I have taken a lot of time to analyze religion and influences on both the secular and sacred worlds on one another. My overall view of religion has not changed how I feel about my decision not to join an organized church. If anything, I feel that I have gained a more solid view about religion and grounds for my beliefs. I feel that people that do not grow up in the church only join when they feel they are missing something in there lives. Usually, it is either a means to correct a behavior or to fill a void. I almost look at religion as “rehab.” You often hear about people joining a church after going through something tragic in their life, usually addiction or the loss of a loved one. I feel that religion is something that people turn to when they don’t trust themselves enough to make the right decisions throughout their life. I think that this contributes to the fact that in the United States, our culture has become exponentially more religious in just the past century.
I have always had some disagreements with certain beliefs that I felt were universal among religions. When I learned that within the Christian religion, there are more than 30,000 denominations, I began to wonder if there was a denomination that I could agree with one hundred percent. The problem with any religion for me is if I do not agree one hundred percent with the churches beliefs, I will not accept the religion even one percent. It’s an all or nothing deal with me. This is based on the idea that if I disagree with even one belief of the church, than I would not allow myself to trust any other belief that I had previously agreed on as it would require me to question every thought, every idea, and every motive.
Another thing that made me think was the immense volume, 30,000 denominations! If there are 30,000 denominations out there just under the Christian “umbrella” and there is only one truth, either 29,999 denominations are wrong or all 30,000 are wrong. I believe that everyone has their own truth, but religion is looking for God’s truth. With all of these different interpretations, it is logically impossible to find a religion that carries God’s truth. I have however learned to pay attention more to the world around me. I have always been the analytical type, and I feel that I read people rather well. I have found that there is a major hidden player in the secular world that I had never analyzed, religion. Because I had never been trained to look at the world through my “religious binoculars,” I never noticed the significant religious contributions within the secular world. I have begun to watch closely for religious themes, symbols, or meanings in everyday objects and events. I do not have a religious background therefore I find religious themes a lot more disguised than someone who might have a Masters in Theology. I can look at an advertisement with people posing as if they were a part of the Last Supper and not immediately recognize the symbolism or resemblance.
The crossover between secular and sacred occurs in all different aspects in the American culture. Even as our country is built on the freedom of religion, America is clearly a Christian country. I believe that our current president, as well as every other president in United States history has believed in God. They have all been Christian. The United States currency reads “In God We Trust,” and our Pledge of Allegiance says, “one Nation under God.” We have secular songs with references to God and television shows that are based around the church. We even have national holidays that are Christian based.
One of our nation’s largest holidays is based on a religious event, the birth of Christ. This holiday is so widely celebrated that it is expected that most businesses across the United States will be closed. This holiday affects more than just the Christians in America as this holiday has an impact on every person living in America. I work with several people from India, their religion is Hinduism, but on Christmas, they take off work just as the rest of America as the Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. For a country that does not have a set religion, it’s quite odd to have religious events marked as national holidays.
Not only is God apart of the secular world, but the secular world plays a part in the religious world as well. With Christian music evolving into all different genres, the musical sound of Christian music has become more secular while remaining faith-based lyrically. Other secular aspects have also entered the sacred arena as megachurches are developed and have begun to make profit on their services.
The megachurch purchases their service materials, plays Christian rock music with expensive sound equipment, and has built-in cafeterias/restaurants, as well as other Christian stores. The megachurch has become more of an event than a church. The megachurch has moved away from the traditional church setting with pews that everyone is accustomed to and toward theater like seating for their mass audiences. The megachurch has taken mega-steps in providing religious services to a secular world. I don’t feel that a church of any kind should be made to operate like a business. I feel that the megachurch is exploiting the sacred, and by removing the tradition from church, I think it is also manipulating religion into something they believe the secular world wants to hear and be a part of.
I have respect for individuals that have a strong faith and strive to become better under the direction of God. Personally, I have not found myself traveling the religious path at this time in my life and I don’t know that I ever will. I do believe in God, but I cannot accept religion.
My personal faith, beliefs and experiences help me to continue forward and make, what I believe to be, the right decisions for myself. I continue to have an open mind about religion but I don’t feel an overpowering need to “belong” to something, or retain direction from what other’s believe to be of the “higher up”.
At this point, my view of religion is all speculation. The bible is something that is translated in many different ways and by many different groups of individuals. None of these people or translations can be certain of their theories. I just want to live my life as a caring, loving, courageous, faithful, trustworthy, giving, and humble human being. My truth is that a good person encompasses these characteristics as well as many others. I have vowed to myself the things that I will and will not do. My being is dictated by my truth alone and no one else’s.
Find More World Religion Articles