Christian Aid Week and Apostasy

One of the things I am proud of in my life is not being a Christian. I was brought up a Christian, so I should be one. Thankfully I was given the freedom to decide for myself as an adult, with no repercussions. But I still had to make the decision not to call myself a Christian (not even a cultural one) and not to follow blindly behind a  tradition I do not subscribe to.
To me, not being a Christian means saying so. It is the only way to be counted. Unearned privileges are awarded to Christians in the media and in politics, so it is important to be counted as a non-believer.
Christian Aid week happened recently. Every year we have the chance to make our feelings clear directly to people who seem never to have questioned whether their religion is worthwhile. They assume everyone approves of their religion. Mostly, Christians are left unchallenged; it is considered bad manners to criticise religion.
Anyway the idea is that Christians leave an envelope in your letter  box, you put money in it, and they collect it a few days later. If you have not left it out for them they knock on your door and ask for it. There were two of them this year;
“Ah yes, I have your envelope.” I fetched it from the hall table and dropped the torn up pieces into the bag that was held open explaining that I am not a Christian and I support non-religious organisations when I donate to charity.
A shocked look on their faces. Without being rude I had made my point.
The female collector had a riposte;
“You have your charity and we have ours, there is no problem”.
“But there is a problem,” I replied. “You are on my property asking for money”. I on the other hand am minding my own business in my own home”.
That’s the problem; religious believers will not leave the rest of us alone and expect our unquestioning support.
A book I recently read discusses the subject of apostasy in detail, as part of an account of waking up to the necessity of leaving a religion, having realised the harm it is doing. The author describes growing up in a loving family and with respect for the community and the culture around him, and how hard it was to come to terms with finding out the reality that this religion was not only not true, but a force for bad, not good.  Hard too, to make the break and renounce his religion whilst still being part of that group.
His enlightened, educated, loving family were shocked when presented with evidence in their holy book of the harmful tenets of their beliefs. They hadn’t realised. Their reaction was to find reasons for justifying the offending passages; unlike the author, they could not confront the evidence honestly. They had always maintained religion was peaceful. They were wrong.
Steiner-critical sites like this one aim to correct a similar lack of understanding about anthroposophy.
Once they find out, people have the choice of abandoning a belief system they can see is bad, or pretending the problems have nothing to do with them and carrying on as usual. In their hearts they acknowledge the problems, but it is easier not to act. It is easier to look  for reasons to carry on as usual, perhaps blaming the person who presented them with the truth.
Religions deal with dissenters by punishing them. How very primitive.
Apostasy is something to be proud of. It means you have taken the trouble to find out the facts, and have acted on that knowledge for the good of society. It means you haven’t been lazy or cowardly. You have been courageous.

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