• Sophie Rochelle Merchant

Religion And / Or Secularisation....That is the Question.


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**Have a great Christmas**


Religion has played a large role within my environment and childhood upbringing, one that does not necessarily reflect in my religious choices and affiliations today but has impacted on my morality and personal values. I was brought up within the Christian faith and both my parents were moderately religious, my mother attending Church regularly and my father always strong in his union to a God of some kind. Today, I chose not to affiliate with any kind of religion and although I attend Church on occasions such as Christmas and Easter, religion is very much a ceremonial concept to me, one which no longer holds any real sanctity or qualitative value. Thus, religion is something that is embedded in the subconscious and is as entwined in my character by a process of nurture that I can choose to evade in my adult years however has shaped a core part of me.

Growing up, Christianity was shown to me in the values of family, truth, generosity and compassion and these values have grown with me in terms of my relationships with my parents, family and friends. Even if I do not consider myself a practising Christian (church attendance, prayer, worship and charity) I don’t believe religion to be about a strict rota of customs and tasks but the application of values and ideals to everyday situations. In many ways my problem with religious affiliation stems from the need for rigorous and relentless proof of faith and the conversion cause, I don’t think ‘pure’ religiosity should be about those who can shout the loudest but is an intimate and clandestine relationship between the individual and their own values and beliefs. My parents’ induction of myself into Christianity helped me to view religion from this perspective and I am grateful for the judicious approach that I was given and the secular pathway that was always an alternative.

It is interesting to note where my religious decisions derive from, however, and how the media and external forces within my upbringing altered the course of my affiliation which was principally set for the Christian faith. Firstly, I believe that a lot of my deference for religion- primarily in its ecclesial form- stems from Hollywood movies such as The Wicker Man, The Omen and The Exorcist where religion is depicted as a tool for horror and of disturbing consequences. The idea of the devil has become so sexy in today’s movie culture; depicted as something so present in everyday life that it is almost reborn from the figure within the Bible and into a very tangible and humanistic form. The way that the devil is given life scares me in a way that is hard to explain. The reality of such a powerfully destructive force makes me reject religion on the basis that this force is a creation of Christianity and is only real in relation to my religiosity. The ritualistic and cultist connotations that are drawn from religion is also linked to the magnification of religious practices by the media, although these elements are not necessarily conducive to modern religion these concepts remain significant to me from childhood.

In future, I am sceptical as to whether religion as an institution will have any large impact on my life decisions and actions. I commend religion for laying the foundations of good morals and values on the self in respect of others but find that this can also be achieved by nurture from alternative sources such as parenting and education. I would, however, like to allow my children to choose which religious affiliation they would like to belong to, whether that is a faith or to apostate from religion which is the decision I was given. I don’t believe that religion should become a chore-like commitment which is bound to an individual from birth like a burden, but I believe that individuals should be free to decide which values and morals they would like to religiously live by.

Copyright: Sophie Rochelle Merchant 2013

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