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

523 thoughts on “Breaking up with Organised Religion 

  1. I remember feeling very connected to God as a small child but then feeling the grandness of that being completely crushed and distorted when I started going to church. It didn’t seem to make sense anymore and for a long time thereafter even after I stopped going to church I felt rudderless. Finding true religion in The Way of The Livingness was a true homecoming to what I had known as a child, that God was within me as he was in everyone else.

  2. “Weekly church, regular confession, fasting at lent, praying for forgiveness and generally trying to be a good person” that was my version of religion as well, its amazing how different that is from what I understand true religion to be today, how complicated it was and yet how incredible true religion actually is. Beautifully inspiring to see how breaking up with organised religion allows the freedom for true connection and true religion – the thing we all know has been missing in our lives.

  3. It has been my experience that there is a lot of ‘blind’ adherence to religious teachings and organisations. Surely we are not here to blindly follow rules and dogma that do not make sense. We are gifted with sensitivity and wisdom that allows us to discern what does and does not feel true. Are we to ignore our sensitivity to become blind in our following or to question, to uncover, to explore until our innate knowing reveals what is indeed the truth?

  4. “GOD = THE ALL” How can he not really. We live in an enormous Universe created by an immensely wise, all knowing intelligence that is way beyond our current, narrow comprehension and we have the audacity to think that he can only be found in a Church, or accessed via a set of religious doctrines. I can only Imagine how strange and funny this must seem to God, as he accompanies us every where we go, believers and non believers alike, an internal flame that burns brightly within us all 24/7/365!

  5. Powerful are those moments in life when such clarity dawns… and we know without a skerrick of doubt that we can no longer accept an abuse (or indeed many abuses) that we have allowed in any relationship.
    Great to read of your realisation here Sharon, and the integrity within you that came to the point of being willing to see the truth, and not compromise upon it one iota.

  6. I used to think that others could have a relationship with God but not me, I now realise that I allowed those thoughts in as I was not aligned to the true source: God and the Hierarchy. Once I aligned I knew I am an equal Son of God and that I am always having a relationship with God given we all sparks of God.

  7. it is interesting to observe how much we will allow a lie to continue because of our investment in that institution and what it brings for us, and then we must dull our awareness to not feel then tension that arises in accepting and allowing the untruths. This goes for everything in life not just religion.. so the more honesty we can bring to our own investments, attachments and desires and what they bring to us, the more clearly we will be able to discern the deceptive hand that offers us those false allures.

  8. It is incredible to consider how many of us go along with rules and dogma and all manner of beliefs outside of ourselves in the guise of Religion when True Religion is anything but and is simply the livingness of Love – Love that leaves no one less, is equal, all- knowing and is and was within us all to begin with.

  9. Sharon I have read your blog several times now and was struck by your statement “I discovered that the love of God was already within me “. What it brought home is that it is ‘the love of God’ we connect with, and this allows us to know what is true and what is not. If true, it will resonate with this love within, and if not, then it will be in discordance with it. In registering that what you heard was not true for you, you were already registering the discord. This is the way to navigate life’s intricacies with greater confidence, and to know what is true and what is not.

  10. ‘Praying for forgiveness’ implies the belief that we have ‘sinned’ which sets us up to feel that we are not good enough and that someone else is judging us. ‘Confession’ is based on an assumption that we have done wrong but even if we confess and our ‘sins are absolved’ we often go off and do it all again without taking any responsibility for what we have done. So the process of confessing just alleviates our conscience but does not change our behaviour.

  11. “Weekly church, regular confession, fasting at lent, praying for forgiveness and generally trying to be a good person’ and yet all this does not prevent people abusing other people, as evidenced by the conduct of the Catholic clergy. True religion is the perpetual art and science of connecting with God within, which can be done while putting the rubbish out, shopping, going to work or snuggling up with your loved one, an choice that nurtures our integrity, transparency and appreciation. It doesn’t make us ‘good’ but it does make us true, real, honest and very trustworthy.

  12. Thanks for sharing Sharon. Your commitment and loyalty was to the truth even though for many years it appeared to be to the church.

