Were you forced to go to Sunday school as a kid?
My folks always went to Catholic Church, still do. Growing up, I always had to go with. I mostly used this as nap time. The droning priest rambled about the consequences of our sins between medieval church organ riffs. It was prime for snoozing.
Church mostly scared me growing up. It just never made any sense. It always felt forced.
I would ask questions to my elders...
“Why does God want this man to stab his kid on a mountain?”
...”Don’t ask questions”, “because God is almighty” and “because Jesus died for you” were the roundabout answers I received most of the time.
This confusion went on thru my many years at Sunday school. I went every Sunday from age 5 to 16. It was run by this intimidating overlord lady named Sandy. She ran the school with an iron fist of fear. She would call our parents if we misbehaved in class and tell them we might not get into heaven.
Once I was old enough to drive a car, my folks started to let me have a say in going to church activities (they were cool about it). I promptly retired from Sunday school. I even documented my experiences with a song called Sunday School Dropout.
Honestly, I would’ve been more open to subscribing to Catholicism if I’d had a choice in the matter. Human beings don’t want to feel like they’re transparently being sold something (i.e. used cars).
On the contrary, religion can be so great. It gives people purpose and takes us away from ourselves and into the service of others. What is better than that? That seems like a core reason to be a person: helping out other people.
I believe Jesus was a real dude. An amazing dude who inspired people, motivated people, and also probably drank a ton of wine with his homies as well. His message just got distorted along the way.
Things get hairy when religion is pushed upon people that are vulnerable. Organized religion as a business is where I have to draw the line. AKA predatory religion.
“You must donate 20% of your annual salary to get into heaven.”
“Pray the guns away.”
“You will be damned to hell if you don’t find Jesus as your lord and savior.”
There’s no denying it gets pretty creepy. And we can go on about all the negatives, but let’s not.
Outside of the diddlers, predatory televangelists, exploitative megachurches, mass shooters and suicide bombers, religion probably has done just as much good, and I try not to forget that.
There have been moments where I’ve had “religious-ish” experiences. Moments where I’ve felt something grander for which I cannot explain. For this reason, I will never totally write off religion.
The universe is fierce. Our world is scary. It’s hard to be a person and we all have to do what we can to survive.
*Hear new track Sunday School Dropout… (iTunes here, Spotify below)