Religion – Free To Think – Free To Decide

When I first walked into the room and saw him sqauwking at his desk, meekish, unsure of himself, visibly uncomfortable, awkward, a little paranoid I knew I was in for something.  I had a hunch as I watched him nervously anxiously scissoring his legs.  We were in for a long semester up there on that hill at Valley Christian.In hindsight, the writing was on the wall.  My thoughts would be robbed of me.  My ability to think hindered as I’m force fed dogma that served only him, and a select few with the same limited ability to think freely.  With me, it wasn’t going to work because I didn’t have the sheltered background of most of my peers.  I had been exposed to other ways of thinking.  And to me, the beauty of this was knowing that absolutely there were other ways of thinking.  There is not just one way.  There are many ways as there are many cultures, many different kinds of people, many languages, foods and of course the R word that can swing the pendulum in any which direction we choose, yes Religion.I was looking forward to the class.  Wow, what a concept, while all along we’d been being force-fed quotes from the Bible and having stories from the Old Testament used on us as metaphors for our daily high school challenges, now this.  It was senior year finally and I was voted by my class to have the biggest case of Senioritis.  There is still no denying that I had it and I had it big.  Bible on Thursdays, Bible passages every morning, history books made up of lies, not just here, but across our great nation and now would you believe it?  Something that tickled my fancy, something I’d always been fascinated with and intrigued by.  An adamant believer in God and Theology as a beautiful way to understand how different cultures understand and get to know God had always been so incredibly fascinating to me.  I didn’t know how the format would go but correctly assumed we’d go down the list, all the great religions from start to finish.  I’d walk out of there more profound, with a greater understanding of the world, with a deeper connection to mankind, more philosophical than I had ever been, more aligned to God.  How sadly mistaken was I.Those excitements were quickly dashed and met instead with fear, anger, resentment, hostility and psychological warfare on my little developing 17-year-old mind.  Trying to make sense of it all.  Not old enough to understand the corruption of dogma and lies.What the hell?  No pun intended of course, but what the frickin’ hell was going on up on this hilltop in Dublin, California.  Could Jesus not hear or see what was going on?  Was he going to finally make good on the relentless promise of saving us?  Would this be the day we would be saved?  Saved from the wrath of lunacy.  Saved from the dogmatic jargon being shoved and force fed down our throats.  He was coming.  The Second Coming was closer and sooner than I had anticipated.  He must be on his way.  For Heaven’s Sake, He certainly will be putting an end to this nonsense.  Where Art Though Father?However, to my dismay He didn’t come save us.  That World Religions class only exasperating my Seniroits.  Thoughts of jumping from that second story window and splatting on the pavement ran rampant as I did my best to tune out the lies and the bullshit.  At times so painful to take.  Why were we all just sitting there  feeling as though we were forced to just be agreeable?  Well, we were young so most of us didn’t know any better.So there it began on that late August morning, first period, World Religions with someone who knew only one way of thinking.  Someone who had only read the Bible, up and down and knew it inside out, but the Bible was all he knew and here he was given the absorbent task of teaching us World Religions.  A narrow-minded human being with slanted biases greater than the Great Wall taking full ownership of 34 young minds and bouncing around like some freak on Heroin making a sound and solid effort to “teach us World Religions.”But it was not World Religions in that class we were taught, for the few of us who had brains of our own or  had been exposed to other ideas we were taught that Dogma is real and depending on who you’re listening to and how open or close-minded they are you can and will be fed lies and in the end it is up to us to know better, to want to know the truth, expect the truth and demand the truth.  If something doesn’t sit right with us it’s because something is gravely wrong.  We must question, research, ask, and never assume fact from fiction.So there it went, One great religion after the next brutally butchered, castrated, shit on, belittled and sequestered.  A few facts sprinkled in between the dogmatic lies.  Dates, founders, mostly accurate, but when it came down to the beliefs and principles of each religion except for Christianity it was one stab, jab and crucifix after the next.  Each Guru, founder, saint bludgeoned before as portrayed as some awful ignorant villain who misleads millions into some cultish voray of nothingness.Aww, the disgust I felt as I already knew better.  I knew what Hinduism stood for and how it was founded.  I knew of the Trimurti, the first Holy Trinity in Hinduism and how Christianity had taken that thousands of years later and replicated and claimed ownership of an idea that hundreds of millions of Hindus had held sacred for eons B.C.How when he talked about Evolution he hopped on one leg a site I still struggle to eradicate from the darkest layers of my young 17-year-old memory banks.  How he eluded it was impossible Evolution was real because Lucy’s torso was found here while a leg was found a mile away.  He hopped for several minutes like a chimp to demonstrate the impossibility of the existence of Evolution.  Scientific evidence and data null from his limited analysis.  I asked if was possible a vulture might have carried the part of the leg a mile away and was kicked out of class.  I offended him apparently.  There was no room for reason, or questioning or free progressive thinking or inquisition.  It was his way or you would hightail it to the principle’s office.How dare I think for myself?  How dare I question the possibility of something so obvious?And that was the beginning of that senior semester that could not end soon enough.  I learned in that class that free thinking and questioning were absolutely critical to our well being.  I learned we must ask questions and never just freely accept someone’s opinions as the Bible so to speak.What I leave you with is this.  I believe in Jesus.  I believe He was real.  I also believe that millions of other worshippers who believe in other Saints, Gurus, and Sages were also real.  I am no-one to refute someone’s religious beliefs and neither are you.

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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