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. 

GOD = 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.

GOD = THE ALL

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

523 thoughts on “Breaking up with Organised Religion 

  1. My break up from organized religion has been messy as I wasn’t aware of how active it was deep within my body. As I become more honest with myself I find pockets of old religious ideals and beliefs that have coloured my perception of me and my place in the World. This left over energy is very manipulative, arrogant and dishonest and as I have put my need of a relationship before anything else that energy has played with me time and time again. I have finally seen/realised what is actually occurring and can bring understanding the more understanding I bring to my body the more settled I feel.

  2. There is an assumption that Religion and God are inextricably linked, but many people have a sense of God without belonging to a religion. Our experience with God is a very individual thing, because it is something we feel inside our own bodies, and yet, in our true connection with God we are all inextricably linked with each other.

  3. I feel you have captured the dilemma at the heart of nearly all religions in your title by referring to them as ‘organised religion’. True religion has nothing to do with being organised and told what to do and think it is based on personal responsibility to re-connect to the divinity within ourselves and live that to the best of our ability with no judgement of ourselves and others of where we are at with this.

  4. Yes, after years of searching for truth in organised religion and the spiritual new age, Universal Medicine too finally helped me discover “that the love of God was already within me”. This is the ‘homecoming’ that everyone longs for because it is something they have experienced and known before.

  5. “the systematic abuse of children, fostered through a stance of silent neglect that left many, many lives broken”, a very powerful statement Sharon, and a state of affairs that needs calling. It’s absolutely clear how your care for people was at the root of your sudden and unexpected break-up with the religion you’d known to that point.

  6. Praying to God to make life better is very different to knowing we are part of the body of God and choosing to live from that connection. From my own experience the first is from separation to God.

  7. When a representative of any organisation encourages that child abuse should not be dealt with according to the laws in place to do so, in full knowledge of the harm in doing so, then something is very wrong. When this person professes to be a representative of God and is supported in what they are doing by the organisation of which they are part it is exposed in its entirety for the evil it brings.

  8. Sharon, I like how you share so clearly that all we need is inside of us, and when we meet on the outside that which mirrors the love and how we feel on the inside, we know we have found our true living way… so very true.

  9. The comfort and the “community” of organised religion is certainly something that for many is a great appeal, but with that “community”, from everyone I’ve spoken to and my experience, there was always the ups and downs, the things that didn’t feel true and the result was a going along with something as there was nothing better. Today understanding what true religion is puts a completely different perspective on my life and my relationship with religion.

  10. “Living in this way – that is, re-connected to the love within me – has completely changed my life.” The hallmark of True religion, a way of living that restores to us our ability to connect to and express our inherent love in all we do throughout our day. Our ‘Church’ is the one we wake up in, the one we work in, the one we return to at the end of the day, the one in which all we do is undertaken in joyful worship and celebration of the Love of God within ourselves and within one another; a consistent and integral adherence to honesty, respect, compassion and truth.

  11. How telling is it that traditional religions built their churches out of stone – to keep their beliefs contained? And, inscribed their beliefs at a time when they were the few that could read?

  12. ‘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;’ …. unfortunately, as you discovered, Sharon, just because we belong to an organised religion, does not mean we are on the same page. Things can be presented as being a certain way, yet underneath, the truth may be a completely different story. A priest may deliver the sermon on Sunday, but that does not mean he lives it for himself behind closed doors. Yet, in truth, we are all already on the same page and we can feel this for our selves when we live from our essence.

  13. ‘The break-up wasn’t long and drawn out; in fact it was short, fast and relatively painless for me.’ Amazing once we see the Truth, it is easy to let things go..

  14. This is the difference between organised religion … “My sense of God and religion was always approached as something outside of myself …” and True religion … “that the love of God was already within me …” and all one has to do is simply connect and live that!

  15. When we disconnect from our inner knowing, from our connection with the ALL that’s when we need to rely on rules and regulations. In everyday life we see the most well-intentioned rules not fitting a situation and end up being unjust because they cannot respond to each unique situation without adjustment. I’m discovering areas I have lived according to certain beliefs and realising I have followed them as if they were rules. Questioning them and reconnecting with the truth of a situation is me opening up to feeling what’s needed and responding.

  16. For eons we’ve tried to organise religion in a way that people are told what to do, what to attend, how to live etc. But when we look at the world, it doesn’t and hasn’t worked, ever. Thank God for Serge Benhayon who re-introduced the one and only true way of a religious life. To deeply honour and care for ourselves, heal our hurts and be there for this deep connection for everyone else.

