Religion Gone Wrong: The Aftermath of Religious Affiliations and Leaving the Church
There are more people than you might realize who walk by you every day having no faith at all. I have met some very agitated adult children of Catholicism, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses and a few other religious affiliations. So many people are in a mindset of either doubting, or blatantly objecting to the existance of God based solely on what they dealt with through childhood. What is it that drove them away, causing such a seed of contempt toward organized religion? This is a primary example of religion gone wrong.
I was born into the Jehovah’s Witness religion myself, and am quite knowledgeable on the doctrines that their organisation subscribe to, as well as the practices within their religion. It took many years of study to determine the extreme differences between the Jehovah’s Witnesses and mainstream Christianity. The end result was my forming a support group for former JWs around the world who had gone through suffering at the hand of the Watchtower Society. There have been coverups in the church, divisions in families, depression, anxiety, scandals, distortion of scripture, extremist rules within the church, changed doctrines, false prophesies and a slew of other things that would drive anyone to labeling this “organisation of God” as a “cult”.
In my dealings with former Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world, I have come to know both sides of the spectrum. There are those who embrace the Lord now that they have found salvation in Christ, and there are those who profess that God does not exist. In the middle, there are Agnostics, who frankly don’t know what to believe. Many are strictly opposed to organized religion all together, and the suggestion of proper doctrine leaves them doubtful, skeptical, and untrusting. This is typically the after-effects of bad religion.
When a religious organisation is focused more on the destruction of end times, and this is a predominant teaching on a consistent basis, it is no wonder why some listening ears are made to think that nothing positive comes from religion. The key factor to consider here however, is that religion in itself is actually the study of human action based on their perception of a presence of God, and spirituality is something entirely different. When one has a relationship with God, this does not indicate that they are part of a religion. Identifying one’s self as Christian simply means a follower of Christ. There is a huge difference. It is not true to say that if one has no religion that they have no spirituality. In fact, the decision to pick no part in organized religion via attending church, does not mean one has no love or relationship with God.
Some cults, including Jehovah’s Witnesses actually teach their members that if one leaves the church, they have apostasized and thereby turned their backs on God. It is as if the church is saying that if you are a member of their organization, you are directly linked to God, but that without them you cannot have a relationship with God This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many members who leave churches maintain a relationship with God. If the Jehovah’s Witness church, for example, finds that the former member has chosen another religious belief, or claim that they have found salvation through Christ alone, then the organization has taught members to believe that this person is actually following Satan. They will tell outsiders that each has free will to choose and that they don’t judge, but the truth of the matter is if someone leaves the organization, there will be serious repercussions. The former member will typically lose all contact and association with any current Jehovah’s Witnesses through the practice of shunning. While there still remains to be many Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim that they do not shun, and that such information is a lie of the devil, the facts are the facts. Shunning of former members is taking place, and it is destroying relationships, including families. This remains to be the case even if the former member of the religion has found a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As a result, the Jehovah’s Witness church has become stigmatized as being a cult that is not based on the love of Jesus Christ which is mentioned in the Bible, but rather the loyalty to a man-made organization who believes that they are under God’s guidance.
If you come across someone who has been affiliated with a religion and has a bad taste in their mouth as a result, you may find bitterness within that person. It is wise to take into consideration that which they have gone through at the hands of organized religion. However, not all organized religions are bad, or cults, or contain false teachings. While there may be variation of doctrines between churches, and sometimes those doctrines even divided the churches, there are millions of folks out there who have chosen to dedicate their lives and faith to the Lord by their own personal relationship with Him. Let the record show that I am living proof of this. There can be very spiritual people who actually are not affiliated with a particular church. This should not cause anyone of any church to judge them in any way pertaining to their salvation.
It is my hope that those who have been affected negatively by religious organizations will take the time to give the Lord a chance and study on a personal level, or even give thought to trying out a new church. If one has not found a church nearby which makes them feel welcomed and presents truth from a biblical standpoint, then it is advisable that you adopt (or continue in) your own personal study in order to advance in learning the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Don’t let organized religion sway how you feel about God. He is not the Father of faults of men. He is the Father of you personally, and a personal relationship with Him can offer you much more than you may even realize.