Breaking up with Organised Religion 

Weekly church, regular confession, fasting at lent, praying for forgiveness and generally trying to be a good person dominated my religious life from when I was old enough to understand it until organised religion and I broke up when I was 35. The break-up wasn’t long and drawn out; in fact it was short, fast and relatively painless for me.

If you had asked me when I was in the thick of my regular organised religious practices if I would let it go, I wouldn’t have believed you, as I have always known there was God and I was taught throughout my childhood that God equated to religion and church. 


It just seemed normal to me that, if I understood there was a God, this automatically meant I needed to belong to a religion as it gave me a sense of a belonging to something where everyone was on the same page; and without attending church, I could not consider myself religious. Interestingly during this period, I often felt not good enough, seeking God’s forgiveness or praying to him to make life better. My sense of God and religion was always approached as something outside of myself that I needed to have in order to be considered a good person, and to confirm to others that I cared about people and life, so although I didn’t agree with every aspect of it, religion was something I felt I needed.

As it turned out, it was my care for people that was at the root of my sudden and unexpected break-up with religion as I’d known it to be. In the early nineties, the media was reporting on the religious clergy who had been involved with the church’s long history of paedophilia and how chosen and trusted religious leaders had covered it up. This shocked me to the core but at the same time, I was willing to be open to hearing what the head of my church had to say about it, hoping they would admit their error or show that the media was engaging in the usual sensationalism.

The final straw came while attending my usual weekly church service. I heard a sermon from my clergy, who was also a solicitor, stating the importance of people who may have experienced paedophilia, to not go to the police, but to keep it in the confines of the church for the church to manage. This was the very position that the media were reporting had resulted in such wide scale, epidemic abuse of children across generations and classes.

From that moment, I knew I could no longer be part of something that was willing to be so dishonest as to continue to hide the truth of the systematic abuse of children, fostered through a stance of silent neglect that left many, many lives broken. So after 35 years I left the church with no regret. It did take me some time to recover from all the teachings I had so blindly aligned to, so much so I used to say I was recovering from organised religion, but I am delighted to report I have recovered and I have actually found my true religion.

From my deep, inner knowing that there was God and from what I was reminded of via the Ageless Wisdom presented by Universal Medicine, I discovered that the love of God was already within me and all I needed to do to live my true religion was to:

  • Know this deep, inner knowing as truth
  • Choose to re-connect to this truth
  • Live in a way that confirmed it – by making self-loving choices
  • Share the love I now felt from within, with everyone I connected to – not by preaching or knocking on doors, but by being myself.


Living in this way – that is, re-connected to the love within me – has completely changed my life.  And like many break-ups that happen in life, my break-up with organised religion had the best silver lining in that it allowed me space to find True Religion, – The Way of The Livingness, – that mirrors how I feel inside, with no promises or dodgy aspects, but an invitation to unfold myself from within via ritual, rhythm and people, without a church, clergy or rule book in sight.

By Sharon Gavioli, Brisbane, Registered Nurse, Adult Educator, Counsellor, Age 56

Further Reading:
What hurts – Religion Itself, or the Bastardisation of Religion? 
What is true religion?
Organised Religion versus True Religion

454 thoughts on “Breaking up with Organised Religion 

  1. “The Way of The Livingness, – that mirrors how I feel inside” is exactly how I sense my religion with God is. It is from a livingness impulsed form the inner fire that lives in my heart and when allow that fire to infuse in my body, the way i move and go along with life will change accordingly and will express at any moment that love of God we al know so well.

  2. Hearing Serge speak from the very beginning brought home to me the truth, that I knew deep down, the joy of having found it again, the dismay of realising that I knew all along but had been denying it, and the call to responsibility that I had been dancing around the edges of. Starting the journey back through all that I had created to avoid living the truth has been not easy, but absolutely worth it – the great joy of reuniting with the truth that my Soul had been offering all along and now learning to live its purpose, is beyond anything this world has to offer.

  3. Once we remember who we are and where we are from, we realise that everyone is from that same equal light, and our time here is to relearn and live that light together in brotherhood until we all remember who we are.

  4. I feel that the organised religion that has impacted and imposed on me most is not so much that going on around us, but that which I have taken on inside my body, over aeons. It is such a freeing journey to be seeing and letting go of these imprints, and coming home to true religion, re-connection to God, within my heart.

