The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Religion checklist
prison bars I am not a religious person, although, I like to think that I do maintain a certain level of spirituality. I was raised a Christian and believe in the Golden Rule. This does not mean that it is a belief system, since it requires no faith to see that, when you treat others right, you get treated right in return. Whether or not Jesus was a real person makes no difference to me. Jesus’ teachings are a great guide for life and healthy human relations. I also follow some of the teachings of Buddha, but am not a Buddhist.

I don’t believe in religion, since all religion is man-made, no matter what “prophet” may have said differently. Let’s face it, in modern times we recognise that the only people who “talk with God” are mentally unstable. They’ve usually gone off their Risperdal, lithium, and Stelazine. The ones that are really good at it get their own TV shows.

I suppose there are some religions out there that are completely harmless, like simple nature religions, but most are not, and I don’t understand how we allow them to flourish. I guess it’s our superstitious natures and primitive fears that are our own worst enemies. People are going to look to religion to give them the answers to life’s many questions, so, I’d like to make a list of questions that one should ask oneself when choosing a religion:

• Does this religion view the female half of its congregation as being intellectually and spiritually inferior to the male half?
• Does it resist reformation?
• Does it have a tradition that believes that women are the source of sin and are generally “unclean?”
• Does it have a view of the Afterlife that caters to men and not women?
• Does it have a view of the Afterlife that is based on material happiness or rewards physical lust?
• Does it have a warrior tradition (versus a peaceful one)?
• Does it teach that its members are “better” or “set apart and special” from other religions?
• Does it proclaim itself the Only True religion?
• Does it have a self-proclaimed prophet that started it?
• Does it have so many rules for living that you can't do simple tasks freely, and feel deprived of what it means to be human?
• Does it prescribe death for those who apostatise/want to leave? (Even if they don’t practise it - it’s just “on the books.”)
• Does it use excommunication to punish people?
• Does it teach an “an eye for an eye” type of justice?
• Does it refuse to be self-critical and openly persecute those who criticise it?
• Does it engage in re-writing its own history?
• Does it use holy writings that are contradictory, or plagiarise other books?
• Does it proclaim that its leaders are infallible?
• Does it refuse to use outside sources to prove its validity?
• Does it promote or teach as part of its doctrine polygamy and other lifestyles that are detrimental to women and children?
• Does it teach that anyone who does not belong to their religion is going to Hell or at best a “lower” form of heaven?
• Is it elitist in that it only “helps its own” instead of being part of the community?
• Does it seek to perpetuate a certain racial culture as well as belief system?
• Does it dictate how you should dress, what you should eat and drink, when you should pray?
• Does it pry into your personal/sex life and dictate what can or can’t be done between two consenting adults?
• Does it make you feel unworthy of God’s love or somehow lacking if you don’t want to conform to their model?
• Do they “have an answer” for everything and make excuses for why their doctrine makes no sense?
• Do their leaders get angry or annoyed when you question points of doctrine?
• Are you physically or emotionally threatened or psychologically abused by members of the congregation (including family members) if you don’t want to conform to their model?
• Do they teach (brainwash) by constant repetition?
• Are religious laws more important than love and acceptance of others and self?
• Are you expected to give large portions of your income to support your church (more than would be reasonable?)
• Could the “prophet” or leader/founder of this religion be classified as a criminal today and be prosecuted for crimes that include: rape, paedophilia, fraud/con jobs, murder, and thievery?

If the answer to more than one of these questions is 'Yes,' and you are still thinking of joining, best of luck to you. You’ll need it. How do I know? I joined one of these religions back when I was a young teen. Back then, I was sold a package of goods. I was shown the icing, but the cake underneath was a rotting fish. I confess, at the time, I enjoyed the fellowship and structure in my life, but now, looking back, I see that it wasn’t religion I needed. It was self esteem and a feeling of belonging – something that a lot of teens lack.

So if you must believe in something: Believe in yourself. Believe that you are the most perfect You in existence. And live life. And love. And have joy. If there is a Great Creator out there, it doesn’t care what you wear or what you eat. I’m a parent. I just want my kids to be happy and fulfilled. And to not kill or hurt each other - and I would step in to intervene if I thought they would.

You know, I just realised that sane, rational people do not start religions. Sane, rational people don’t need to tell other people what to believe. We’re too busy enjoying our own lives. We don't need to tell other people how to live theirs.
posted by Melanie O. at 2:51 PM -
  • At 11:12 PM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    You may want to check out the Quakers. If you ask them what should you do about a problem, they will answer: What do you think you should do about it? This group provides a group meditation and fellowship without dogma,. They put the responsibility for your behavior directly on your shoulders. They are involved in helping to solve many of their communities problems....but they don't require you to do it if you don't want to. This group works in soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Many are social workers. They protest the disgraceful spending of our tax money on killing others around the world. There is no elite group among Friends. We all take committee assignments to get the work done, but, again, you don't have to if you don't want to...or if you have other things pressing. There is no pledging of money . Instead, the treasurer gives a monthly report on what We agreed to spend ...on maintaining the building and on social causes. Friends reach for their checkbooks. Those people without funds, like the college students who attend, don't have to spend anything. Friends don't pass the plate. There is no alter or symbols on the wall. All is plain.
    I tried to keep you from the cult, remember? For the record, you wouldn't listen and your Dad overruled me. He was not your friend in that instance.
    This group is small, because very few of us have reached the level of spiritual maturity to function without some priest telling us what to do. It can be scary to proceed without a map or guide. I would not want to be anyplace else but with Friends.

  • At 6:36 AM, Blogger chimera said…

    interesting checklist, Oz.

  • At 9:19 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Looking back, I realise that I needed something to provide a strong structure to my life. Life was scary back then for me, and like a lot of people who convert to cult-like religions, I thought the answers to life's difficulties were somewhere "out there." I lacked the maturity it takes to see that the answers aren't "out there," - they are "in here." Even Jesus said "the Kingdom of God is within you." I just didn't "get it" back then. Interesting checklist - oh yeah. One I wish I'd had way back when. But you live and learn, and fortunately, can move on (in the Western world anyway.)

  • At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Donald said…

    Great list Melanie,

    The cult I joined when I was young was the Marines. The church was too lost in old superstitions in my mind. Now I'm just a member of plain folk. (I'm OK and you are OK.) I'm developing my own questionnaire to put in a blog someday. I'd like to quote your list if I may. Sam Harris's "End of Faith" explains it all for me.
    The question as I see it is how do we save mankind from itself?

  • At 12:13 AM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    I forgot to say in my first comment, that I admire the checklist you developed. It is very through and clear eyed. Right On!

  • At 12:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    your full off garbage that is why you got X'd from the church you once belong to

  • At 12:25 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    LOL at Anonymous (too cowardly to use her own name, which I suspect begins with the initial J.)

    Anonymous apparently can't handle facing the truth.

    For the record, I've never been "X'd" from any church, including yours. In fact, I had to threaten a lawsuit if my name wasn't removed. And even if I was excommunicated from a church, it means nothing to anyone, except to you, apparently.

    Thank you for proving my points. I plan on leaving your comments here as a witness to others who are thinking of making the same mistakes that I did. You are a wonderful example of what happens to people in a cult mentality.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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