Organizational religion is a funny creature. I set out today fully intent to see a friend’s Venetian glass display at a church today. By the time I arrived I was running out of time as I got a late start and had an engagement across the bay. That coupled with the fact that there was a bazaar going on and the church was charging $20 I decided the Venetian glasses would have to wait. If I am to give an organization money – any organization – I’m in essence saying I endorse their product, I desire it or I believe in what they are selling. I have a hard time swallowing supporting a business that claims they are the gatekeepers or middlemen to God. I’m not even saying there is anything nefarious about this asking for money (although in some cases there is), I’m just saying I wouldn’t give my money to such an organization that has a vested interest in growing their numbers, intent on evangelizing and gaining more followers. Religion is a relatively new idea for the 250,000 years that homo-sapiens have been walking the earth. Religion, being man-made, is by its nature imperfect and also subject to potential abuses of power and manipulation, even if conceived with the very best of intentions. The grandest most altruistic ideas are not immune to corruption. Organizational religion came forth as a means to an end. The end being connection or relation to Source, the divine. These leaders served as an ambassador to God and created communal gatherings and rituals which in many instances became a hallmark of culture. This is all fine and good; where religion ceased to serve us was the point at which religion became the end not the means. You’re not a Christian? Straight to hell. You’re not giving money to the church? God will punish you for not giving to the poor. Etc., etc. Not to mention, the abuse of power middlemen began to employ through burning of witches at the stake, giving themselves authority to take punitive and sometimes torturous measures on others who they deemed were full of sin, and the list goes on and on. Don’t even get me started on the reprehensible way the Vatican has protected priests some of whose actions are nothing short of abhorrent. Not to single out Catholicism, there are tumors in every religious organization. What should make religion obsolete, an organization designed to serve God and others and to teach the right way of life, is that religion as a whole in countless ways has fallen in breach of these teachings.
God is everywhere. Our first clue that religion had tripped all over itself in its mission should have been the very first war fought in the name of God. Our second should have been the moment different religious sects began fighting over individuals, as if they were at opposing ends playing tug of war over a huge swamp. There is no coercion in spirituality. Any time an organization has an urgent or eager need to claim me to their flock I am suspicious. This is usually done under the auspices of saving my soul or sharing the real truth with me that only they have a monopoly on. I won’t even say I am anti-religion, I am just pro-God. The minute that man steps in the middle and claims his organization is the only bridge to God-land I’m going to have politely decline and take a detour as I defer to my own internal GPS.