  5. A great reminder Sharon, that sometimes it takes something very extreme for us to leave the comfort of what we know. But if we stop and feel where we stand, and honour what we feel is true, what to do and how to act will actually become super clear. For with every move and thought we allow, we actively support and subscribe to a source of energy that produces the life we see. It’s this relationship with choosing truth that is the very essence of Religion to me. So ironically in your story, breaking up with the church to choose Love is an awesome and truly religious act.

  6. In what realm of life can anyone ever say we should protect a person who has committed an act as vile as pedophilia. Anyone who would preach such an approach is not someone who would receive my attention for even a moment.

  7. My perception was also that I would never be good enough to have direct access to God, Sharon, I was always going to be a sinner no matter what. This gives us a guilt to carry like a burden on our backs because of the image that there needs to be some perfection. Now I know there is divinity within me and through this I can access God whenever and wherever I am from within me.

  8. ‘Share the love I now felt from within, with everyone I connected to – not by preaching or knocking on doors, but by being myself.’ This is so beautiful Sharon, it is natural to be loving. simple.

  9. The ownership held by modern religions over our relationship with god and then the evils perpetrated in that name beggar belief. Thanks Sharon for affirming the two can be mutually exclusive and there is another way to be religious

  10. I have met many different types of devout religious individuals. Most, are driven by their beliefs like a horse pulling a cart and wearing blinders. Some are just in a groove moving on, and others try to impose their beliefs. The ones that always stand out are those who cherry pick and practice the do as I say not as I do, religious rhetoric. Once we know that God lives within us all equally, all the time, and fully embody it, anything that is not truth, is a red flag.

  11. Amazing when we honour our deep inner feelings rather than keep trying to override them with justifications…

  12. Thank you Sharon, I am starting to see there has been a religious way I’ve lived in my life that has not been the real deal at all. I’ve settled for words, actions and disciplines but fogotten the most crucial ingredient of all – Love. How can a religion based on God be mean and hard? How can it hate and judge? How can it react and denegrate? It truly makes no sense at all. No amount of rules or dogma can hide the fact the Love is the hallmark of what is great. Make your day Loving and you can’t help but keep returning to the truth, and know a religious life.

  13. To have a solicitor who is responsible for upholding justice and the law telling members of his church not to go to police if they have experience paedophilia in the past shows the lack of love and integrity that this man and his religion has for not only the congregation but humanity at large.

  14. I couldn’t wait to break up with organised religion, it was shoved down my throat from the day I was born and it never seemed to sit well with me my break up was swift too and I was in a bit of a religious wilderness until coming across The Way of The Livingness which for me felt right immediately.

  15. There is a comment you make about not preaching and banging on doors, but representing your religion in the simplest way possible, just through the medium of how you live. Its so, so simple, and if we are being ourselves, effortless and gorgeous. A true way that does not impose on others but warms them from the inside out as well!

  16. Powerful stuff Sharon! I love that you trusted yourself and walked away from something once you could confirm it no longer felt true. Your new religion feels a lot more real.

  17. Religion or being religious is not defined by such things as a name, a building or an appointed position. Hence when there is a lack of integrity there is no religion irrespective of any other factor.

  18. The heart and the body only know truth. Allowing us to feel tells the truth about everything in the world. Whether it is the truth of religion or the truth of what to eat for lunch, every honest answer is within us.

  19. For me religion was always true it was how people wanted to live made it untrue. Truely there is no path back to God ,for we are of God in our essence , the want to live from this truth allows one to be religious. I am very religious this is the way I live ” The Way of The Livingness”

  20. In this life I have never been part of an organised religion, I never felt the authenticity in them, I have been intrigued by them some times and talked to friends about it, but could not bring myself to go along with what is so blatantly hypocritical…and the I encountered The Way of The Livingness and then I saw people walking their talk and I knew I had found religion lived, a rebinding to divinity through a relationship with the body.

  21. I love what you say about ‘sharing the love with, with everyone’; this is a connection with God, not to choose to be loving or favour a few or certain people but to meet everyone equally, this is largely missed in the world today, lots talk about it, but very few live it.

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