I wish that I were wrong. I really do. While there's an element of satisfaction in having certain contentions confirmed, the greater truth is that it really does dishearten me that there isn't more honesty, more open discussion and more objective analysis involved in what are some of the most prevalent issues of our time. I wish more people would engage a realistic perspective in order to formulate realistic solutions to the modern concerns that plague American society, instead of blindly rattling off impractical ideals which developed two millennia ago in a vastly different time and place; or worse, neglecting that the issues exist at all because they do not coalesce with their preconceived notions. I wish more could realize the wrong-doing in their judgmental behaviors and realize how their attitudes too often forsake the very principles they so fervently claim to deem above all else.
I also wish to emphasize that I by no means classify each and every Christian to impose the issues I address. Whereas nearly every person I know, including many friends and nearly all of my family are Christians, I absolutely do not contend that they are a conglomerate of bad, malicious people! I merely wish there was more awareness to the undeniable effects religion has on the world, its societies, and its individuals. While I respect and understand those who find comfort in the spirituality religion provides them, what I will never understand is how so many are able to justify manipulating their belief system to fit their behavior, as opposed to the other way around. Disguising arrogant self-righteousness in a pious concern for non-Christians only fools fellow members of the faith.
Personally, I believe that good Christians are simply good people who practice Christianity. I do not believe Christianity breeds good people. I do expect that most individuals follow their faith for the right intentions; however, it is an unfortunate reality that many become brainwashed in their quest for answers and pursuit for peace. This is a multi-faceted phenomenon, but one contributing element is the inherent trust that is unquestioningly rendered to religious figures. Religious figures may be well-spoken, motivational, and many times sincere, but are nevertheless human and therefore biased by personal opinions and interpretations. Yet whether their message is right or wrong, they possess the uncanny ability to spin their words in a way which hypnotizes the congregation into obedience.
Another facet contributing to individuals becoming unwittingly conditioned is the practice of continually repeating the same ideas. Repetition is a proven persuasion method, which is often utilized in advertising because of it's effectiveness. As we repeatedly hear the same message again and again, we slowly begin to accept it as truth, especially when surrounded by like-minded people. With continuous exposure since birth to the same ideas, and little to no introduction to any other ideology, it is no wonder many people cling so tightly to their religious convictions.
On that note, I never set out to find hypocrisy in the church. I didn't want to find holes in the theories, or inconsistencies in the practices or sexist ideals in nearly every facet of the scripture. For heaven's sake, that was my foundation. That was everything I was taught to hold sacred and dear. I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to strip my Christian label, hence leaving myself out in the cold with few to turn to. As of today, there are less than a handful of people in my life who know how I truly feel.
As a result of the notable lack in religious diversity in this country, religious tolerance is also in short supply. People discovering that they are able to find fulfillment outside of Christianity tend to be grossly misunderstood. The Christian community is not reputed for it's gracious acceptance toward an individual who no longer wishes to pursue the religion. Resulting from this, as well as the previously mentioned multitude of circumstances, it commanded nearly half of my life and a great deal of soul-searching to deprogram myself from the immense guilt that I was conditioned to suffer for thinking that possibly this isn't the one and only truth prevailing over the universe!
I wish the devout, as well as the not-so, would understand that although I have stripped myself of the Christian label, I am no less valuable, no less moral, no less compassionate than I ever was. In fact, the only things that have changed within me have been for the better, such as a cultivation of awareness and acceptance.
I do confess. I, too used to have a preconceived notion about non-believers. I thought they were either ignorant or simply being defiant--rebels without a cause who just weren't interested in seeing the good in the world. In hindsight, I am flabbergasted at what an unfair, ignorant attitude that is! While I can't speak for all others, I know that my reasons for evolving into agnosticism are pure, sound, well thought out, and well-intentioned. In actuality, the logic is the very opposite of what fundamentalists would tend to argue. Contrary to Christian perceptions, I have not “lost my way.” I have found my way. For it isn't about rejection; it is about acceptance. It is about discovering what I believe to be a more rational, tolerant and healthier way of living. I have realized that without the parameters, rules, and bureaucracy of religion, I am able to live a better life—one with less prejudice, less condemnation, less hypocrisy, and all-around more joy. In the ultimate irony, by removing myself from the cult of Christianity, I am now able to live in a manner which more closely resembles the advocation of Christ.
My wish now is that others would appreciate and honor my convictions.