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  • Writer's pictureAlanna Grayce

Ep #61: Organized Religion and I no longer ~vibe~

Ok so let me begin with an explanation of two terms I'm going to be using:

-Religion is the social, organized, and typically public ways through which practitioners relate to, learn about, and worship their concept of the divine.

-Spirituality is the private, personal version- and is typically far less defined by some kind of leadership.

A lot of people will describe these as two entirely different concepts, while some will say that spirituality is part of religion- and that’s totally fair and valid- and some will say or just insinuate that you cannot have one with the other.

In some places, the separation is more culturally significant for some reason. And, with some people, they will glorify one and demonize the other. For example, i was often told by an adopted aunt of mine, who is an incredibly spiritual being but also a religious woman, that I was spiritual and mystical. When i was a little 9 year old Southern Baptist child, I didn’t know what to do with that. It scared me. Hell, religion in general has always terrified me, and then being told I was something that I was told from the pulpit I shouldn’t be was REALLY terrifying.

And that’s kind of the main problem I have with organized religion. If you asked me this question ten years ago, I would never have dared question the validity of religion in a corporate sense- corporate meaning the learning and worship as a group. Five years ago, I would have still lauded the importance of the group setting- but perhaps said it’s not really for me at this point in time. Now, I’ve come to realize that the group setting is most important for one thing- indoctrination and control.


First I want to pause real quick, because I want to say how insane it is to me that I’m going through this realization, and I’ll tell you why. My grandfather did something very, very similar. When I was small, I watched my dad say “Karen, God isn’t in that church building. I don’t have to go there to believe in him or to worship.” And my mom always told me my papaw did the same and it was his fault my dad thought that way. Hilarious.

Now I’m going through the same- and you can argue of course that it’s because of that influence. And I think to some extent that’s true- because I've carried that statement with me for my whole life. But I also have to wonder if I don’t have some kind of predisposition to it, that’s been passed down through the generations, through my father’s line, to give me this healthy skepticism and deep spirituality. And also, deep seeded desire to rebel.

And, if you know my father, or are my father, you might say- Alanna, what do you mean COLONEL CAMPBELL likes to rebel? Just trust me on that one ok lol.

But this brings me back around to indoctrination and control. Religion, truly, is an institution. And as such, it is created by and for man. Typically, I would clarify that I mean man in the general, “Anthropos” sense of the word, but unfortunately that is typically not the case.

(ps. "Anthropos" means "human" in Greek)

Christianity, in spite of Jesus Christ’s veneration of women and his mother, as well as his calls for equality and his example of treating a former sex worker as his equal friend (Mary Magdalene), came to fruition in a very patriarchal corner of the world and thus carries with it deep seeded tones of misogyny. For example, once as a little girl, I asked my dad why we didn’t believe women could be pastors- and he told me he thought it was entirely because of the Apostle Paul’s sexism that bled into his writing of the Biblical books. Tell me, then, how the Bible is an accurate representation of God’s word? It’s God’s word- as given to man and written by man’s fallible, impressionable hands. Furthermore, what we read today is not the original translation, obviously- I don’t know if y’all know this, by the way, but Jesus wasn’t white, Mary wasn’t blonde, and they sure as spaghetti didn’t speak English.

So then we have not only the issue of translation bias from those original authors, who were supposedly writing God’s word as it was given to them, but we also have translation bias from those men who were originally translating it from Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic into Latin, and then into English. Recently, a young female classist retranslated the Bible from its original languages into English and upon comparison found that there were many instances where the original language used terms as general as “women” and “girls”, but the original translations into English made the choice to translate those into such terms as “whores” and “prostitutes”. Like…… why.

Or, there’s the fact that in the 1930s ish time period, translations of the Bible were re-worded to focus on “homosexuality”, when in fact the original translations said that men shall not lay with BOYS, which is in fact referring to pedophilia, which was incredibly common in Mediterranean countries- homosexuality was less socially accepted, but could be depending on the culture it’s in context with. I would guess that this change in verbiage had to do with the general culture of the time, because homosexuality still wasn’t socially acceptable at this point- but there wasn’t the same kind of religious fervor against it then that there has been in the years since.

Plus, can we talk about how ironic it is that the verbiage was changed from focusing on pedophilia to homosexuality, when in fact so many religious leaders of the Christian/Catholic faith have been outed as pedos? I mean I literally watched a show the other day where a man talked about his experience being sent to a conversion therapy camp as a teenager; the “men” who were in charge of the camp raped him while he was there. Excuse me? What?

