It isn't that I'm not religious or don't hold some spiritual thought. But experience, my experience that is, has shown me that Christians, overall, either do what they can to convert you or else they assume you're one of them. I cannot tell you how many times I've used the term "God" in a conversation and the Christians automatically assume I mean "Jesus" or assume I'm Christian. When I explain further my belief system, more often than not, the other person places an emotional distance between us. So in one moment I'm in their corner, I'm cool, and suddenly, because my version of "god" is different than their version, I'm to be shunned. It's all so silly. But it's happened enough that I've become cautious towards anyone wearing the Christian label.
I had an experience recently at a gathering. I was sharing one of my goals that I have been working towards. Career goal. This person asked if I was familiar with a particular book, to which I wasn't. Check it out, I was told. I have a feeling you would really enjoy it.
I finally got around to looking into the particulars of this book and found out it is written from a Christian perspective, with scripture thrown in throughout the book. Did something in me say "I'm a Christian" to this individual? Did they not think to ask what my religious preference was? Did they not stop to think perhaps I was a Buddhist? A Hindu? Muslim? Jewish? Or none of the above? Did they not think to even mention it had a Christian theme to it?
Some may deem me as being overly sensitive. However, being well over 3/4 of the U.S. population claim themselves as being Christian, those of us who don't define ourselves as Christian feel kind of left out at times. I've been told I'm going to hell or that I should be concerned about going to hell/concerned about my salvation so many times, I don't care to estimate a guess.
It doesn't have to be this way though. If only the Church would stop saying "Those who don't accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are going to hell", a lot of that awkwardness between the religious and secularists, even between the religious and the religious and/or spiritualists would disappear. We could come together as one, knowing from whence we all came, we will all return. I mean come on, what source of love, what higher intelligence would say, upon death, "Stop right there. Do you believe "X"? Yes, come on in. No, follow the flames." Does that not strike anyone as a bit ridiculous? As I've often thought, if that is indeed how it is, I'd rather experience the after-life with like-minded/conscience souls, in freedom, instead of living in fear in some strictly defined heaven. Or if hell was the option, then toss me in. I would not care to exist for eternity in any state of mind knowing I was being forced into a particular belief system just to stay conscious. That isn't love as I define it. It isn't freedom. It's judgment. It's control. We should know. Most of our leaders (public and private) practice it daily.
Continuining the conversation.... What if, upon your death as a Christian, you start to question some of the things (religiously speaking) you were taught while on earth. It's possible, correct? And as such, according to your churches teachings, wouldn't that lead to some sort of a punishment from God? Or a scolding, similar to a parent nudging a child to return to a more appropriate behavior? Do you like to be told what to do now as an adult? I don't know anyone who does, young or old actually. Who wants to spend eternity worrying about whether we're doing the right thing? We have enough of that pressure here on earth.
Think about that. Upon death, you must maintain one belief, for all eternity. Where is the freedom in that? Physical prison is one thing, but mental/conscious prison is oh so much more terrifying. At least to me.
Of course, the entire agenda of the church would crumble if that basic premise were removed, and the leaders wouldn't have much left to preach about (certainly the fear factor would be eliminated and thus, regular attendance and dollars would drop dramatically) and the members would have all of that spare time once spent recruiting. As I asked my brother: "What about the person who was raised in some remote jungle, where the terms 'jesus' and 'the bible' aren't even part of their vocabularly?" His response: "God would give him a chance once he died to change his mind." My response: "Could you change what is essentially an entire belief structure upon death?" His response: "If I was told not to do so would send me to hell, yes." My response: "But that's not authentic change. Real change comes from absolute personal truth, not fear."
Next time I'm at a gathering, I think I'll wear a little sign that says "I believe in Unity. I may use the term "god" now and then. But I wear no religious label. And I'm still cool."