  17. If something is not working then we either fix it or get rid of it all together. When a representative of a religion asks its members to hide child abuse or abuse of any kind then this is clear evidence that something is severely broken beyond repair.

  18. I broke up from many organised religions in my life, and each time I aligned a new one, to think this one was it and then getting disappointed about the non-truths I discovered and the fact that nothing really changed in my life.

  19. The moment we start to choose protection over transparency, we have cemented ourselves further into the darkness, robbing ourselves of the opportunity for clarity, awareness and true freedom.

  20. The Way of the Livingness for me means equality for everyone, this is inclusive of everyone with no separation for deeds done.

  21. “…to keep it in the confines of the church for the church to manage…” – true religion could never do this as it opposes its very essence. So what kind of religion produces a clergy like this? It is not just some black sheep who misuse their position of power, it is a consciousness that has a big part in bringing forth such thinking and behaviour.

  22. A lot of unjust has been done ‘in the name of God’ – no wonder this brings up trust issues, we have fallen for the belief that God ‘concurs’ with the abusive behaviours played out by several different religions.

  23. I watched a video recently about people who had felt their faith or the faith of their families, and the breaking apart of their lives and relaitonships that they found ensued, where those around them could not accept their decision no longer to either belive in that particualr religion or religion al together. It can be so easy to become disenchanted with religion, and yet what i have found through The Way of The Livingness is that religion resides within, and inner connection without the need for anything outside to provide that.

  24. “…no dodgy aspects” I completely agree Sharon.
    I have felt fully confirmed by what The Way of the Livingness is and so I have finally given myself permission to trust, claim and LIVE what I know True Religion to be.

    I have always felt true religion had to be based on absolute eaqualness and love for all and so none of the many religions I visited including Buddhism and spirituality made sense to what I knew inside.

    1. Michael what a fabulous insight and one that highlights that we are each already in unity with God until we engage in separation and indeed ironically traditional religion is one form of separation.

  25. Beautifully expressed Sharon, religion is us living the divine connection from within us, no outside authorities needed.

  26. ‘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.’ When I was younger I remember asking all the close adults around me why they attended church, much like you it was because they enjoyed a sense of belonging. It is natural for people to want to feel part of community etc, but as you have shared it is very wise to ensure that the foundations we come together on are solid and supportive of everyone, without dodgy pockets as you have put.

  27. The position not to report pedophilia is actually fairly recent – starting in the years before and after 1900 – presumably before that the concept of report church-based pedophilia may not even have existed.

  28. I love this presentation on what True religion is. It never made sense to me why being being able to claim oneself as this or that religion meant you had to go to a special building that nearly always felt cold and damp. To me claiming something meant any time not just a Sunday. Thus in my younger days I turned my back on God all together. It was after meeting Serge Benhayon and when I reconnected very simply to what I already knew was true that I could embrace religion in my life again – truly.

  29. It is beautiful that when we let go of something we held dearly because we realised it was not true, there is always the next thing ready that is even more beautiful and there to support us in our return to who we naturally are.

  30. What I love about this story, Sharon, is how you talk about that constant inner knowing and connection to God, which is now fully claimed and celebrated in your life as you embrace what is true religion.

  31. God = Religion and Church is one equation that I cannot buy. I always knew there was a God but equally I always could feel an absence of what I knew God to be whenever I looked at religion or was in a church. An equation that feels better to me is God = Love and truth. Religious authorities and churches feel a million miles away from this God.

  32. Such is the move away from true religion that we grow up to think without attending church we cannot consider our selves religious. Being religious is a way of being, not the action of going to church or doing the rituals and ceremonies associated with that Church, it is a way that I knew as a child but did not make sense or feel true in the clergy that I came into contact with.

  33. This is astonishing, that a person actually stood up and told the congregation to be silent about abuse, standing up and speaking in what is called a ‘house of god’. This proves to me that there is no place of brick and mortar, wood and metal that can be more powerful than the place of our inner-hearts because in there we always know the truth.

  34. I agree that our association with organised religion or any other belief, ideal or habitual practice in our lives for that matter does feel like a relationship and it is always good to assess whether the relationships are healthy ones or not.

  35. The Way of The Livingness invites us to return to who we truly are and therefore once we make the commitment to reclaim our true expression, the joy and integrity that arises from just being ourselves naturally embraces all we meet. The very idea of coercing another into having to believe in a doctrine in order to belong exposes the very apparent manipulation of our way of being that it is. When we return to ourselves, we naturally align to the harmonious order of the Universe, no doctrine required.