FURTHER. Then we have the imposition of leaders’ interpretations of the word onto it and thus how we should worship, how we should interpret the Bible, and how we should perceive ourselves and others. That doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t like being told by someone who has their own biases how I should understand the world and myself.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand. Here’s a KICKER in case y’all didn't know. The Bible, specifically the New Testament, has tons and tons of books that were not included in the selection of what would be utilized by the church and eventually disseminated amongst the public as “The Word of God”. Do you think God chose which books would be included and which would be kept low key secret in the basement of the Vatican? What’s your guess?

So I know that I’ve framed all of this from my perspective- the perspective of a Southern Baptist raised little blonde girl from Southeastern Kentucky. But the thing is, this bastardization of spirituality happens in plenty of organized religions. Islam is very similar to Christianity in terms of misogyny, bias, poor translation and bad influence from people who are seen as “leaders”. Not to say there aren’t extremist Christian organizations, because there absolutely are, but I will tell you that Al Qaeda wouldn’t exist without the reliance on uneducated and poor young men who are willing to be indoctrinated into a translation of the Koran that is, first of all, picked apart, and secondly, that they cannot even read because they don’t have access in their native language.

I’ve been super interested in ex-Mormons sharing their stories on tiktok lately- one of the biggest things that all of these former LDS members say is that they could not stand the amount of control the church tried to have on their lives, specifically women. They were told what to do, wear, say, etc, and then shamed terribly if they didn’t fit into the mold that these MEN wanted them to. Who cares if the men fit a certain mold, by the way, but the women have to.

Mormonism, by the way, is a whole entire mess that honestly I don’t want to insult anybody over and I know technically every religion is made up to an extent, but damn if Mormonism ain’t made up. Joseph Smith couldn’t even keep his story straight on how an “angel” or a toad or something told him to form the religion. Give me a break. Besides you can’t convince me that only a set number of people are allowed into Heaven. What are they gonna do? Oh no, someone that’s more deserving just showed up- gotta Sparta kick some poor soul off the edge. Ok. I’m really sorry if you’re Mormon. That’s just my 1 cent. I’ve just trashed the religion I grew up with too, if that makes it better. This girl ain’t loyal.

Even Gandhi, who is revered as a folk hero in India as he was pivotal in the fight against Britain’s continued colonization as well as being revered as a spiritual leader and guide by many people of many faiths, and those of no faith at all- was INCREDIBLY racist, classist and sexist. Frankly, he was a pedo, who had young young girls sleep naked in the bed with him to “test” his strength. K. Freak. I know Gandhi isn’t technically a tenet of organized religion, but he is an example of how spiritual leaders’ sins can be washed by the media, thus our perception of them is devoid of their context as a whole which then can and often should undermine the credibility of their teaching.

And if all of this is making you go… what? Let me give you a prime example. Y’all remember that AWESOME movie, the Book of Eli, right?

The whole point of the movie is that all Bibles, and basically all other literature, has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. The main antagonist, a neo-western warlord named Carnegie, wants a Bible so that he can control the townspeople through its word. Isn’t that interesting? Sound like anything else in history? Perhaps, the Pope, King Ferdinand, hell, the town in Footloose?

People love to bastardize religions to meet their own needs. The main tenets of Christianity, for example, is loving your neighbor, providing for those who have less than you, standing up for others, treating others equally, forgiving people for their wrongs. But instead Christianity (and Catholicism) are used to exclude people from God’s love, to encourage hate, to fuel feuds, to participate in performative activism, and to rationalize segregation. Jesus would want us to help people. God reiterates time and time again- He loves His children. (PS why does God have to be a he? That’s how I refer to Him really out of habit- but I personally think that assigning a gender as we perceive it to an omnipotent creator being is a little…. unnecessary.)

Anyway, this is all to say, I don’t vibe with organized religion anymore. If you do, good for you. But it is way too much control and bias for me- so I want to encourage you to at least think about how you would worship and how you would believe if you weren’t being told to. Think, read, and research for yourself. Develop ideas outside of your religious leaders’- and if you decide one day you don’t believe those ideas anymore, or you believe something entirely different, that’s ok. But don’t ever let someone tell you that in order to believe in Jesus, or whomever, that you have to do a certain set of arbitrary things. The only thing you have to do is whole heartedly, with the utmost faith, love, and good will, believe in what you choose.


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