Recently, I’ve developed an interest in religion. I identify as an Atheist; however, technically I’m Catholic, my upbringing and still, a large majority of my family life is, and probably will always be, Catholic. You could say I’m an Atheist-Catholic, I don’t believe in religion BUT I still take part in some of the holidays and will attend mass for funerals, Christmas, weddings, christenings, etc… My mom is a religious woman. She will go to mass every weekend and will often go pray when things aren’t going right in life and her faith has definitely helped her through many tough times. However, It often frustrates me when her faith merges together with her opinions, predominantly her view that children being brought up without religion have “no guidance” and therefore, religion in school is necessary. In Ireland, the Catholic Church has played a major role in society and Irish laws. Up until recently, all primary schools had Catholicism at the forefront of its education with prayers being said in the morning, before and after lunch breaks, and in the evenings. I attended an extremely small primary school, with only twenty-two students in the entire school divided into two classrooms, one for seniors and one for juniors. Every single child was Catholic and I honestly don’t think I knew any other religion existed until I moved onto second level education. Thankfully, my secondary school was not strictly Catholic and although, we still had to attend one religion class every week, it was a broader teaching including various other religions.
In secondary school, I was introduced to various other forms of Christianity that were all, somewhat, the same but they were definitely not the same either. I also became aware of various other groups of religions and I somewhat came to the realisation that if there are multiple religions then which one is the right one? I decided after much consideration at the age of eighteen, that religion didn’t completely make sense to me and I knew I didn’t really believe in it. Primarily, I don’t particularly like the pyramid aspect of religion; how every generation recruits their own children and teaches them to believe one thing without allowing them to consider the many, many other options. Additionally, I absolutely hate when people discriminate against other religions. Basically, from what I can gather, there are good and bad people in every single faith (and people without faith), religion doesn’t create good/bad people, there are an abundance of circumstances that would do that so blaming a whole religion for the actions of a number of people is ridiculous. In Ireland, some priests within the Catholic Church used to sexually assault young children in the past, they used to send young mothers to Mother & Baby homes if they got pregnant outside marriage to have their children sent away to be adopted days after being born; however, you can’t blame the whole Catholic religion for these actions.
Over the last few months, I’ve been exploring various types of religions, as I feel I’ve only been exposed to Christian beliefs. While I do see the benefits of having faith and there is so much good that can be taken from religious teachings, I also believe that you can take the good traits from multiple religions without having faith in one religion. I’ve been enjoying the process of researching the history and beliefs of these religions and considering the aspects I like. I never realised that Christianity derived from Judaism, being a member of Abrahamic religions, and found it interesting that this was never taught to us in school. I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone of Jewish faith, so I’m finding this sector particularly interesting at the moment as it’s entirely new to me. I also, personally, like some of the ideas of old pagan beliefs and the significance of spirituality and nature. While I don’t believe in religion, I think there’s so much you can learn from them. My main aim, is that when I do have children that I’ll be able to teach them valuable aspects from all religions and to be considerate of those religions but ultimately, bring them up without a set religion. If they feel specifically drawn to one religion then it will be their own decision to join that religion as they grow older.
My opinions and knowledge on this topic is growing daily, I’m currently waiting on a book from the library which will probably make my mind explode even more!!! Please do feel free to share your religious beliefs (or lack of) with me and educate me, I love learning about multiple faiths and their role in people’s lives 🙂