To the religious fundamentalists in Trinidad and Tobago, who are trying to push absolutism and dominionism; you are on the wrong side of history. In fact, the more you push in that direction, the more momentum you provide for the mass exodus from religion as you put your doctrines, texts and institutions under a harsher spotlight of scrutiny, which it cannot endure without attrition.
Millennials are leaving organised religion behind in greater numbers and at greater rates than any generation before them. No tyrannical communist regime forced them to do this. They are doing it in an age of freedom of information and global conversation and debate. They are doing it in age where religion is reasserting itself to an aggressive degree. In fact, they are doing it even in parts of the world where they can get killed for questioning and/or abandoning religion. The more fundamentalist the religion becomes, the faster the exodus of educated/empathetic people, mentally and emotionally, even if not physically. Many of those sitting in church, temple or mosque with you are secretly skeptical of it all and are just going through the motions for family/community acceptance.
It is important to note that the departure from organised religion is not necessarily a departure from belief in a Higher Power/Consciousness or personal practice of spirituality or the universally ethical/empathetic tenants taught by the religion. Those leaving the religion aren’t doing so in order to go raping, murdering and pillaging. They are in fact, more law-abiding and socially conscious than many of the openly pious. Here is some of what the research from the Pew Research Centre shows:
1. Places of worship are not really important to the emerging generation.
I would venture to say that what is replacing places of worship are states of worship. Moments of peace, personal ritual, inner reflection, a feeling of oneness with the Universe and all living things. Moments of joy, human connection, comfort and deepest gratitude. Moments of wonder and stillness. Moments of creativity. The younger generation are realizing they don’t need to go to any building and/or even pay money to experience any of this. Meditation and prayer can do it. Looking up at the starry sky can do it. Vibsing with some friends to some conscious music can do it. Confessing and being genuinely, empathetically listened to by a mentor and confidante who helps boost your own inner resilience can do it. Sleeping and dreaming can do it. Making music and motion can do it. Nature can do it. Everywhere and anywhere can be church or temple.
2. They do not believe or buy into scriptural infallibility and literalism.
I think more people are heeding the cautionary lyrics, “Ever since the dawn of the story, is he who does write dung de story, does turn round and call it history oi!”– the words of 3Canal. So they take ancient writings with more than a pinch of salt and also understand that words are only beneficial to our fullest experience of freedom, peace and prosperity if the minds and hearts wielding them are both parts sharp and loving. So when they hear verses being selected and extrapolated to justify bigotry or barbarism or bullshit, a giant red flag goes up.
3. They do not believe religious doctrines, traditions or holy books but evidence, empathy and common sense should dictate decision/policy making.
This is what stems from religions’ history of using writings and traditions to justify the absurd and the atrocious. This is what stems from failed faith healings and disastrous public and foreign policies based on religion.
4. They do not see religious devotion, as important.
They see compassion as important. They see creativity as important. They see community as important. They see conservation of our environment as important. They see liberty and justice for all as important. They see prosperity, peace and security for all as important. Religion is only as important as it enables these superior priorities.
Save for a few progressive, genuinely altruistic exceptions, religion has proven itself largely inept to solve, at a systemic level, the real issues that people are preoccupied with at the moment; technological advancement creating new paradigms, economic collapse/change, environmental issues and inequality and injustice in society.
Religion is not offering solutions to these problems but at best, comfort and distraction for those suffering from them. At worst, religion is working hand in hand with politicians who enable the corporate elite to loot, pillage, pollute and persecute the lower or fringe castes of society, e.g. The Bible, Beef and Bullet lobby in Brazil or Right Wing Christians in the USA enabling genocide in Israel or the Islamic Extremism in the Middle East and South East Asia leading to violations of human rights.
Meanwhile, evidence-based, secular and creative leadership, volunteerism, entrepreneurship and innovation are solving the problems at a systematic level.
Iceland solved its youth delinquency problem and is also the best country in the world for women to enjoy equality and safety.
Kenya lowered it’s rates of violence against women/girls.
Finland achieved environmental sustainability.
Germany is leading the world in environmentally sustainable waste disposal.
China wiped out urban poverty and is taking steps to do the same for rural poverty.
The blind are seeing, the deaf are hearing, functional limbs are being printed, healthy meatless protein will soon be sustainably mass produced and even death is being tackled with less fear and loathing. The villains of history who were lauded as heroes are finally being exposed and removed from their pedestals. Longstanding injustices are finally being discussed.
Before you accuse me of being some kind of militant atheist, I’m quite the opposite. It’s just that I have no egocentric and ethnocentric need for everyone to follow my spiritual path. So narrow and unique is the path before me that only I can walk it. Me and me alone! I can never be fully satisfied being a robotic part of some broad over-populated, aggressively, virally proselytizing borg.
Many people are waking up and realizing the same thing. The trajectory of their spiritual path is carved out by the momentum of their own life experiences, thoughts, emotions and actions. There can be no other like it! Just like no two DNA are truly identical, not even those of identical twins. I call it Spiritual Epigenetics ™.
Sure, we might share some similar scenery on our respective paths. We might join in communal efforts for charitable, environmental or human rights causes. We might unite and celebrate or commemorate cultural events that bring us all joy, creativity and a sense of community. But your path is still different to mine and distinctly your own. Why must we have any desire for others to be identical to us in how they think about, project into, imagine or perceive the unfathomable aspects of the universe? Why desire for others to be identical in how they relate to or personify the unseen forces that govern their lives? Think about it for a moment.
We don’t even perceive, feel and relate to other people we can see, touch, feel, in an identical way! Not even fans of the same pop idol have identical perceptions of them. Now take that and extend it to purely philosophical and conceptual projections of Higher Consciousness. Yet there are people going, “Waaaaa how dare you imagine the infinite universe differently to me! How dare your perceptions be uniquely yours! Waaaaaa! No fair!” What a frustratingly self-defeatist, egocentric/ethnocentric expectation upon which to hinge your happiness or use as the criteria by which you will treat others with basic human decency! We need to grow up from this need to be validated at the expense of another’s freedom of thought! We should always ask, “Who benefits if we are all a borg of robots all living identically and believing identically?”
We don’t need to be homogenous in every single respect in order to create a society where the vast majority (there will always be the odd asshole) treats each other according to the Universal Golden Rule found in almost every age and culture. We simply have to have a foundational commitment to honoring the Universal Human Rights of all, even those with whom we disagree.