One Last Note Regarding My Religious Beliefs

In reference to my previous journal… I know there are people in my life who are going to be really shocked to see me write “former” Christian. Especially because right before it happened, I basically went through months of one final, wholehearted, deeply sincere attempt to return to the illusion of safety that organized religion/church gave to me. So I was fairly low key about it, and only one friend even noticed/asked about it. I know some people may even be sad on my behalf. I would have been for others, if the tables were turned, a few years ago.

Part of the reason for this is that I had to accept/admit that I never believed that if you don’t believe that Jesus died for your sins, then you go to Hell. Or to, you know, not Heaven. This is THE key factor in being a Christian and if you believe in this, think really hard about what this means and who it applies to.

To me, the idea that Hell (or just, no life after death) is what awaits someone who led an exemplary life in which they perpetually gave all they had and sacrificed it all for their fellow humans, even if they believe in God, pray daily, even follow Jesus’ doctrines, only because they don’t believe he died their sins, while someone who commits genocide can believe Jesus died for them and gain total absolution, is, I mean, forgive me for this, but it’s a little fucked up.

I know this may seem a big change from who I am, and it is, but it’s not new, and I went through it for the last two years.

I don’t believe in the Bible any more. I suppose in a way I never did, because I kept trying to explain horrible/terrible things about it away with huge mental gymnastics. I still believe in God but I’ve become WAY more sensitive to not forcing any of my beliefs upon others.

ALSO… regarding prayers. If you’re someone who is there for me, who is my friend, someone I can count on, not a random stranger who would just drop “thoughts and prayers ” comments on a journal, of course it would not upset me if you offer prayers. I would be touched, and gladdened, to know that someone is speaking to God on my behalf. It is very different if it’s done by someone I barely know and who doesn’t want to bother to be there for me at all.

On “Thoughts And Prayers”

EDIT: Though it’s mentioned several times below, I want to emphasize again that I’m still a believer in a higher power/God. If you are part of an organized religion, I do not think poorly or less of you, unless you use your religion to infringe on the rights of other people. A journal like this would possible have angered me to read a few years ago before I gained more knowledge. So I understand heated responses, but realize I respect your beliefs. I just don’t think you should use them as a crutch to not take action, or push them on other people.

This is going to be a doozy of a post, but I wanted to get these thoughts out because recently there have been multiple tragedies in our community and I keep seeing this pop up and it’s bothering me way more than it used to, even when I was deep into religion, because I’ve always found “thoughts and prayers” to be a pathetic cop-out, and something that is only said out loud to feel like you “did” something (you didn’t.)

I am a former Christian, and gosh… it’s still hard to write that, much harder than writing “former Catholic”. Indoctrination is a bitch. I’m not an atheist now, or even agnostic. I’ve disavowed any attachment to any organized religion however. But I digress. As a former Christian, and one who was raised into Catholicism, and still consider myself to believe in a higher power and in intelligent design, I can relate to the desire to offer someone your prayers at a time that is possible the WORST in their lives: you don’t know what to do, and praying is easy and free, right?

And yet, I would encourage you to at least consider keeping such religious offers, including of prayer, to yourself, UNLESS you know that the person you are speaking to specifically would welcome your offer of prayers, and be comforted by them.

For one, you could have the opposite effect. A lot of people have been hurt by things connected to religion, or have traumatic memories related to religious upbringing. You may tell yourself, “Well, my offer to pray is well-meant, if that’s going to upset them, clearly they don’t have enough problems.” That’s conceited at best. If you think prayer does something, wonderful. Pray away! I’m not even saying I can guarantee it doesn’t work. But keep it to yourself unless the knowledge of your prayer would bring the person comfort, unless you’re trying to make yourself look good (something that often strikes me as the case… which is gross.)

As an alternative, how about asking the person if there is anything you can do to help, offering them a listening ear if they want to, or a shoulder to cry on? Or making them a drawing? None of these things cost money. I’m not saying don’t include a little end note of “You’ll be in my prayers, if it’s welcomed/wanted.” But don’t freaking push your prayers on people. Don’t tell them how many rosaries you’ll pray. You’re not helping, you just look like you want to tell everyone on a public place how religious you are and seriously, makes my eyes roll so far back in the sockets. πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„

And more than ANYTHING: don’t tell others to pray for someone if you don’t know their religion. Like, wtf??

You must realize, all of this comes from someone who considers herself a deist still: I still pray! But just to talk to God. And me talking to God is between God and me, because I don’t need others to know how much I pray (that’s weird). I don’t ask God for things because I think that’s so unbelievably conceited of me and I don’t think God can intervene (or would) based on prayer (and I will not even entertain an argument about this in the comments, so don’t even start with me: I’ll respect your beliefs, you respect mine, and other people’s.)

Part of respecting other people is not assuming that everyone belongs to your religion or is comforted by you engaging in it.

Also don’t try to take the easy way out by offering your thoughts and prayers. DO SOMETHING. If you think you can do nothing for someone else other than offering prayers I guarantee you’re lying to yourself. Do something for other people other than asking your God to fix things which often cannot be fixed or helped other than by people propping each other up. I do believe God, or whoever is out there, created us with incredible ability to do this. If you think you don’t have this ability you’re doing God a discredit.

But sitting quietly by yourself repeating Hail Mary’s won’t do that. Don’t pretend it does in order to feel like a saint.