I was born in the 70s and raised in the 80s and 90s. This was when a really big push away from organized religion and more towards “spirituality”. At least in the US. I was not raised in any particular religion, though I was brought up with Judeo-Christian values. My father had gone to Catholic school as a child and hated it. My mother was a Protestant who later developed schizophrenia and became obsessed with God talking to her.
Growing up my dad would read the children’s Bible to me, and we watched an awful lot of the History channel, so I learned about a lot of religions. The reasons behind them. Their beliefs. Their corruption. When I would do sleepovers as a child my dad would encourage me to go to church, or Temple or what have you with my friend so I could experience things on my own.
When I hit my late teens I started to really get into the Wiccan religion. This was around the time of movies like, “The Craft” and teenage girls were all drawn to the mystery… and Skeet Ulrich. This was also around the time of other outside religions becoming more popular. The ancient ones like what the natives and druids practiced as well as the more recent Buddhist. People were more about being one with Earth or the Universe than to answer to an overbearing Father figure.
I remember it became very popular for people to say, “You don’t have to be religious to be moral” and I agreed. I was particularly religious. I had gone to church a handful of times since my parents had split when I was a baby. I didn’t follow any doctrine or worship at any specific alter. I just knew what was right and what was wrong. I knew it was wrong to lie, cheat, steal, kill.. I knew it was wrong to be disrespectful to my dad or my grams. I knew that it wouldn’t do me any good to be envious of those with more or to be spiteful to those with less. I knew the Golden Rule was Golden not because some God told me so, but because it made sense and it felt right.
When I learned about religion I learned about philosophy and psychology and politics. I understood how people could say that all of the rules being spouted were more about leaders trying to keep a citizenry safe and obedient. How the same rules that God laid out in the TEN COMMANDMENTS were very close to the rules that were taught in “everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten”.
Religious doctrines are rules created by which ever gods the religion believes in, and religious leaders decide are best for the people to abide by to create a working civilization. Some are good and some are bad, and you can tell their worth by how successful the society is. In some religions as in some politics there is a choice to make one the better and one the least of us. Good leaders treat everyone as an equal and gives everyone the same rules and same opportunities. This is something that the Western Enlightenment. Specifically, the Protestant Enlightenment has been fabulous at. For 10s of thousands of years tribes have been conquering, enslaving, and killing off other tribes. In just a short couple hundred years the Western Protestant Enlightenment changed all of that.
No one other than the Western Protestant Enlightened countries has ended slavery, has given women and children rights, and has even given its citizens the right to not believe in their God. You don’t have to be Christian in this country founded on Christianity, but you do have to follow their rules. Their morals. You don’t have to be religious to be moral… but you have to be moral. This country is losing their morality. We are becoming a country of literal Satanist. You think I’m kidding or being hyperbolic, but there are many who are turning to the “Satanic Temple” or some variation thereof. Their belief is that the individual is GOD. that all that matters is the individuals wants and needs and desires.
It is no longer about being a healthy and productive part of society. About creating a world that is better for your children and your children’s children. People today don’t want children. They don’t want to get married. They don’t want to work. They don’t want to pay off the debt they have accrued. All of those things are too hard. Being faithful, and respectful, and responsible is something other people used to do. The people who lived by the patriarchy or the theological bigots. People today want to do what feels good to them at the moment. Who cares who it hurts? Including themselves later.
So, now that I’m older, wiser, and seen more of the world. I think you do need some religion. Some guiding force. Something to help you become a good, strong, healthy member of society. Because left to one’s own devices no one will ever grow up… and no one will ever take on responsibility if they are not taught to, and civilization can’t be healthy without it.