There are a certain few things I think that help young people get roped into Religion.
I wish I had the time to get my thoughts out clearly so I could send a out a message to young people considering embracing religion.
1. Jesus died for your sins/ You need Him for forgiveness.
This is one of the most disturbing manipulative approaches I see now, looking back. How much sin can one young person really have? And let's just say they have plenty. Perhaps they are in fact really bad people. What good does the death of one person do for another? Besides convince them that they are indebted to this person? Maybe then they feel guilty for not loving that person and giving them their everything?
I think it is more because sometimes we feel so lost. The world is so big and we are so small. How can we be lovable? What can make us stand out? Why am I important? And if there is someone who has done something wrong, perhaps thinking that a God loves them and made them can allow them to choose goodness even when it comes unnatural or they don't feel good enough.
I know this was the case for me. I didn't feel lovable. I didn't feel important. But, because I became convinced that Jesus loves me and has a special purpose for my life, I could believe in myself as well.
I wish I could have just figured out at that point that I cold love me and believe in me, regardless of if others did or not. Too bad we have the need for the approval of others hardwired into our genetic code.
2. Just because others believe in something does not make it real.
I became convinced as a teenager that there must be a God because everyone I knew thought there was. There were churches everywhere. I learned of Buddists, Hindus, Muslims, Catholic, Protestants. I figured... well, I guess something must be real. I went in search of what made the most sense to me. Catholicism came knocking with it history and tradition and Apostolic Succession. I bought it. I didn't realize that numbers of people believing something doesn't necessarily make it true.
For something to be true it takes evidence. There has to be REASONS for belief, besides just wanting it to be so.
3. Believing something, and loving someone does not give proof that that person is real.
Example: Luke Skywalker, boy bands, Jesus, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny. Most of us have loved ideas of these things. We've probably even gotten pretty emotional over these "people" but that in no way makes there a real relationship or even a real person.
4. Good and Bad decisions, verses holiness and evil
One thing that I know is very convincing of a God or at least a need for a God is morality and the goodness of people. A lot of times people see believing in God as choosing to live a good life and not believing in God as deciding anything goes and that there is no moral compass. It is true that for me, belief in God gave me direction in regards to living out morality, but now I see that I could have gotten this without the religious aspect. My problem was that I just did not have enough people guiding my moral choices or giving me good advice. So, I made bad decisions. I felt hurt by those decisions. When I found God, I started making good decisions and was often made happier by those good decisions. But, couldn't I have made good decisions without the supernatural aspect? Yes. We can. In fact, I now see that following religious beliefs too much can lead to a very unhappy life and very bad choices at times. The point is that we need to seek good choices and moral decisions, not a fairy tale.
Perhaps I will continue more another day...
This is the start of some points for a future book, or at least letter to young people.