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Do Not Confuse Faith With Religion

Growing up from a family of devoted Christian from a predominantly Catholic country, I have experienced attending Sunday masses, services, Bible Camps, Sunday Schools; and, even worked as an altar boy (acolyte) in the church at such a young age.

At 15, I got re-baptized as a “Born Again Christian” when the leadership of my previous church turned dysfunctional and caused factions among its abysmal members. Shortly, I became actively involved in Youth and Music Ministries in my newfound congregation for the years that followed; but then again, the greed that has been slowly consuming the very foundation of the church is just unstoppable – evil and ruthless.

When I moved to Canada, I became a member of yet again, another congregation, and served as part of the 30-man or so Music Ministry that performs every hymns and anthem in Church during Sunday services, holidays, and Inter-Faith concerts. Safe to say, my faith has always been steadfast, no matter how deeply rooted in the corruption that’s killing the church, defeating its main purpose of existence. The House of Prayer becomes a rather “organized religion” of wolves in sheep’s clothing. And like the previous churches I have attended, I stopped going.

Nine summers ago, I moved to a small town, border of two big provinces in Canada, and got invited into another church. In fact, I got pretty closed to being a baptized member of that church, only until I found out that the Reverend resigned after being allegedly condemned by the other Pastors and Workers due to multicultural issues, particularly having its Caucasian churchgoers being threatened by the increasing number of immigrant and Non-Caucasian members.

This is surely a harder blow than having a church with a dysfunctional leader/worker. It is a bigger disappointment and disgrace to learn that the very house that should literally serve as a welcoming hand to the faithful is the same house that creates and allows division and hatred. Ironically, a church should heal the wounds of disparity instead of adding fire into a deadly flame.

I stopped going not because I lost hope in Him but because I have foun

d much better peace, speaking to Him privately, than being inside a building filled with churchgoers, looking sourly and passing judgment to a five-foot-seven-brown-skinned man in prayer.

I stopped going because I lost interest in organized religions. Churches become more politically maligned and profit-oriented instead of being spiritually growing in the service – of the people and of the poor as their response to the call of God.

There are new churches in town, an organized attempt at bringing people together through faith. Perhaps, a new symbol of hope in its infancy. If you ask me if I want to go, I have tried several of them. I did go. But at the end of the day, I’ve realized that not all those who go to church are religious and faithful; and not because I stopped going makes me a less-holy and got banished from God’s abundant pasture.

I have a realization. A more honest reality than what most churches think. What matters most is the relationship I build with Him outside the church – in the gas alley, at the train station, in my the kitchen, in the office washroom, by the lake, by the shore, in my room, in the bar, in a small corner of my workplace or in a coffee shop, in my tenant permanent parking zone, on the bus, on the plane, on the train, on the patio, at the skate park, at the gym, on the tennis court, and in any place where I could pause for a moment and talk to Him sincerely; anywhere in the community, within the world.

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