  13. Sharon, I like your description of The Way of The Livingness as ‘a True Religion … – that mirrors how I feel inside, with no promises or dodgy aspects, but an invitation to unfold myself from within.’ We need no priests to interpret God for us as we can all feel our connection to God and truth once we reconnect to ourselves and then, as you say, if we confirm it by the way we live we reflect our love of God to others without any preaching or imposing.

  14. The Truth of Religion – what it truly means to be religious… so simple and yet so profound.

  15. I keep coming back to read this blog, so eloquently written… it is so inspiring to feel the self-empowerment of someone who has followed their own truth and the magic that follows.

    1. So true Ariana, the two are almost synonymous, as is healing. We have lost the truth in meaning of all three, and the fact they are intrinsically linked.

  16. We love being together and we love surrendering and share (the wonders of) God, yet these days it’s hard to communicate the love of others and the love for God. There’s so much bastardised that we lost connection and trust in love, each other and God. Yet, this is the essence that actually binds us; that makes this life worth living. This is in fact true religion, but isn’t organised with a set of rules – it’s ‘just’ a humble sharing of the richness and stupendousness God and life is.

  17. Spot on that The Way of The Livingness has no promises. It is not a given by any means, but constantly offers the opportunity for evolution.

  18. Thank you Sharon for this sharing and how your relationship with religion has changed to offer a deep level of support. I am so amazed that the church openly shared that pedophilia should be reported to them only- wow it shows the state of the world we are in and how it is up to us to stand for truth.

  19. How shocking and irresponsible this is, that a man ‘of the cloth’ and also as a representative of the law, is actively encouraging paedophilia to remain hidden in this way, by the words in his sermon to a congregation.
    “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.

    1. So true Stephanie for those who enable the abuse of others also allows the vile behaviour to continue its destructive cycle.

  20. Going for a walk on Good Friday morning my neighbour asked if I was going to church and she urged me to go even if my husband wasn’t going. My reply was that I really didn’t need to go to church as I saw God in everything around me – the stillness in the morning, playing with my dog, the sun rising, getting to talk to her. These were all opportunities for me to connect and understand what my role was in any given moment. She was a little surprised by my response but loved it. My relationship with God is so much bigger than what happens in a church.

  21. As has been shared above, one can have a strong relationship with god without following a specific religion.

  22. Sharon, It is sickening to read about your clergyman suggesting not reporting child abuse and keeping it within the confines of the church. This frame of thinking is ‘old era’ and the cause of much of the mess we are in. All needs to be reported for the healing of all and real changes to ever take place. Everyone has a voice and it is Universal Medicine students who are claiming their voice back for the love and truth of all as inspired by Serge Benhayon.

  23. It’s amazing how much the idea of God and living religiously has become entangled with organised religion – but does it need to be? I have found it’s possible to have a relationship with God, as far out and seemingly intangible as that might seem to some, in a very practical, personal and religious way that is not enshrined in a doctrine, building or practice, but is in the way that I live.

  24. To know the deep inner knowing I felt when being introduced to my Church as a child, and to register that what I was being shown and told, was not Truth as it did not correlate with what I felt inside, was something that stayed with me, though buried somewhat along the years. I didn’t re-explore this until 40 or so years later when I chose to reconnect to this truth after hearing Serge Benhayon present on the true nature of us all – gentleness was the way in, the starting point. From that point I was able to start making self-loving choices and learning to live in a way that confirmed the truth of our inner-most nature. Sharon I love how you talk about sharing this love/truth, “– not by preaching or knocking on doors, but by being myself.” So simple.

  25. Your choice to stand up against the atrocities and abuse of the organised religion you speak of here, is a sorely needed reflection for your fellow brothers.

  26. Yes, Sharon. Silent neglect is something we are all guilty of when we do not call out evil, but in a place that claims to be the house of God, it is heinous exploitation.

