Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion - several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven.
A little background: I grew up Catholic. Born, baptised, reconciled, communed, confirmed, Catholic. Cradle Catholic as many like to call us. Back then, Catholics didn't read the bible, they didn't do much other than show up for church on Sunday. So by the time I was 16 or so, I was done with Catholicism and most religion. I went through the motions when my girls were born, had them baptised Catholic, to save their souls and all that. But around 1999, I started hanging with "Christians".
Catholics like to call themselves Christians, but over time I have come to see that there are Christians and there are "Christians" and never the twain shall meet. They are just two different animals. I have decided that Christians are the normal, everyday folk, who believe in God, believe in Jesus, go to church on Sunday, but live in and with the rest of the world. "Christians" on the other hand, are those who go to church as many days during the weeks as possible, go to every church retreat, every church event, and try to mingle with "others" as little as possible. People outside the church are "scary", threatening, not like them.
When I started hanging out with "Christians" I got sucked into all things "Christian". I decided to homeschool my girls to save them from the evil public schoolers (actually, homeschooling become unschooling which became a "good thing" but I digress). I became obsessed with shielding my children from all the "worldly" things that might harm them. TV, music, who their friends were all had to be carefully evaluated to make sure it was what God would want for my children. I even made them skip Halloween for a few years. Something my children never let me forget.
In recent years we've been involved in a Christian homeschooling cooperative. The hypocrisy I have seen there has been amazing. These people, who profess love in their hearts for all, have really shown themselves to be the most judgmental people I have even known. I never saw judgment much until I became a "Christian". It's one thing as a Christian to believe Christianity is the way, quite another to think your own version of "Christianity" is the only way. Who knew there was so much division just among "Christians"? It isn't enough to be a believer, one must believe a certain way. Every denomination seems to think they have the lock on the "truth". They also believe they get to judge how our children dress, how much make-up they wear and whether or not they should be allowed to date or (gasp) have a boyfriend!
I've grown tired of it. I've grown tired of trying to see where I fit into the puzzle that is Christianity. When we as a family were actually going to church, a "Christian" church, we didn't necessarily believe everything being taught. When we spoke to some other members about this dilemma, we were told that most people don't believe everything taught in a specific church, one was supposed to take the good and discard the bad. We were told we'd never find a "perfect" church. HUH? At the time I didn't think much about that statement, but looking back, I think why go somewhere if you don't agree with what is being taught?
Since leaving our former church, I have considered going back to the Catholic church. But I can't. The patriarchal attitude is more than I can take, and I don't want my girls growing up under patriarchy. And the more I research other churches, the more I realize I just don't think I will fit in anywhere. I just have too many disagreements with what they believe, and I don't want to go to a church and have to pick and choose, again, what I believe in.
Anne Rice, the author, recently announced she was quitting Christianity. She just can't reconcile what she believes (and she believes in God, Jesus and the Bible) and what the churches teach. So she's given up on church. I think I need to give up on church too. I haven't given up on God, or Jesus. But I am giving up on church. There is too much falsehood, too much hypocrisy, too much judgement, too many cliques, too much prying into my life at church. I have been happier since leaving church, surprisingly enough. Since I stopped my quest of feeling like I "have" to go to church, that I "have" to be in community, blah, blah, blah, I feel less stressed, more free to be me. And I think God is ok with it too.
Not all religion is to be found in the church, any more than all knowledge is found in the classroom.
Everyday people are straying away from the church and going back to God.