Friday, 29 June 2012

That one BIG comparison - religion


I'll be the first to admit to being liberal and maybe because of that I've never really "got" religion. Nor can I understand people living word by word by it and I find many religions and some religious people to be very hypocritical. In moving from a pretty secular country to somewhere where religion is very much everywhere has been a huge eye opener. And while I write this post and publish it out into the big wide world, I don't mean to cause offence if religion is your thing. [I'm all for religion - but it's not for me, don't peach at me about you're religion and don't get brainwashed about how it's the only way to lead your life, to me religion has caused far too many of the world's problems, killed too many people and claimed too many lands, but that's my own belief].

So .... RELIGION - perhaps it was how I was raised but I believe my case could well apply to many people in the UK. We're brought up with either religion meaning tradition or the religious fanaticism that leads to terrorism. Being British our religion [if you have one] is something that is personal - to broadcast or shout out about it is bad form, you keep it to yourself and you get on with your life. Or, we're just indifferent to it.

In America religion is everywhere - churches are everywhere, people talk about their religion very openly, attend church weekly and in gardens you'll find statues and shrines to the virgin Mary. I've married into a religious family - although Joe himself is rather carefree, the rest of the family seems very much by the word of the book and their praying before meals made me rather uncomfortable. The difference between our two countries is clearly quantitative, a survey in 2008 disclosed only 15% of Americans describe themselves as being of "no religion" in comparison to the 43% in the UK. Furthermore only 3% of Americans would state not believing in God to 18% of the UK population.


It even extends to the differences within blogs. Religion creeps into more American based bloggers [maybe I'm just exposed to more of them] and to me, it's a little unnerving especially with regards to how they so openly criticise other people's lives and constantly make biblical quotations, that they are sinners and Jesus saved them. There are fanatics in many religions but for a country that's meant to be so forward in the world it's amazing that religion has such a big place. I've read a comparison that religion in the USA is where religion was in the UK back in the 1500s and this I could well believe.

More so religion is in bed with politics, so much that the Republican party are often renamed as the Religious Right. From the right/church come the pro life cries [anti pill/abortion] tend to be against this on going debate for increased women's health provision. The church even continues the call for evolution to be taught in schools [although no prayers can be said at any school due to laws under the American constitution], porn is one of the biggest evils and we all know their attitudes towards gay marriage or even gay relationships. In contrast religion and politics in the UK don't mix that very often - the church will mouth off about something they disagree with but that seems to be that.


Religion seems to be a huge element for social cohesion here in the USA and it strongly seems to define many living here and being "American". But whatever your religion is, whether you have one or not shouldn't define who you and the bible shouldn't dictate what you're rights as human should be.

Just saying.

30 comments:

  1. It's so nice to read a post from people that isn't just about beauty or fashion but about real-life problems that everyone faces each day.
    I'm not religious but many of my friends are, that doesn't mean they shun me because I don't believe in the same things that they do, they accept me for who I am.
    This is a very well written post! Thank you!

    http://golddustk.blogspot.co.uk/

    xx

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    1. Thank you hun - it means a lot. I've grown up with somewhat religious friends but they were never as dedicated as it is in the UK. Plus the Christian society at university was a bit of a laughing joke when they came around with a tin of baked beans but that's another story!

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  2. I have noticed how much more religious Americans are. Lots of the bloggers who follow me attend church and quote the bible quotes and I often wonder why they bother with me, a childless-through-choice atheist who's been living in sin for over a decade, drinking and partying well into middle age. Maybe it's to scare their kids?!
    Great, thoughtful and well-written post as usual! Have a fab weekend! x

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  3. I'm from Northern Ireland, a country that has been split dramatically by religion. I see similarities between your experiences with the UK and America and my own experience between NI and the mainland UK. However, while religion greatly rules the majority of peoples' lives here it is less of a choice to follow it (like it appears to be in the US) and more of a tradition, resulting in many people not fully understanding. Personally, I don't follow a religion, sometime I adopted from my parents. While I went to church as a child I was never labelled as either a 'protestant' or a 'catholic'. Indeed, I only found out in secondary school after being asked by peers, at first my parents were very reluctant to tell me as it such a source of conflict.
    This is an incredibly well written post. It is also very refreshing to read a post which isn't about nails or an outfit, but is instead about such a (often) controversial issue. I applaud you for not preaching yourself against religion, something which often happens in posts like this.

