[TW: abuses based on religion]
I’m an apathetic agnostic. I don’t know if there’s a Higher Power or gods or a God and I don’t care. More than that, I think it doesn’t matter whether they exist. I recognize that religion is not so easily parsed from the culture of an area or a people in many parts of the world as many Left-leaning white Americans believe. I don’t think religion as a concept is a bad thing. I think there are many incarnations of it that the world would be better off without.
I don’t want to hang out with people who are strongly religious. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter which religion. I’m coming from not just an American perspective, but one rooted in a conservative area of the Bible Belt. Where the people Republicans call “good Christian folks” live.
I don’t doubt they’re Christians, but at least in the town I grew up in, most of them aren’t particularly good.
I don’t trust Christians. Don’t tell me any No True Scotsman arguments. They’re bullshit. Don’t whine that I’m discriminating and aren’t I against discrimination. My distrust isn’t based on hearsay, things I saw on TV, or culturally-sanctioned prejudice, but on my own experiences. An adult telling a child they’re going to hell for not going to church, or not knowing anything about Christianity, or not being a regular girl, or being/doing any particular thing they disapproved of is fucked-up. And yet it happened to me numerous times. There were parents that told their kids not to play with me anymore after they asked which church my family went to and I replied that we didn’t. I didn’t have a high opinion of the idea of a god who would let these people speak in their name.
As I got older, I had experiences that softened me to the concept of God. They certainly felt like what I had often heard “religious experiences” described as. The interconnectedness, the ecstasy, feeling like I was being watched over, feeling like I wasn’t an insignificant speck in an infinite universe but that I was important and that I could do important things. Other things I can’t really describe except as “intense.”
Have you ever noticed that many descriptions of religious experiences read a lot like the symptoms checklist for mania?
I don’t believe there’s a God like I was taught Christians believe in. The times I thought God was comforting me and guiding me in important tasks weren’t anything but manic episodes. I can only entertain the existence of God when I’m manic.
When I see people swept up in the Holy Spirit or Doing God’s Work, I no longer think, “It must be nice to have faith in something like that.” I can only wonder how many of them are actually having Bipolar symptoms, and how many of them are being influenced by the former. I wonder how it became so normalized.
Their devotion should not be lauded. It should be seen as what it most often is – unhealthy and destructive.
I don’t have answers, but I do have advice: Avoid those who know they’re God’s Chosen People always doing God’s Work. Avoid important people doing important things. Their Work is almost always oppression of those who are not Chosen. I know I’m not Chosen. And chances are if you’re reading this, you’re not Chosen either.