Religion in the Life of an Individual

(Picture by https://www.worldvision.org/christian-faith-news-stories/pray-children-around-world )

What is more, than often not discussed in religious discourse is the individual’s experience of religion which perhaps might be the most significant reason many depart and many adhere to it.

Nothing is as black as white as we believe it to be. Whether or not religion itself is inherently a useless thing is an entirely different discussion but what is undeniably true is that the believers can have attitudes that are highly damaging, abusive and tormenting to individual existence.

Which is perhaps something believers are hardly ever open to talking about.

It’s essential to understand that a child is indoctrinated with values about good and bad, sins and blessings through the minds of adults that may or may not have any understanding of it themselves. The adults are their parents, teachers, pastors, mullahs etc. This is largely impacted by the sociological and environmental norms. That is never the pure religious teachings but sociological influences mixed with prejudice of all sorts being indoctrinated into an innocent mind who would take it to be the truth.

That child goes through school with different children who are also indoctrinated in different manners. And his mind struggles with the diversity but when he questions his adults they encourage him to stick to what they’ve taught him so the only option left in that tiny brain is to defend his values and beliefs. As he grows older, this mentality is strengthened and he continues to fight and defend what he has taken true at the time where he didn’t even have the power of rationalisation.

However, many children at their teenage years struggling with these dogmatic beliefs. They might question it more, if not the religion directly then the patterns of behaviour they have formed and continue to partake in due to those religious teachings. They may still continue to be a believer but stop being a practising one. It’s very important to understand that it is not the fault of the child but abusive behaviours around them and a generalised fear that religious teachings or interpretations of those teachings that led that teenager astray.

We are quick to blame such an individual for not having indulged enough or finding the answers on their own but we often forget that it really has to depend on the privilege of circumstances. Many times, individuals suffer so much at the hands of believers in the name of religion that they develop a stigma around that very term. If for example; a person was abused and a specific word was used during it like “ You’re worthless because you’re ugly” that person would likely have an unhealthy self-image. The same can be the case with religion if you’re told, “ You’re a bad person because you do not pray.” As long as you do not pray your self-image would be damaged. You might resort to it and the satisfaction you get by repairing that wound would make you believe in religion even more but for a more sensitive individual that very term might become a source of pain.

It is very essential that we understand abuse of any sort be it physical, emotional or verbal in terms of religion is unacceptable.

And that’s where we come towards an important discourse. Interpretations.

Individuals often as a solution decides to cherry-pick interpretations that are relatively less damaging which is an act of self-preservation in itself. I do not wish to critique it. But what it shows is that an environmental or natural factor influenced that person to reject the abusive behaviour and to incorporate a tolerant one within themselves. What’s important to note here is the privilege to choose. Not everyone’s environment would provide that and neither might everyone’s psyche.

It’s very important that we understand whether we are believers or non-believers to consider the individual experience and in turn their choice. A choice is not completely done through free will, it’s infiltrated by the customs, attitude, environment and so much more.

This should teach us to be less judgemental but more open to discourse about implications of religion and the gap between its perceptions and what it might actually be and how that it might be harming to someone else due to their life experiences while we had the privilege of enjoying its perks.

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