  27. Just in the very first line of this blog there is such a strong indication of the evil illusions of the catholic religion – “praying for forgiveness”. Two basic falsehoods. God never judges, therefore there is no cause to ask for forgiveness. Seeking forgiveness is a 100% absolving of one’s own responsibility. It’s not about asking for forgiveness, it’s not about saying sorry, it’s about taking responsibility to accept the mistakes we have made, having the transparency and honesty to examine the root cause of them and then choosing to move and express in a different way. All of which is up to us and has no relevance to anyone else (least of all God) granting us forgiveness. This seemingly minor seed of separation, is a gross illusion that keeps man from living their truth, and thus needing the catholic faith as some kind of crutch and/or escape route.

  28. ‘GOD = RELIGION AND CHURCH’. This is how it is presented, and this is how I viewed God to an extent. I was taught that it was my duty to go to church and pay my dues, so it was a always a relief when mass was over and we could all go home to our Sunday lunch and forget about the burden and boredom of church for another week! Learning that I always knew God and in ways that felt very normal and natural had to be re-discovered. Thankfully through Universal Medicine I realise that I was more connected to God that I had thought and that God isn’t this judgemental heavy force that you need to appease, simply a fathomless and exquisitely beautiful beholding power that emanates stillness, love, harmony, joy and truth. Connecting to this isn’t a big deal however as I am of this and am therefore this myself! There simply needs to be a claiming of this and a living of it…

  29. A lot of organised religions ask us to become something we’re not and change in order to fit the prerequisites to achieve something e.g. forgiveness, access to heaven etc., so it’s not to say that these religions are ‘evil’ or bad but it’s SO important to look at the whole picture and decide if we entirely trust the organisation before signing a contract and changing ourselves completely.

  30. One thing you share here is how “I have always known there was God and I was taught throughout my childhood that God equated to religion and church.” like you I always felt and knew there was a God however I never understood the church – yet I was told God is found only in the and through the church. The re-connect and discover the truth about God, to have that feeling I felt as a child confirmed is deeply liberating.

  31. By re-connecting to God, It is fascinating now talking to the people that knock on my door and try to preach to me. There have been two types so far, the ones that are open and the others that God is in a box they own, or a row ploughed in a field that is unwavering.

  32. To be religious is actually our natural way of being and in that we do not need any institution or building to confirm and coordinate this. In fact it is a livingness that comes from within, as we are all connected to that grander whole we call God and religion is in fact about our connection with that inner most, that divine part in us we originate from.

    1. The scriptures themselves have such phrases as “the kingdom of God is within you” all over the place. Baffling how we ended up with that translated into building massive buildings and organised religions that dictate how we need to relate to God.

  33. Breaking up with old beliefs and ways of living is actually easy and simple once we know the whole Truth and are willing to make a stand for it.

  34. When ever I think of organised religion, I can’t help but feel the suppression of one’s inner most being that it entails. It is a complete set up to supress, control and allude one away from the complete glory they are. It comes with separation, suppression and control. It lacks truth, love and the honouring of the essence we all come from. It’s a break up that holds no regret when the true religion is found.

    1. Well said, my experience of organised religion is the complete lack of equality. The words may be touted yet the steps are not walked. It is the game of ‘better than’ ‘less than’, a set up neither of which is in respect of the truth we are.

  35. It’s actually shocking to hear that your clergy said to not report pedophilia to the police. This is corruption at its core. It’s like asking a criminal to investigate their own crime. The challenge with this as a church goer is that it breaks the trust that is held as we see those who are not walking their talk as they see themselves higher than the law of the land. It’s actually disgusting.

  36. Organised religion has given us a purpose outside of ourselves as well as a sense of belonging and with this recognition and attention. But do these practices truly support us. To be grand, to live with our Soul, to love ourselves, to be non-comparing? Do we really feel inside our body what is shared in books, sermons, at dinner tables? Why did we give up on our own truth, our own voice to feel for ourselves what is true and what isn’t. We know! The Way of The Livingness doesn’t tell us how to live, it shares a one purpose and that is a way of living that supports our own well-being and is knowing of our ‘journey’ back to the place where we once separated from – Heaven.

