Respect my beliefs, Goddamnit!

When I was a Christian I would try to debate people who didn’t share my beliefs. I had no reason to do that. Literally, the “reason” part of my brain had been partially deactivated by the church.

Reason has to be dimmed in order to activate the blind faith setting.

I honestly believed that a snake offering some lady a naughty apple thousands of years ago triggered events that led to me sin. One has to devote a fair amount of brain matter to maintain that delusion.

It is hard to keep tamping down reason to hold on to idiotic beliefs. It can stress out even the most faithful. I distinctly remember that feeling. I think that is why I would get so angry when talking to people who didn’t share my beliefs.

I think it felt so bad because I was subconsciously aware of the absurdity. If I talked to someone who gave me a raised eyebrow I would immediately jump to “Those are my beliefs and you have to respect them!”

While we all need to respect an individual’s right to believe what they want; we certainly don’t have to respect that particular belief.

I giggled recently when someone of faith was trying to debate some nonsense they believed. I giggled. Just a little snort, I couldn’t help it, the point she was making was so stupid. She snapped at me “Hey! Don’t make fun of what I believe!”

She believes I am going to burn forever in hell but I am not allowed to laugh about those beliefs? She thinks it makes sense for me to suffer, tortured horribly, for eternity, but I am not allowed to snicker at that notion. I should listen with polite and reverent silence while being told I am going to rot in hell.

That makes no fucking sense.

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Religion: The Original MLM?

Multi Level Marketing (MLM) companies have a bad track record: Amway, Herbalife, even LuLaRue making the news for their various business practices. Despite marketing themselves as legitimate franchise-like opportunities, companies like these can take shameful advantage of their reps.

A quick check of the stats on any MLM company and it is easy to discover their dirty little not-so-secret: most of their believers are on the losing end; very few realize a profit after all expenses. Money is made largely from recruiting other “ambassadors”, “representatives”, “stylists” who are then used as pawns in a pyramid shaped game.

It seems to me many of these MLMs have a strong religious focus and a cult like following. Why?

Maybe the church is the founding member of the MLM community? Let’s compare shall we?

The Promises:

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  • MLMs – they prey largely on vulnerable members of society, welcoming the masses who are down on their luck, dangling cars and prosperity, promising that if they work “the system” they can achieve all their dreams
  • Religion – it sells itself as a sanctuary where are all welcome and can attain eternal life if they follow a specific salvation plan. And those donations and tithes to the church? Well those will be returned twice over!

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The Alturistic Mission:

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  • MLMs – they boast how their mission is to empower women to choose their own path and own their success. They aren’t peddling goods and creating down lines, they are…*dramatic pause*…changing lives
  • Religion – they boast about the peace they bring to the world. They aren’t forcing lifestyles, they are…*another dramatic pause*… saving people from burning in Hell for eternity

 

The Victim Mentality:

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  • MLMs – I have personally been dragged to many pop up shops to “support” a fellow stay-at-home mom. It is hard to knock someone who is trying to do right by her family, and that is what these companies are banking on
  • Religion – it can also be hard to insult, after all, isn’t it just groups of people getting together to sing, celebrate and spread the good word? While you and I may be witness to the darker side of religion, it’s believers do not. That is what the church machine is relying on: it’s not nice to persecute people who are doing what they believe in their hearts is right.

 

The “Join us!” invite:

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  • MLMs – “Welcome to the team!” “We only succeed if you succeed!” But if you stop succeeding? Lose your membership and those friends prove fair weathered
  • Religion – join the prayer group, come worship at the holiday celebration, hang out around the coffee cart. Leave the church and those friendships become strained

 

The blind faith:

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  • MLMs – Nothing will tell their followers their products aren’t good. They will go down with the ship (probably wearing cheeky leggings)
  • Religion – Blind faith is a cornerstone of any religion, you can’t believe in those wild Bible stories without it

 

Recruitment:

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  • MLMs – we all know this story, recruit to earn
  • Religion – go door to door, hand out those Gideon bibles, preach on the street, have a pancake breakfast, invite everyone!

 

The creepy elation:

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  • MLM – the over the top posts about having found their calling. Sharing their story with tears in their eyes. Saved by leggings and wax melts
  • Religion evokes this same response. Who are they trying to convince with their tears? Themselves?

