7/08/2011 | Share this article:By Carl S. ~
Good evening. My name is Bill W. Churchaholics Anonymous is an organization open to religious addicts; former members of any denomination. We are here to support and share our experiences, recovery from, and newfound freedom from religion. Our first speaker tonight will be Matt, a friend of mine for decades. Matt has unusual 'takes' on religion, helpful we trust, to everyone here.
Hello. My name is Matt W., and I‘m a recovering religious addict – in recovery for 21 years now. One of my reasons for getting out of religion has just come to my attention in a news release. The Vatican has issued new guidelines to deal with clergy pedophilia, recommending reporting it to the police. But, it offers a way out of even doing that. Anything said in the confessional is privileged between the client and priest-confessor, ergo, exempt from reporting to authorities. So, even when the Church loses, it wins, through the seal of confession. It's that kind of injustice and hypocrisy of god and his agents that became one reason to drop it all. Another reason was that the belief system demanded that we be hypocrites. Freeing myself meant I didn't have to continue that charade.
And speaking of charades, we’re brought up to believe that churches and mosques, etc., are superior places for the practice of morality. My experience is that they are fronts for good old boy networks, where they cover each other’s asses, and if anyone gets found out, a network to forgive them and do damage control. So, whenever I hear the word, "holy," I immediately look behind the curtain.
How did we become addicts to begin with? Some will immediately say that the first shoot-up was free, while others will recall the kind words, fresh hamburgers, Oreos, doctrines, were all part of the same package deal - like kids taking candy from a stranger, going off with him, hand in hand. The well meaning addicts are the worst, because they are victims themselves. I'm sure you have your own input, so it might be time to move on to why we stayed addicted; what's the nature of religious addiction?
Well, addicts can’t stay away from those blissful ‘highs' and so-called insights. Like gambling addicts, they forget and ignore all the losses, the failures, concentrating on the winnings and the thrill of it all. They have to pray incessantly and read and listen to only whatever supports the habit. And, like all drugs, religion is expensive. Why, I remember the pastor telling us to tithe, which meant giving one-tenth of my income BEFORE taxes. So, I said to myself, "Wait a minute. AFTER taxes is what I take home." So, I tithed on an after-tax basis, and felt guilty about it! But, you're in the addiction, for want of an alternative, and even those with no real income HAVE to pay. They are hooked, and don’t even WANT to think about life without their drugs, even if given the chance.
Addiction creates its own reality, where survival seems to depend on satisfying the craving. Without his fix, the person is a lost child in a vast crowd. The addict loves company and needs to share his addiction to support it. He must go to church services, Wednesday night bible services, bible studies. He is uneasy in the presence of non-addicts, like the drunk who is only uninhibited and hyper-social among others who drink.
The addicted demand what they NEED, now. And, as the saying goes, "Don't ever argue with a drunk. You can't win.” They only want to hear from fellow addicts. They just MUST have their prayers before meals in restaurants and city council meetings and INSIST everyone else respect their addiction. These addicts are out there recruiting. The more the merrier - just you try to keep them away. But don't discuss differences of opinion. They are like the man who said, "I read so many articles about the harmful and dangerous effects of smoking, that I gave up reading."
Okay, who do you know who isn't on some kind of escape; prescription or illegal drugs, alcohol, pot, tranquilizers? This is the most pill-popping, drinking, gun-firing country on earth, this "Christian" nation. And, I'll wager you, the southern end of the Bible belt is the most addicted. So, I figure that one addiction doesn't stand alone; there are others as well. It figures.
We are here today because we 'got clean,' and how big and beautiful the world has become after taking off those rose-colored glasses of religious addiction! We realize what we had been missing. As the ancient Greek told the slave, "If you knew what freedom is, you would never be a slave again."
Hi. My name is Bob G. I would never have admitted that I had a problem. I was in denial. But I just couldn’t keep the denials going; that didn't work for me.
My name's Tony. When I was a Benedictine novice, I asked the priest at a bible study, "You tell us that God hates the sin but not the sinner? But, it says in the text that God hates all evildoers. Would you explain that?” He didn't, and that stuck with me, and I remember it still, almost 60 years later.
My name's Fred M. Your talking about confession reminded me of something. When I was a teen, I used to masturbate a lot. Being a Catholic, that was a mortal sin, so I had to go to confession to get absolved. I didn't go to the same priest each time. If I did, he'd have to tell me I couldn't get ’absolution' unless I stopped. So, "God" always forgave me, with this system. After a while, I figured, this is total bullshit. Then later on, I got laid and traded one addiction for another. Wonder how many others had the same experience? (Several hands are raised.)
Sarah T.: It didn't make sense and felt abusive to have a clergyman asking me questions about my sex life with my boyfriend. And then I found out about the priests raping kids, and those holy men with their affairs. But most of all, it was all the stupidity I was doped up on.
Carl S.: My niece, Bonnie, affectionately called Bunny, was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. While she was working, she went to masses three times a day, before work, during lunch hour, and after work. She died young, but her mother is still an addicted Christian. It isn’t just the addiction that bothers me, but she's 86, and still hasn't learned. They tell you that leaving religion is a 'choice,’ but for me, it was like finding my wife copulating with a neighbor: do you CHOOSE to judge her? I caught "God" with his pants down too many times.
Mary K. Well, you know, I figured if doing evil things worked for God, then he'd have no motivation to change, just like all addicts, so he wouldn't. People come to places like this when their old habits don't work, for one thing. So, I don't hold out much hope as long as these addictions continue.
Bill W.: Well, we're wrapping up for now. If it's any consolation, our numbers ARE growing, and maybe we're out-pacing the converts to those religions. I'd like to add something in concluding. After my brother died, I was in communication with the state’s agent for the estate. She reported finding bottles of vodka, some half empty and others not opened, all over the house. My brother was a WWII vet, in the Marines. She commented, "Alcohol was the drug of choice for his generation.” My brother and my father were alcoholics and religious, and I am neither. Have a freedom-loving evening and life.