Let me first say that I am not against the presence of institutions; I believe they are necessary. We need systems of operation and governing. And I am not against religion. There is a god; so religion is necessary. What I don’t find necessary is a system that is set up to work against the very God it proclaims.
Reason #1: There are too many different people in the world to attempt to advance one particular theology, or way of understanding God, over another. It would be great for us all to agree on God; but that won’t happen any time soon.
Reason #2: Any institution that claims to have a monopoly on God inherently divides people, which is the antithesis of God. No one church or religion has THE answer; we are all different parts of the same whole trying to write, live, and tell our individual story of God and life.
Reason #3: Religion as an institution has failed to do what almost every other socially constructed institution has figured out how to do: change with the tides. Walking into most churches is like traveling back in time because the music, methods, and messages are so outdated, culturally irrelevant or insensitive, and no longer socially effective.
Reason #4: Any institution that seeks to represent the Almighty God but can justify, perpetuate, or cover up things like genocide, child abuse, slavery, and classism loses credibility overtime and becomes increasingly irrelevant to future generations.
Reason #5: In the years since the Protestant Reformation, institutionalized religion has been used to impose the agenda of the very organizers and leaders of the institutions, which only empowers the dominant people groups of our society and perpetuates the marginalization of minority people groups in our society.
Religion is the active belief in God. Institutionalization seeks to establish norms or a systematic way for doing things. Institutionalized religion, therefore, seeks to establish a system for actively believing in and engaging God. How did anyone ever believe this was possible? There is one God and over 6 billion people on the planet…we will forever be united by the Spirit of God but we will never have one, single, unified thought of God or way of worshipping God. It’s no surprise to me that we have such divergent religious views, but what I can’t comprehend is why we must be divided as people of God over our views. Is it not possible to agree to disagree without causing or inflicting harm on one another because of our differences?
In a perfect world, churches and religious groups would all gather individually in community to maintain their specific traditional approaches to engaging all things holy and they would be able to do so without being threatened by the presence of those who were in any way “different”. I believe it is our duty to honor God…honoring God’s creation is part of that.