  37. One of the things here that strikes me is transparency – and the willingness to be absolutely open with nothing to hide. When you read this blog and see the Catholic Church’s response to the need for honesty, integrity and transparency it makes you wonder what else is hidden, or kept from the transparency needed. How can a religion be true if it is deceitful, lying, underhand, and not open? Im pretty sure God doesn’t tell lies…

    1. Yet there are circumstances where we turn a blind eye, or allow a lie to be ignored. If something isn’t true then the whole foundation is tainted, as everything is part of everything. Nothing exists in isolation and this truth is universal no matter how intent we are to ignore this.

    2. A great point… if an organisation, individual or institution is less than transparent and seeks to cover-up, deceive or mislead then there are clear indications that things are not as they seem and the very foundation upon which they stand is rotten and corrupt at best.

    3. I am pretty sure too Jane, that God is not lying but instead is super transparent in the way he communicates his love and only truth, which I have to admit, is not always that easy to accept, as I’m also coming from that bastardized and manipulated truth (read lies) that have been fed to me for a great part of my life by the organized religions.

    4. Beautiful thread to your conclusion here Jane. I’m sure God cannot tell lies, as God is Truth.

    5. Jane such a stunning point and what a fantastic yard stick transparency is for truth. If someone is not willing to fling their doors wide open and put up a sign that says ‘access all areas’ then that’s a sure sign that they have something to hide. And if either a person or an organisation has something to hide then that naturally leads to the question ‘ what are they hiding?’.

  38. Sometimes when something has elements of truth in it we can accept it or enjoin with it but not discern the entirety of the package we are receiving so to speak… But if the whole thing isn’t truth then the parts we like are tainted with the ill energy of the more hidden (or perhaps not so hidden) erroneous ways.

    1. That is true, when we are compromising we don’t quite know what the whole deal is, what else do we accept? This is normal when we don’t know any better but if we ever experience truth or love without compromise, then it makes a lot less sense to compromise afterwards.

    2. Yes, Fiona, in a way it is a blessing that the ill energy was exposed in such an explicit way, but it is also a great lesson for us all about discernment.

  39. I wish more people would just walk away from organisations that have cover ups and skeletons in the closet instead of the pretence that all is well and good.

    1. Absolutely. But to support ourselves in doing this we also have to walk away from the cover-ups and skeletons in our own lives. For, in truth, our lies enable theirs.

      1. Very true – any lie enables another lie as to does the living of Love inspire us to each return to a known true way.

      2. And this is the root of responsibility. The ripples that expand out from any movements or expressions that we make. Thus we heal the world not by running around trying to ‘do good’ or make things better, but by committing to living our own truth. That is the biggest gift that we can give to humanity.

    2. Change is up to us – we can continue, bury our heads, deny what we feel, convince ourselves it is okay – or we can talk about it, express what we feel, or walk away. In the end it is up to us. Whilst we continue to collude with what is going on, we will get the same as we always did.

  40. Aaah religion, that old chestnut. As a kid who went to religious schools, I gave away my sense of awesomeness and replaced it with guilt and not-good-enoughness based on what I was learning about religion. Perhaps that was self imposed to some degree, but today I am a liberated man in that sense, choosing no external dogmas to stop me from feeling that sense of awesomeness.

  41. A painless break-up because you knew the truth and voted with your feet… Unbelievable to tell a congregation to keep this serious matter ‘in-house’… The whole congregation should have got up right there and then and make a mass exit..

  42. Im realising how much religious beliefs have under pinned many of our behaviours and ‘norms’ in society and how these are keeping humanity in a certain way which is not evolving.

  43. ‘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.’ – Our bodies speak loud and clear if we care to listen, and it feels like your ability to break with this religion was that you trusted what you felt in your body over the dogmas that had been given to you.

  44. I can see why you didn’t feel right supporting this organisation that was trying to hide and cover up the utter abuse it has allowed within its walls.

  45. We need to subtract the factor church from the concocted equation GOD = RELIGION AND CHURCH. It is by people putting themselves and or a dogma into the equation, ie making themselves a variable or intermediary that the true meaning of religion gets lost.

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