Destined to get in trouble when religion comes up

In “real life,” I seldom talk about religion because I learned early on at the church where I grew up, that asking questions got me into trouble–usually with Sunday school teachers who ratted me out to my parents.

I did not agree with the concept of missionaries because I saw the approach as arrogant, especially when the missionaries’ targets were marginalized people including Indigenous Americans where the Christian religion was one of the methods used to “civilize” the tribes. “Civilizing” the “native people” has often been a strong component of the ruling classes’ approach that includes teaching the Gospel. The rationale: “We want them to be more like us.”

I think Indigenous peoples are fine the way they are, though I do support helping them improve health conditions, education levels, &c. Our Protestant church supported missionaries who came to visit from time to time and talked about their work. Their dedication could not be questioned. When asked if the Sunday school class had questions, I asked what was wrong with the religion the indigenous people already had. The answers were about what you might expect, the gist of which “those people” were worshipping fake gods.

So, we think our god is better, I said. Well, obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t believe what we believe. I maintained that what one believes is a personal thing and that it shouldn’t be the role of organized churches in concert with the government to “force” people to accept our beliefs and/or to feel discounted for the gods and rituals that have been important to them.

I got into similar arguments about the slander and repression of witches and others following a natural way because it was the church’s invention that they were worshipping Satan (a Christian concept and not a part of witchcraft).

So there it is: getting into trouble not about the focus of the faith but the rules about the faith that were codified by the hierarchy of the church whether Catholic or Protestant.

I have never subscribed to the idea that believers need pastors, priests, bishops, and others standing between them and their God. All those people impose rules and regulations which come from them and not from the unknowable creator we worship.

But questioning such things in a southern town in the 1950s was considered, I guess, the work of the so-called devil. So, I learned to keep quiet. Keeping quiet was safer, less of a hassle, and a way to keep from being an outcast. Now, the only thing I’ll speak out about is those who try to codify their beliefs into law. I have no tolerance for them and wonder what it is in their belief systems that makes them want to force their ideas on others.

I prefer to leave people alone and let them believe as they wish without the censure of government or the organized churches.



4 thoughts on “Destined to get in trouble when religion comes up

  1. Thanks for sharing these experiences with the rest of us. While reading your blog post, I found myself thinking about the tragic consequences which all living beings on planet earth are now facing due to accelerating climate-change-related catastrophes — AND how we might have avoided much of this horror if we had respected and learned from the ecological wisdom which many of these “primitive” cultures lived — and continue to live — by. Ah, hubris…

    1. Those cultures respect the land in ways most others don’t. In addition, we have hundreds of conservation groups warning us about thee state of the environment and the dangers of climate change. Apparently, business as usual is more comforting to those who call the shots.

      1. Yes, indeed. The billions of dollars that the oil companies continue to reap each quarter is just one example of business as usual being more compelling than future catastrophe for our all of those who are inheriting our mistakes. And many of us in the USA are largely unwilling to stop driving and flying and taking vacations and burning unnecessary fossil fuels (as we have done for most of our lives), too. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

        1. I think more people who stop burning fossil fuels in they were more certain about the viability of the alternatives. They see, for example, that buying an electric car is like going back 50 years in terms of benefits, costs, ease of use, etc. People in some climates know full well that a heat pump does a lousy job of heating and cooling a home compared to a gas furnace. People might be prepared to make sacrifices but they suspect the technology to make the change a more even swap is lurking somewhere and not being studied.

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