Opium of the People (Part 1) – Introduction

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I grew up in a very Christian household. Not in the sense that we just ticked “Christian” on the census form or went to church at Christmas and Easter, and never really thought about religion for 99% of the year.

We were Pentecostals and went to church every Sunday morning (sometimes twice, for the evening service too), watched Benny Hinn pushing old and sick people over on TV and declaring them healed, and I even learned from a Christian curriculum. Oh yes, you could fail a science test if you couldn’t recite that nugget of wisdom from Leviticus.

I became a born-again atheist when I was 17, and most of my family also saw the light around the same time.

As I mentioned in my last blog update, I will be writing a series about my perspectives and experiences with religion. I’ve decided to call it Opium of the People as it is the most concise summary of what purpose religion serves to most people – it is a drug, or a coping mechanism that they use to get through life.

Of course, many of you will be laughing at the irony of me using a Karl Marx quote as the name of my first blog series, and you are right to do so. I despise Marx’s philosophies regarding economy, society and just about everything else, but he hit the nail on the head when it comes to religion. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I don’t know how many posts will be included in the series yet. I will likely just keep writing them until I run out of material, or you as an audience yell at me to move onto something else.

I have at least 6 topics that I would like to cover in their own articles, including why people become religious, what purposes religion has served historically, a critical analysis of god’s virtue, why I left my religion, and a few others.

Of course, the series will serve as a critical analysis of all religions, but my focus will be on Christianity, as it is the religion that I am naturally most familiar with.

For the record, I don’t have any regrets about having been a revivalist Christian as a kid – it was a phase in my personal evolution and that of my family as a whole, where we experienced what religion had to offer, took the good bits and moved on. Without it, I would probably have no knowledge of religion and be in no position to write this series.

But looking back on my time as a Christian, it is mostly hilarious. Like when you have a dream that you are riding a purple and green walrus down the street while you’re playing beautiful melodies on a potato, it all seemed perfectly normal at the time, until I woke up laughing.

The part that I don’t find quite as funny is when people do not move through it. Religion isn’t a stepping stone for them, but rather,  it is their whole identity. One of my objectives is to challenge people who are following a religion to seriously ask themselves why they are doing it.

If you do not want to look at your religion critically, that’s fine – I’m no counter-evangelist or anything, but this series will probably make you madder than god that time when he drowned everyone.

But if you are open to an opposing view or are an atheist who finds the topic of religion interesting, I’m writing this for you – not to change your mind or tell you why I’m right, but pose some uncomfortable questions and encourage you to think about your own religion more critically.

As we move through this series, please leave your feedback in the comments section. I’d like you to challenge me as well, so don’t hesitate to call out where you disagree with me.

After all, if there was no dialogue, I would just be a preacher.

Photo credit: Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

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