This is Not Why I Hate Religion
Did I ever tell you that, prior to Confirmation as a Catholic, I got put first in line to go take confession at a mass with all my Catechism classmates in it? And the priest left his collar-mic on and the entire church got to hear my thirteen-year-old confessions?
This is not why I hate religion though, I promise.
Did I also ever mention that in first grade, and again in fourth, I took the mandatory state exams and tested more than three grades above where age had placed me? And that the state even contacted my (private Catholic) school to ask about it, but the school insisted that I couldn't miss out on the religious education (and, I suspect, hefty tuition) of those years, and kept me in the grade I was in, and never offered nor suggested any kind of accelerated program for anything? I got straight A's my whole elementary-school career, never studied for a test until college, almost physically died of boredom, and got beat up by the other kids almost daily for being a smartass.
Also not why I hate religion, though, I swear.
Did I ever bring up how I got put in the corner or sent to the principal's office almost daily from kindergarten to sixth grade, for the evil crime of asking questions that made the teachers uncomfortable or challenged the Catholic curriculum?
Not why I hate religion. Kinda why I avoid the hell out of churches, though; and a bit of why the love-affair with angry speed-metal, probably.
But have I told you yet about how it all clicked for me in my 20's, how I suddenly (over the course of about a year of thinking, I suppose) realized that yes, there IS a problem with humanity and yes, it CAN be solved, and peace and happiness is actually possible on a far wider and grander scale than we ever thought possible, and furthermore this wonderfulness can only be caused by individuals realizing a potent and foundational inner truth, and the more people realize it (I haven't, by the way) the more people can and will, and every single huge nasty problem in the world (war, torture, intolerance…all things religion is historically on the wrong side of, btw) IS solvable by nothing more than fixing a philosophical error in human thinking and feeling, and if we did this then in a few generations we could be teaching children to do it, and fix the entire human race just like that?
THAT's why I hate religion.
Because it insists to people that the answers are somewhere outside themselves; distracts them from the goal by insisting they study old, flawed, broken signposts instead of walking in the direction they point; tricks them into ignoring the one thing that could actually make things better.
They all said it, loud and clear, Jesus, Buddha, everyone who had actually gotten there: fuck the religion. The answer is in you. Nobody can give it to you, or tell it to you, and no amount of following commandments or making donations or saying prayers will ever get you there. It's all a giant distraction from something you could find–can only find–by just paying really, really, really close attention to yourself. There's a broken thing in there, in your psychology, in your fundamental way of perceiving the world. See it, fix it, and you can move mountains. Don't, and you will always suffer.
So I want some credit, darnit: Religion abused me my whole childhood (and believe me, those stories up above are just a sampling), and I didn't come to truly hate it until I was fully an adult and hadn't been near a church in years.
My hatred is not reactionary. It's practical. I want enlightenment, inner peace, and spiritual evolution, for me and for everyone — and I think religion is one of the biggest obstacles to it in the whole entire world.