I'm wrote my story in hopes that it will inspire others to share their story. I don't know if there is a "book" in everyone but I know for certain there is a story in there. I encourage you to share your story of overcoming some of life's challenges. Someone needs to hear what you have to say. They are waiting!
Poll: Brits View Atheists As More Moral Than Believers, Religion More Harmful Than Good
Nov 8, 2014
An eye-opening survey conducted in the UK reveals a truth many in the United States will find shocking. When asked if atheists are more or less moral than religious people, our allies across the pond favor atheists.
The British feel those who identify as atheists are more likely to be good people. In fact, 12.5% of Britons believe atheists are more moral, while only 6% say atheists are less moral.
Fewer than a quarter of Britons believe religion is a force for good. On the contrary, over half believe religion does more harm than good. Even 20% of Britons who describe themselves as ‘very religious’ are on record stating religion is harmful to society.
The poll, conducted by Survation for the HuffingtonPost UK’s series Beyond Beliefdoesn’t address why Britons have come to this conclusion, however faith in God and religion is falling in America as well. Jerome Baggett, a professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California told The San Francisco Business Times why he thinks people are retreating from religion in the United States,
“Religious institutions themselves have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of many Americans due to sexual and financial scandals, or political overreaching ‘by the so-called Christian right.'”
Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University, told The Huffington Post UK she found the results of the poll “striking,”
“This confirms something I’ve found in my own surveys and which leads me to conclude that religion has become a ‘toxic brand’ in the UK. What we are seeing is not a complete rejection of faith, belief in the divine, or spirituality, though there is some to that, but of institutional religion in the historic forms which are familiar to people.”
Woodhead explains the reason Britons are distancing themselves from religion are “numerous” and include: sex scandals involving Catholic priests and rabbis, as well as Islamist terror attacks and conflict in the Middle East,
“I’d add religious leaderships’ drift away from the liberal values, equality, tolerance, diversity, [which is] embraced by many of their own followers and often championed by non-religious and atheist people more forcefully”.
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association had this to say,
“This survey just confirms what we know is the common sense of people in Britain today – that whether you are religious or not has very little to do with your morality. Most people understand that morality and good personal and social values are not tied to religious belief systems, but are the result of our common heritage and experience as human beings: social animals that care for each other and are kind to others because we understand that they are human too. Not only that, people understand that religious beliefs themselves can be harmful to morality: encouraging intolerance, inflexibility and the doing of harm in the name of a greater good. We only need to look around us to perceive that fact.”
An affirmation 4 U:
"I release to the Comforter any personal feelings of anxiety, sadness, guilt, and anger and allow Peace to fill the void."
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions,” wrote Karl Marx in Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. “It is the opium of the people.”
Christ is often quoted as saying we should turn the other cheek when another wrongs us. This comment lies at the heart of thedebate regarding the true meaning of forgiveness. If we try to live as Christ did, does this mean that we too must suffer at the hands of others, as He did? Does this mean we must ask God to forgive them, “for they know not what they do”? What if the person that hurt you knew exactly what he/she was doing? What if you knew what you were doing when you hurt another? The answer to this is that while people usually know that their actions are harmful to another, they do not know that these actions are motivated by the illusion of separation from others and from the Creator.
Christ also told us to love others as we love ourselves. But whatif we never learned how to love ourselves? Or, what if we loved the idea of ourselves as successful, “together” people, only to have the idea shattered by the loss of a job or the onset of mental illness? Compassion and the ability to forgive begins with ourselves; if we do not forgive ourselves for things we have said, done and thought, we cannot truly empathize with others.In fact, we often judge people with the same faults, failings, and flaws that we perceive in ourselves. However, once we forgive ourselves for not being perfect (at least, not the way we envision perfection in this three-dimensional realm), we realize that we are still knowable and loveable. Like magic, our whole worldview changes.
I have also given much thought to Christ’s message to turn the other cheek. What if He was not telling us to ignoremistreatment, but to simply turn away from it, let go? For in the end, no matter who we are forgiving, we are really choosing to move on from a painful act, word or memory. This frees us up, mentally and spiritually, to receive the new blessings coming our way.
I was told that people must love God or else, meaning be tortured by fire. Now, I believe that that "love relationship" is sick! Genuine love can not be possible under coersion. Come on, we must stop and think before buying into such proposals.
We must decide if we will continue to let ourselves be made to feel guilty and afraid because someone who knows nothing about us tells us we are not a “saved” or spiritual person. Having the kingdom of God within us, grace reigns. We can choose to live in a world-changing new relationship—a new covenant—with God. For humankind there is no greater religion than seeking the truth.
"MY UNDERSTANDING FAMILY LETS ME BE ME"
Every culture in the world has certain norms that govern everything from personal relationships to religious practices and political views. These norms shift depending on the times and places in which we live; however we are always expected to conform to them. Those who do not often find themselves subject to a painful, even paralyzing, stigma.
There are two of these nonconforming groups who I have found to be particularly stigmatized: those suffering from mental illness and those who consider themselves “Spiritual But Not Religious” (SBNR). I know about both of these by personal experience. I am a person who lives with depression and lives a spiritual life unattached from organized religion. Despite the fact that a growing number, nearly 20%, of Americans are identifying themselves as SBNR, they are consistently branded as heretics and “non-believers”.
How can this be? Religious texts and leaders proclaim that God/Source/the Creator loves us all unconditionally, yet it seems that this message is often followed up with—you guessed it—conditions! We either don’t believe enough or the right way, and that’s why we’re not getting what we want in this life and why we won’t end up in heaven in the next.
The real issue, I contend, is the continued practice of viewing those who differ from us as “other”. It’s an exclusivity game—we belong, you don’t. Christ’s mission on earth was to help us understand that we are all of the same Source energy. We are all loved just as we are, and all entitled to heaven, just as we are. Yet (and I am not pointing the finger at anyone in particular), instead of embracing people across the spectrum of spiritual beliefs, we allow norms to divide us. On the largest scale, this leads to conflicts between the world’s three major religions; on a smaller scale, it leads to the stigmatization of people who do not follow the rules.
We must push back against stigmas—that is a given. In the meantime, however, we also must seek out and cultivate what I call the “understanding family”. This is a group of people who accept, love and support us no matter what. It can be the family we are born into or the one we make for ourselves, but they are critical to our mental, spiritual and even physical wellbeing.
Many of us take this support system for granted, especially when our lives are going well. It consists of our spouses, parents, friends or religious community. However, it is when we suddenly find ourselves on the fringes of society that we must sometimes seek out a new family built on common interests or struggles. They are the people who will let us know that we are not alone. They are often our only refuge from the world at large. Most importantly, they are the ones who will help us combat the most damaging stigma of all—the one we assign to ourselves.
S.L. Brannon, B.A., M.Ed., D.Div. You can learn more about me on facebook and linkedin.