great way to clear a room. Time to test that theory.
Just what everyone needs. A rant about God, faith, and belief. It is something that I have been trying to constructively put into words, as a father and a husband, to not impact my daughter’s experience or spiritual development in a negative way or mock my wife’s beliefs.
Why can’t we have these talks? The difficult ones that are bigger than politics. So often politicians conflate religion and political ideology – so why can’t I separate them, and give my perspective.
I call it the reverse Coren because I came to realize that organized religion and politics are completely incompatible, and the root of historical division and suffering in Canada. Michael Coren had an epiphany regarding gay marriage and his opposition of it. He began to realize the the mantra of “hating the sin but loving the sinner” was no longer being honoured. He changed from one who I had deep disagreements with, to someone who understood the line had to be drawn between faith and political orthodoxy. Not everyone of faith is as enlightened as Michael Coren however, and it is not my place to hate or judge the sinner nor is the concept of sin any rule that I abide by.
I have always found the point where politics and religion converge to be troublesome. Any politician who serves god or their chosen religion first is failing their constituents in my opinion, and feel strongly that the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms should be amended to guarantee the separation of church and state, Yes, I believe in the freedom to worship whatever religion, deity, or faith that you chose, or your right to not believe. The freedom to assemble and worship without limitation or interference is a Charter right. I also believe in total secularity in matters of state.
I have always been a melting pot of conflicting opinions.
At some point in my life I began to lose faith in God and organized religion, at first on a micro level through the normal disengagement that occurred with growing up, and then on a macro level through the involvement of Catholic Church in residential schools, as well as participating in the cover-up of pedophilia, and other various controversies. It was a loss of trust in an institution that had a massive influence on my youth and development that I found profoundly jarring.
I do consider myself an antitheist. I will state that right now.
There is a level of piety and hypocrisy in all organized religions that I cannot intellectually accept. For example, how can an evangelical Christian support a government taking health care away from a poor person? How can a group that claims that God is love, not accept the love of a same sex couple? Sadly, one of the many examples of religious hypocrisy too numerous to list here.
For me, it was a few fundamental questions about God that caused me to lose faith. Who gets to define God? Who defines what is an acceptable way of worshiping God? And who gives them the right to have that authority? Religious leadership today is a moral and ethical black hole that continually fails those who count on it’s leadership.
Lets look at God, or at least the Judeo-Christian concept of God that I was raised to believe in. Look at atrocities that have been committed in God’s name throughout history, and even today. If you try to tell me that the suffering of God’s people through war, genocide, sickness, etc. are part of a divine plan? That is no god that I can believe in. That makes God a war criminal in my eyes. It makes God a voyeur who loves watching human torture porn occur on global level.
A person of faith will praise God or Jesus when something good happens to them, but when something horrible happens to them, or loved ones, or observing tragedy in general they are quick to blame people, societal ills, etc. and not the same God that brings them good. To me it is highly hypocritical. I am aware that statement may seem simplistic or naive to some.
I came to believe in something else. People. We are all light and darkness together in one flawed vessel. That there are good and evil in all people. That people are the solution to, and the cause of all of the world’s problems. There is no divine deity playing puppets with our souls. It is a duality that exists in all of us for better or worse. I came to believe that there is no heaven or hell to aspire to, or be given entrance to. That heaven can exist here on earth with the people we share our lives with. The same can also he said for hell. It depends on the circumstances in which we live, or are born into.
You see, I want to do all of my living in the lifetime that I was given, in the way that I choose. I am much more concerned with what is happening in the here and now and to work towards achieving the fulfillment and peace that I seek in this lifetime.
Yes, it’s a simplification, 900 words are not the best forum to explain it. I am merely taking God out of the equation. I feel that this world is what we collectively make it, and to stop using a mystical deity as a reason for all of our ills, or our salvation. We have to be our own salvation.
I am not here to mock anyone’s belief system. We are all free to chose our own path on faith. I only deride those who use their faith as a lever to stunt societal progress or to withhold the rights of other in the name of their religion.
I am not Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins looking to make a scientific argument about the proof, or lack of proof regarding the existence of God, As an antitheist however, I have come to regard the concept of God as an exercise in totalitarianism. One monolithic deity who determines what is right and wrong for all creatures on this earth? I believe that an unwavering and unquestioning belief in God impedes individual freedom and societal evolution and development. I believe the dictum known as Hitchens’s razor, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
This has been my experience. It is a belief that all organized religion has become a sectarian tool to create division and conflict between us. That we will commit a violent act on another person for merely having a different interpretation or definition of God and religion.
Perhaps my favourite religious experience was taking part in a friend’s Quaker worship meeting, a “friendship meeting”. It was silent unless someone wanted to share a thought or feeling, good or bad. It was non-judgmental. There was no pomp. No priest that looked like a glammed out Broadway show backup dancer. To me it was about community, about not illustrating what separates us or makes us more worthy because of our beliefs, but a place in which we could feel peace or feel listened to if we so chose.
Somewhere along the way, organized religion has lost it’s purpose, and consequently I have lost my belief in it among other things, but my faith in people and the better angels of our nature remains strong.