“I am not religious”… Thank God!
Like most people, when you meet someone during casual conversation you ask them “What do you do?” When I get this question, I give my usual answer, “I am an Inter-Faith Reverend” Then I wait. Hoping to get a causal “Wow that’s interesting”. Except, most often I hear, “ Oh, Well I am not religious”. At first I thought it was out of fear that I was going to go into an unsolicited televangelist rant and they where just trying to shut an imaginary door in my face. However, after getting this response so many times and in every place from cocktail parties to the tire shop, I have come to the conclusion “I am not religious” holds a much deeper anxiety. Religion and the some of the people related to it are not something that part of the current culture wants to be associated with. People’s animosity towards religion is because people ruined it. God is not the problem.
Face it! Religion has messed up its PR campaign. People filled religion with hate filled messages and evildoers disguised as leaders. Who would want to give up precious screen time to put on more then yoga pants and to spend time in a building filled with people that might judge you? Being religious says nothing about a person’s faith. Again, God is not the problem, people are.
I have had some deep conversations with individuals who said they are not religious. Most of “I am not religious” comments are followed up with, “But, I believe in God”. So, what’s the problem? Is there a problem? Do you have to be religious to know God? Do you have to go to a building to know God? Of course the answer is No. But most people are not great at homeschooling themselves or as my 10 year old say, “homechurching” themselves.
Then what about Churches, Synagogues, Temples and Mosques? Why are they there? To put it bluntly, People need people! God needs people to be together, to support each other, love each other and to learn more about God’s true lessons. Love, faith, forgiveness, charity and the Golden Rule are just a few. The world has beautiful sacred texts, (Bible, Torah, Quran, and Vedas to name a few) which some people have made it their life’s work to understand. When was the last time you read a book that was over 1000 pages and 2000 + years old? Whether you take each word and story literally or metaphorically, there is good stuff in there! We need to be taught by leaders in a way that lights up the words so they speak to our hearts, minds and souls. Instead people only look for God during life events, such as birth, death and marriage. This is where society has forgotten that religion serves a very good purpose. Religion forms community. A community that teaches our future generations that there is something bigger then themselves and each one of us is connected in God, Spirit or whatever term you want to use. Instead we end up going it on our own, until an event happens that makes us remember, “Oh but I believe in God and I am really in a pickle, send help now!”
I have never heard church going or non-church going person say they wanted a corrupt religion. However, staying away from religion does not fix corruption or stop judgmental people. Today people want God just as much as they have always wanted God, but they will not stand for the evildoers and corruption. YAY for that! So now what? Do not worry, you can stay in your yoga pants and you can still have screen time. Churches, Temples, communities are evolving and “I am not religious” has a place. I am not saying that everyone has to go find a building full of people to worship in. You can find ways to experience the beauty and the Ahhh of worship with knowledgeable leaders that are there for the right reasons. But you have to be willing to look. Start with your faith and what you want to know more about. It might be your love for the American Indian traditions or getting back to your family’s traditional faith. Find the community that is about the love of God and not just about the religion. Because we all know the feeling of being with others is very different then being alone. The energy is changed, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Mathew 18:20,
Please don’t be religious, be faithful. Next time I hear “I am not religious,” my response will be, “ Thank God, What is your faith?”
Rev. Misty Young
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