From The Confessional: Religion Almost Ruined My Life

by Karen Johnson

Organized religion has actively oppressed women, as well as various ethnic and racial groups worldwide, since the beginning of time. Abuse is justified in the name of religion. Hate and judgment are justified in the name of religion. For centuries, scandals have been overlooked or kept hidden in order to protect high-ranking religious officials. Women have been brainwashed and forced to have babies, entire villages and cities have been decimated by violence, kids have been raised to loathe themselves and endure torturous conversion therapy, and LGBTQ folks worldwide have been denied the right to love who they love and truly be who they are—all in the name of some higher power.

The toxicity is so damaging that some spend a lifetime trying to undo it, and can’t. However, lots of adults are able to break free and realize that that there is another path—a path that allows their kids to be true to themselves, and that doesn’t judge a person if they miss church, swear, drink, prevent a pregnancy, or enjoy sex.

The truth is, though, religion in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of houses of worship and religious leaders who welcome everyone, preach genuine compassion and kindness, and offer a feeling of hope and community to those in need—whether they are rich, poor, Black, white, gay, straight, have 10 kids or no kids, and everyone in between.

But the religions that don’t—who teach that there is only one way of living, who actively cover up domestic abuse and child abuse, but tell church-goers that they’re going to hell if they don’t read their Bible, who shame girls for how they dress and force them into young motherhood against their wishes—these are the religious groups that ruin lives. And they are the reason organized religions continue to lose members year after year as families get out, find freedom, and choose a life of joy over judgment and fear.

realizing that young me settled due to fear and religious upbringing is so painful to acknowledge. feeling more crushed in this marriage every day. we started out w/promise but fell into right wing religion. i made my way out, dh still stuck. feel sad.

Confessional #25829021

Due to religion I ;Lost virginity to husband, did not abort,Dressed & acted modestly. Gave to others & tried my best to not act selfishly. I am struggling while the people who acted “ungodly excel. I’m agnostic now, feel like I’ve wasted my life.”

Confessional #25828813

standing for my own needs is foreign to me but getting easier. raised in a religion that taught women should disappear and neglect themselves for hubs and kids. tired of doing this. dh and kids are better w/o my self sacrifices. relationships better too.

Confessional #25823825

Many women look back 10, 20, 30 years into their marriages and realize how much religion controlled their choices, their decisions, and how trapped they were at a young age.

The only reason I have children is because of religion brainwashing and abuse. I didn’t want kids. It was drilled in my head that I was supposed to be a mom and that there were spirits waiting to come down through me. I wish I would have woken up sooner

Confessional #25826385

My religion doesn’t allow birth control. I wish my uterus would spontaneously combust so I’d never have to worry about getting pregnant again.

Confessional #25824634

If I could go back in time, a million times over I wouldn’t have kids. It’s so hard being a parent. I’ve lost myself and I hate it. Fuck religion for indoctrinating me to think that’s all I was good for.

Confessional #25820306

The strict path to motherhood—especially the stay-at-home life with no career prospects—is often the only path for young girls and women. Even if they don’t really want to be moms at all. Their religion doesn’t GAF.

felt next to nothing when dad passed. had a polite but distant relationship. same w/mom. i had to distance from her to save my marriage/life. now just polite weekly calls. i'll be relieved when it's over. their religion was more important than their kids.

Confessional #25828747

wish my parents had gone to therapy instead of joining the pentecostal religion when i was young. yes they needed to stop drinking and learn how to live as a family, but roaming the u.s. as a minister was not how to do it. fuck toxic religion.

Confessional #25827448

dad just died. sad as he was a nice man, but he gave his all to the church not us. never really knew him outside some fun interactions in social situations. so i don't feel super sad. glad he no longer suffers. but i hate organized religion.

Confessional #25824266

mom foisted old junk onto me when she moved out of state. glad to see her go and promptly thru it all out. even the bible dad preached from. she thought i'd want it. she does not know i threw it out in anger. not sorry. hated their shitty religion.

Confessional #25823819

It’s heartbreaking to grow up realizing that your parents care more about their religion than your welfare, and when forced to choose between you and the church, you know they’ll choose the church any day.

my inlaws caused such sorrow and chaos that i am glad they are gone. those two morons caused their kids pain, me pain, and my kids pain. all because their bible told them so. their deaths set us all free. glad their religion is dying too.

Confessional #25825185

i am so glad inlaws are gone. they were an emotional drain and caused constant anxiety w/their needs real or percieved. they pushed constant guilt and shame on their kids in the name of their toxic religion. they are not missed at all.

Confessional #25819142

cannot tell anyone how glad i am inlaws are dead. they caused so much misery. dh is now seeing how horrible they were and having a hard time admitting it. but he is getting better daily. these two shits were motivated by their religion. glad we got out.

Confessional #25824879

i think i am a generally good person, but i con't help but feel giddy that mil passed and fil has been gone several years. those two miserable assholes caused us all such stress. their religion was the root of their nastiness. good riddance i say.

Confessional #25823466

And if you’re in the “I’m relieved my religious zealot in-laws are dead because their toxic beliefs were ruining our lives” camp… we get it.

fell into extreme conservative religion years ago. we raised our kids this way until they were late elementary age. we came out of it, but the remnants harmed us all. now we live w/o church, but i feel sad for the wasted $, stress, and time. sorry kids.

Confessional #25817135

started out as homeschooling conservative christian. still homeschooling, but more liberal and progressive. we look back and laugh at what we thought way back then. then we see the horrible behavior of the religious right. glad to see religion dying out.

Confessional #25817856

i have had enough religious patriarch bullshit in my life. we left church years ago, but it still shows up in H sometimes. i have been pushing back but i am careful as i don't want my child to go thru a divorce. H is learning tho. FUCK RELIGION!

Confessional #25828125

Thankfully, parents are breaking the cycle and getting out. And their children are able to live far better, happier lives as a result—lives of choice and personal fulfillment that they’d be denied otherwise.

freeing myself from religion is hard but at the same time exhilarating. also scary as i cannot blame or shirk my responsibility in a given situation. would not go back though.

Confessional #25830831

now that i've dropped organized religion and the american church, i feel freer to read my bible and live the actual teaching of christ. i have more love and compassions for others now. so sad that evangelicalism has been so toxic.

Confessional #25825040

I like the new version of me. Left religion behind. Came out of the closet. Am more accepting and loving of others. Unfortunately can't be this version of myself in front of anyone I know, they're far-right Christians. Need to move away and start over.

Confessional #25818731

i feel happier and more positive since i gave up a judgmental religion and life view. live and let live has led me to greater happiness. feeling freer and less stressed w/o needing to have a definitive answer to everything.

Confessional #25815752

Because the greatest feeling in the world is freedom, and sometimes it takes breaking out of the chains of organized religion in order to truly be free.

Having faith and being a part of a welcoming, supportive religious community can be the best part of a person’s life. When suffering, it might be your church friends who rally around you, offering you support, and helping with your kids. When you feel self-doubt, it can be your faith that helps you feel strong enough to keep going.

But all of that support and strength isn’t worth much if that same religion emboldens you to hate and judge others. Or makes you hate yourself. If the leaders you look to for guidance tell you there is only one path for you, and that path isn’t what you want, and if they consume your mind, your life, and your finances and all that’s left of you outside your church world is a shadow of yourself, get TF out.

Those are the religions and houses of worship and leaders you need to break away from—for your own happiness and for your kids’. They aren’t “serving” anything other than a hefty dose of hatred, and you need to run. Run instead to a community that welcomes everyone, is truly kind, teaches love is love, and actually helps those in need.