  36. ‘Living in this way – that is, re-connected to the love within me – has completely changed my life.’ It has completely changed my life too Sharon, I find it is far easier to observe life rather than get caught up in life and from this place of observation I can respond with less reaction and more love. I remain steadier when those around me are not and life feels a whole lot easier.

  37. ‘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.’ There is such an irony here; the organised religion that professes love for humanity but doesn’t, vs the inner knowing of truth that does. Totally cool Sharon that you listened to that inner knowing and didn’t put need ahead of truth!

    1. The Catholic Church talked the talk, but did not walk the walk, when this came to light, there was nowhere to hide. Yet, sometimes the ‘break up’ may not be as straight forward, our need to hold on to our beliefs is greater than our willingness to accept the truth and accept that we have been wrong. The problem is, when we do this, it affects everything. We can’t compartmentalise our life, we hold only truth in our inner-most and when we allow complete honesty, we feel this truth. To act on this can be challenging, I know I still hold some false ideals and beliefs around parenting, which I am working with, it feels like the struggle is about control – between myself as the individual versus accepting the whole and allowing the space for things to be as they are meant to be.

  38. Sharon across the world we are seeing the break up of organised religion, not from the outside through wars but from the inside through the exposure of all the parts that do not make sense, all the parts people are saying now this is not working and the abuse, dogma and untruths. Things that I had no idea were going on are coming into the light and it is incredible what has been hidden.

  39. Great humility is required to admit to ourselves that we have been wrong – but the rewards are even greater if it leads us to truth. I feel we have to be prepared to be humbled in life so we can clear the decks and see the way ahead. All too often we stubbornly cling and even defend what is incongruous and is not working in our lives – but eventually, it all comes tumbling down. Whilst this can feel devastating, it can also be a new beginning, one of true openness to what is clear, true and congruous. We must it seems get used to the taste of humble pie.

  40. Sharon, I always thought this growing up to, ‘I understood there was a God, this automatically meant I needed to belong to a religion’. This was what seemed to be taught and that if yiou were not part of an organised religion you basically we’re not a religious person. These teachings are so far from the truth or true religion, where we don’t need to go to church or belong to a certain religious group, never at school or growing up did I hear the truth about God and religion – that we can connect with God inside if us and need never set foot in a church, the religions of today, apart from Universal Medicine, have a lot to answer for in how they have misled people and created false religions.

  41. I too was born into a catholic family and rejected it as the way to God from about 8 onwards. I saw through the hypocrsy early on and knew that God was not to be found in those church walls. I wasn’t looking for God or any religion but when I went on a one day presentation with Serge in the UK about 15 years ago I felt something in my body that I had not felt all my life, a reminder of the stillness that lay within. The fact this is now a religion has been a process of acceptance for me and one that has bought up a lot about the word religion and how it is used by the world. God is most certainly not a dogma, or only found in places of worship, God is everywhere and in everything he pulses the universe, every breath can be aligned to that energy or not.

    1. All power to you for walking away at such an early age. That is the first and most important step back to our truths. For the hard bit is not claiming what is true…it is rejecting what is not true.

  42. I like the way that you call it a break-up. Like marriage vows, the church tries to bind us with rule, contracts, doctrines, guilt and judgement and thus in the same way that many put up with abuse in their marriages, we then put up with abuse from the church. I have read a fair bit about many of these paedophile cases and the grossest part of them all is how the perpetrators use the powers invested in them by the church to enforce their subjects to carry out the act and to then bind them into secrecy. How can this possibly be a true religion?

    1. Awesome point, Otto, that is so true – there is so much control in terms of what is expected from the Church, in order to be ‘accepted’. It feels like a burden, rather than what I now know to be true religion, thanks to The Way of The Livingness, where it is about taking responsibility, being and living the love that I am, it’s that simple.

  43. Sharon, this has brought back so many memories of the choices I used to make and that although my choice to breakup with religion never had a defining moment it certainly started the process of dying out very early in my life. I cannot remember the last moment of severing ties but do know there can be moments when its insidious rules of what ‘good’ is can still pop-up when i am least expecting it. The blanket of control that it espouses will ‘keep humanity warm’ on a cold night are narrow, judging and controlling. True religion is re-connection to our own inner heart and the guidance this offers – a truth that when others choose the same connects us in true brotherhood.

  44. I am very inspired by the conviction of your choice. There are hundreds of thousand of people sitting in congregations across the globe who know the truth about the huge levels of paedophilia occurring within the Catholic church yet do nothing about it. The responsibility that you have taken is a great lesson to us all and no coincidence that this one true choice opened the door to you finding the one true religion.

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