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    1. I can fully understand the differences even within Ireland and I can see why many Irish people possibility wouldn't have a religion because of the troubles in the past. It's a shame that still such a live living issue in Ireland today.

      Thanks for the positive feedback Hazel, I know not everyone will agree with what I have to say but it's just my little take on the world!

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  4. Agree with pretty much every word. But not brave enough to say it. Kudos to you. It's a shame that some aspects make you feel uncomfortable, but I'm glad ur happy with your man who thinks similarly to you! xx

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  5. I think being from the UK (which I am a little bit jealous because I reeeeally want to go to Europe sometime!!) makes a huge impact on the way things come across, which that is true for anyone from outside the US. Just like you said, in the UK religion is rooted in tradition, and I pray that Christians in the US are moving further and further away from that. Religion is a set of rules, traditions, and requirements. A person's faith should never be based on any of those things. It should be based on truth and love. Very eye-opening perspective from another part of the world.

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    1. Sometimes I think religion is just growing more and more in the US where as it's the total opposite in the UK and I guess my experiences reflect what I believe.

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  6. I'm one of those people that hate it when religious fanatics try to convince me I'm "wrong". No one is wrong. We have the free will to believe or not believe. My father-in-law is an atheist. I have no problem with it until he goes out of his way to make me feel stupid for believing in something he doesn't.
    I'm kind of a contradiction. My a Catholic and a Liberal.I'm pro-choice and am on the Pill for hormonal reasons. Those are two issues the Catholic Church are strongly against. The thing about religion (or anything else for that matter) is that people forget that it is up for interpretation. Everyone's opinion is different.

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    1. Its refreshing to see a Catholic that is liberal! To me personally I find things that happen with and to my body a personal thing, that i'm very uncomfortable that a text would dictate what happens to it.

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    2. I learned that a lot of the body issues are man made laws which I don't necessarily adhere to. It's my body and I should do what I want with it. I have several tattoos. We are taught that our bodies are a temple. The way I look at it, I'm decorating my temple.

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  7. I don't really agree with you. I strongly believe that there are fanatics everywhere that really go off the deep end trying to convert you to their way of thinking. I do not think religion is a bad thing, but I think that some people take things too far and believe that there way is best and they disagree with other opinions. I am a Christian. I believe in God. I believe that I should, well that everyone should, treat others equally no matter their religion. I believe that I have the right to express my opinion and my views, but it is not right for me to belittle others views if they are different from mine. I do not believe be religious defines "American" as you put it, but I do believe having the right to choose your Religion or to not choose it at all is "American."
    Just saying.

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    1. If you think I was belittling anyone because they are religious then you are mistaken. Also I never claimed that Christians were the only freak frantic religion out there. But the say some state that it's all Muslims with the issues need to look at themselves - remember that church dude wanting to burn all the Muslim texts - I wouldn't call that very Christian would you?!

      Additionally I've come across many religious people who are hypocritical, and how people interpret say religious texts is very misguided at times. Because a religious text says two men shouldn't be together does that mean they should be treated any less of a human or have the same rights as a husband and wife? Also say the bible's texts on slavery is a rather interesting read.

      Just saying.

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  8. Interesting Rachael, I think I would find it very difficult to be tolerant of
    actively religious people if I were in the states, being in the same situation as Vix (well, apart from the partying). Although organised religion is not so obvious here in the UK there are a lot of people who 'believe' something, it might be UFOs or conspiracy theories or ley lines. I would say that poor education and lack of critical analysis is at the root of this.

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  9. One of the reasons I'm pretty patriotic and a happy Brit is because of the lack of persecution - implicit or explicit - here over religion. I have a friend in the US who moved there from the UK when we were children and said that it made her incredibly uneasy that such emphasis was placed on religion in all aspects of life - even in school, regardless of the supposed separation of church and state.

    I can only compare the UK and the US through friends' accounts and my own reading on the subject so definitely not an authority! Would definitely agree though that we have a very 'live and let live' attitude in the UK toward being religious or non-religious. Except for those pesky, door-knocking 'Have you found Jesus/Jehovah' types!! Bleurgh!

    Jem xXx

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  10. Bah . . . typed out a rather large comment only for my browser to pitch a fit. Essentially I was going to say that we do have a very 'live and let live' mentality here in the UK when it comes to being religious or non-religious - except for those pesky door-knocking 'Have you found Jehovah/Jesus?' types. Bleurgh.

