“What religion are you?” a man on the high street asks me, whilst holding a wad of leaflets promoting Islam.
“I don’t belong to any religion,” I reply.
“Oh, so you’re an atheist?” he asks.
“Well, do you believe in God?” He begins to get a little impatient with me.
“Well, what is God to you?”
“God is everything and nothing.”
He smirks and says, “Well, what does that even mean?”
“Why do I need a religion or even a label? So you can identify me? Well, why do I need identification?”
Ignores my comment and says: “Can I speak to you about Islam?”
“No. I respect your views, you respect mine,” I say politely, and walk off.
If you have to label me as something, I am more spiritual than anything else. I believe ‘God’ is within and around all of us, part of the universe and the nothingness that surrounds it. I do not need to kneel before God to practice my so-called religion. In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright: “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”
I respect all beliefs but I unconditionally belong to none, because my “belief” is that beliefs change – and should have the freedom to do so.
With regards to the latter issue in the UK, the Church of England’s defence of their view is somewhat obscure. It feels the need to grip on to the age-old tradition of heterosexual marriage and fears changing it is like a dictatorial demand. Sorry, but who is acting like a dictator here?
The Church warns that: “Opening marriage to same-sex couples would confer few if any new legal rights on the part of those already in a civil partnership, yet would require multiple changes to law, with the definition of marriage having to change for everyone.”
What exactly should we be worried about? Apparently the subject is “complicated.” Well, if they can understand it, why can’t the rest of us? Or, is a certain level of superiority required before the penny drops?
It also claims that this requested change is a “torture to the English language”. Is it that painful to add “same-sex” or “gay” in front of “marriage,” for those who wish to express it that way?
Resistant to change
My fundamental question is: Why can’t religion change? I do not mean a complete overhaul, but why is it so resistant to adaptation? Society continues to evolve over the years. If it didn’t, we would still allow slavery and disallow women’s vote.
Why must religion be so rigid, holding steadfast to beliefs and attitudes that can become outdated? Why should religion forbid us to adapt its teachings to the individual ways in which we choose to live our lives, as long as we are not harming each other, or ourselves?
When I was a child, I never really understood why some faiths disallow menstruating women from entering a place of worship. In fact, I still don’t get it now. I used to wonder, why would God consider a woman’s period ‘dirty’ when it is the very process that enables life to exist? And nobody could give me a real answer – mainly because some religious folk are too scared to question and fear change.
I also still do not understand why animals are often sacrificed in the name of God. We would not imagine offering a human life – so why the arrogance and disregard when it comes to that of an innocent animal? And why would ‘God’ order or demand this?
Do not get me wrong – I am not against religion, if it helps individuals find inner and outer peace. I have a guru who guides me when I am lost and I have books that help me centre myself when life causes an imbalance. It is an anchor for many and as long as it helps people in a positive way, it can do no harm.
Religion is not God
But when it enforces beliefs or excludes people based on who they fundamentally are, then how is it fair or humanitarian? After all, isn’t religion meant to be for the people? And shouldn’t this apply regardless of colour, creed, race, gender or sexuality? If religion discriminates, how is it different to racist, sexist or ageist attitudes? Well, it certainly seems to be homophobic.
We often seek guidance to make sense of a world that can often be senseless. But religion, theology or science do not hold all of the answers. Where does the universe end? No answer. Does the soul exist? No real answer. Which religion do I belong to? No answer. And I don’t need one.
Religion is not God itself; its priority should be helping everyone – without exception – feel closer to God.