 

It’s no wonder that the religious are often targeted by and sucked into the MLM lifestyle. The people are primed for it, they are used to the format, it’s comfortably familiar.

Welcome home sweet believers.

 

 

Create your own Bible verse craft

I dedicated 22 years to Christianity. I tithed, I prayed, I felt guilty, I gave up music I loved, I shamed non believers, and I cried desperately for forgiveness ashamed of my body.

I spent hours reading the good book and as I poured over those words, I studied and searched for new meanings, desperate to glean the wisdom I needed to become the person I thought I should be.

I allowed that book to take a lot from me.

Now I want something back. I want to take the power from those verses. I want to declare that I am a servant to these words no longer. Also I love making wall art.

I made up my own verse suitable for framing.

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Once a well meaning family member suggested I ignore my instincts so I could find my way back to God. They went on to say that sometimes believing in Jesus goes against common sense but that I had to keep up the Faith and not always rely on my sense of reason.

What strange advice, I think of it often. That was the inspiration behind the first sentence, I wanted to legitimize my own wisdom.

What would inspire you?

  • Is there a Bible verse that haunted you that you would like to rewrite?
  • Is there a Bible verse that made you feel bad about yourself?
  • Is there a Bible verse that you think makes the world a more dangerous place?

Churches twist the Bible’s words to serve their purposes. Why not taste some of that freedom and twist those words for yourself?

You can:

  1. Write your own verse down on paper, draw some doodles on it and plop it into a frame
  2. Paint an altered verse on a canvas
  3. Jot your own version down, crumple it and toss it out
  4. Heck, even make some irreverent macaroni art.

You will be surprised how freeing this is!

 

But Hell’s ok…

In a previous post I discussed how God gets credit for the good but not for the bad (God Gets a Pass). The premise being, when going through a tragedy, believers search their hearts to find God’s positive role in it.

Like a child looking to their parent for comfort, believers look to the heavens to divine their creator’s involvement, assured that he cares and is involved in some way.

Oddly he is rarely blamed for the cause but instead, given full credit for any positive outcome. Lose your house to a tornado? Believers are coached to thank God for leading them through and comforting them during their recovery.

I guarantee if I destroyed someone’s house and then whispered words of encouragement into their ears I would be considered a sociopath.

How would believers react to the idea of God deliberately causing a tragedy?

Imagine if I stepped out from behind the confines of human decency and pointed out that instead of helping, God deliberately caused a family’s house to burn down. “So if God saved your lives from the fire does that mean he burn your house down on purpose?”

There would be shock! “Not my God! He would never do that, he is not cruel, he is a loving god”.

But ask this same person if non-believers are going to hell. The answer from most would be a resolute “Yes”.

The notion that God could destroy their house in an inferno is abhorrent, and I would be rude to even suggest it, but the idea of non-believers such as myself and my children burning and tortured forever in hell makes sense.

That annoys me.

 

 

Science and Reason wooden sign craft

Let’s do a craft!

They hang in kitchens and living rooms around the country, a little wooden slatted sign declaring “Faith, Hope and Love”, “Blessed”or “Be still and know that I am God”.

I love the idea behind the signs, they are gentle reminders of the family’s cohesive values. It can, however, be tricky to find one without some sort of religious element so I decided to make my own.

It was a fun and easy project so I thought I would share. Grab some wood and nails or cheat like I did in the Walmart craft aisle.

 

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*Yes, yes, I know the “Equality” is not super straight, I could have sanded it down and reprinted but I kind of liked the imperfection, a good reminder of humanity’s shortcomings.

(Did you buy that? Honestly I was just too lazy to do it again. I should have put Kindness above Equality so that the reader would have been reminded of that virtue right before seeing the abysmal handwriting below)

Either way, here are some basic instructions:

  1. Buy a wooden sign or you can use old scrap wood if you are handier than I am
  2. Sand said sign
  3. Use nice markers (a thin Sharpie works nicely)
  4. Write your motto in different fonts (google fonts if you need inspiration)
  5. Cover with Mod Podge or some other sealant
  6. Hang and enjoy

You can come up with your own words or even better, sit down with your family to brainstorm and agree on the values you wish to include in your motto.

Have fun and I’d love to see pics of your projects!