    Jem xXx

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  11. I'm not religious. And I don't mind people who are religious. However, I do mind when religious people try to shove their beliefs down my throat. I'm have a lot of political beliefs but I never try to force them on anyone so to me it's really offending to have someone who is religious try to sway me.

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  12. I'm born and raised a Christian, as is hubby. I'd like to think I live a Christian life, but I would never preach to others or enforce my views on them, and actually I have little time for pious preachers either. Maybe it's an English thing. X

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  13. An interesting post Rachael. I've noticed that lots of American bloggers are very openly religious but my philosophy is that if you don't like it, don't read it. The in your face religiousness from some bloggers has put me off and I don't read their blogs but others such as The Wiegands or The Shine Project I happily keep going back to because their faith is such a big part of them but they are not preachy, just honest.

    I'm not religious, neither was I brought up to be, but I have studied Theology as I find religion fascinating. I don't agree that religion itself causes the problems that we're dealing with today, or the wars that we've fought over the centuries, I think you have man to pin that one on! One day humans might just be smart enough to learn to be able to live side by side no matter what their personal beliefs.

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  14. I feel pretty much identically to you! Where I live you don't know if a person is religious or not because we don't really discuss it. You have written this very well, you did not belittling anyone's beliefs you just compared the difference from where you used to live and the life you lead now. xx

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  15. While I respect your opinions and thoughts, I can't say that I agree.
    For me, it's not about "religion". In fact, I'm not "Religious", at all. For me, it's about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that very much defines who I am because my *Faith* is a huge party of my every day life. I'm not judgmental, and I'm not going to condemn others for not believing the same things I do, nor am I going to shove my faith down your throat, but I'm not going to hide who I am and what my faith means to me - not for any reason. That is my right. To each their own.
    :)

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  16. You make a good point. I can really uncomfortable when reading blogs about other things and religion manages to creep in there in a way that somehow feels inappropriate. But keep in mind America was a country based on religious freedom--specifically founded by Puritans who thought the Europeans weren't being religious ENOUGH.

    I also think people can get very preachy with assumptions everyone's supposed to agree with them religion-wise, but on the other hand I think it's good that people feel so free to discuss their beliefs which, when it comes to religion, are highly personal, without fear of getting into trouble or seeming offensive.

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  17. P.S. Those church signs are hilarious.

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  18. This is a brilliant post, I find it interesting reading US blogs in comparision to UK ones as religion just isnt that much of a huge thing here. I was raised by non religious parents who actually took us out of school assemblies as they made us pray to 'god'. x
    http://www.tigerlillyquinn.blogspot.com

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  19. I'm not religious at all but I respect peoples beliefs. The thing I hate is when people use religion in a hateful/judgemental way. I don't judge people who are religious so don't like it the other way round. I just hate being preached at about anything in general and religion seems to be prone to that. Each to their own but I do think it should be a private thing.

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  20. This was a really interesting read. Although I do have respect for people who follow religion, its awful seeing the amount of hate that can come from relgious people. Hate shouldn't belong in relgion.

    Hannah
    www.daintyandivory.blogspot.com

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  21. I was just thinking about this the other day. I've lived my whole life in the US but have never been religious. Thankfully, no one has ever been judgmental about my views, and I am certainly not judging them on theirs. We all live our lives differently, and that is just fine. But yeah, my personal opinion is that I see how religion has divided rather than united populations, and it has also ostracized certain members of the population that don't fit neatly into the "normal" category. It happens the world over (with the exception of secular countries, of course.) When my husband first moved here from the UK, I think the prevalence of religion did take him by surprise. I suppose I am just rambling now, and really just wanted to say that I basically agree with the way you think.

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  22. I know how you feel... my family aren't religious at all, they're not atheists, my dad is even a trustee to restore our local church, but it's not something that ever comes into our daily lives. Like ever.

    My BF's family aren't really religious either, but his grandparents are strict Mormons. But even his parents do things like say Grace and go into a prayer... it's not that it makes me uncomfortable or anything, I just get a bit stumped by it and don't know how to act?

    But it's weird right... most people in the UK will use "Christmas" to define the winter holidays, and "Easter" to define that Spring holiday period, and then "Whitsun" as well... but other than Christmas I rarely hear Americans use these phrases to mark the calendar year.

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