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 breaking up with Organised religion actually it was the Catholic religion when i found out about the atrocities by the church in the dark ages, I cried that the church that I had loved could do such things, leaving was easy. It has been a winding road over the years of searching’ out there’ to find at last through the Ageless Wisdom teachings that it was ‘in here’ all the time, dwelling deep with me, the love of God that I was searching for all my life.

  2. Sharon, your journey with religion illustrates just how important it is for each one of us to follow our truth, what we know and feel to be absolute truth, and to honour that. ‘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.’ When you felt the enormity of the lie of the priest, and even though he was a lawyer, the power of your truth took over and the break-up was a no-brainer.

  3. “Interestingly during this period, I often felt not good enough, seeking God’s forgiveness or praying to him to make life better.” This is the problem with organised religion in that we are seen as ‘sinners’ in some form, so we are set-up to feel wrong, less, not good enough from the start – which is the exact opposite of the truth! We are born glorious, precious, open, full of light, love and joy… and it is the imposition of such belief systems as organised religion that we then take on to take us away from standing out in all our beauty and glory.

  4. When we approach life from the emptiness of not connecting to who we truly are then we are at the mercy of the illusion of what the world offers disguised by that which is called good or benevolent, it is only through the deep appreciation and love for self that we get to know that true religion is our own relationship with the whole universe.

  5. I like the title of this blog “breaking up with organized religion”. I was raised in the catholic religion and it was always instilled in us that the catholic religion was the only true religion and that you dare not leave it or you would go to hell. The truth of the matter is however that just like a marriage if it is not working and is in fact abusive then it is imperative that we do leave these situations. This is basic self-love and self-regard.

  6. What you have pointed out so beautifully is that there is a difference between true religion and Organised religion. And that most of the world today goes by Organised religion and yet we don’t call it this. It confirms that if someone were to ask me if I am religious – I can say yes in the true sense but I am not part of Organised religion.

  7. “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” This statement itself should have us sit up and pay attention. When what is supposedly at the heart of an institution is the exact catalyst for us leaving the institution, we know something is very wrong.

  8. Sharon, I wonder whether it is legal to entice victims of criminal acts to stop going to the police as the priest did in his sermon.

  9. Sharon, I also had a very passionate love for organised religion. It seemed to me to be the bridge between people and the divine, however what I have come to realise is that not any of the religions that I encountered really wholly and completely included the human body as part of the divine, and in fact in many instances the body was seen as a hinderance or an impediment that stood in the way with its earthly requirements, I found that all of this lead to a heady or mental approach to life that left out some pretty big basics such as the utmost necessity for a deeply sensitive self-care. Universal Medicine has turned so much around for me just by introducing the physical frame in to the divine plan, which has enabled me to begin to truly recognise the divine within myself and and all others equally.

  10. If it is our need to ‘belong to something’ that motivates us to join groups such as churches, community gatherings, families, groups of friends etc. we are doing it from a sense of being separate and wanting something to fill the emptiness we feel because of that. A true religion or family would reflect to us the love and truth we all have within so that we no longer need to look outside for fulfilment but can reconnect to our divinity, wisdom and love.

  11. Organised religion has such a heaviness to it. But true religion is actually very light, playful and is the most joyous way of living.

  12. Being a ‘good’ person tends to be hung onto as a religious tenet, but when we look at many religions around the world, we cannot say that all of their members are ‘good’ and how do you define ‘good’ anyway? Does it mean doing good works, or simply behaving in a way that does no harm to others? Certainly some of our major religions have done a great deal of harm to others with their Holy Wars. So perhaps it is not the religion at all but what is in people’s hearts that defines how they will behave.

    1. “…harm to others with their Holy Wars. So perhaps it is not the religion at all but what is in people’s hearts that defines how they will behave…” Good point Carmel,…it seems that most religions have a peaceful aspect about them, but it is the need to be right behaviour of man rather than letting people be, that seems to cause the conflict.

  13. Organised religion – one of the most abusive relationships out there… You’ll be lied to, think you’re always wrong, a sinner, fear you’ll go to hell, and that God is judging you. It’s the complete opposite of having a deep and true relationship with God and the magic that is possible within that relationship.

  14. I struggled with religion as it always felt like something was missing and what they said didn’t make sense and now I know why. Religion gave us just enough to make us feel comfortable and acknowledge that there was a God, but that we had to work hard to achieve his recognition and acceptance and there were only a chosen few that could achieve this which didn’t feel like the God I knew. So I chose to have no religion until The Way of The Livingness, a religion that is for everyone, no one is excluded, and it offers no beliefs or rules and all we have to do is connect and live by the loving principles of our inner heart.

    1. Yes, partial truths can be very difficult to deal with. One can reject it in its entirety or accept it but to discern what is true and false is difficult.

  15. True religion, religion is a lived experience, it is expressed from the body…it is very clear when the mouth and mind run the show and not the heart.

  16. The time I was in an organised religious group what I was seeking was love but what I found where restrictions and within those there was no space for true love. When I chose to leave this form of religion I still stayed in the same pattern for some time to seek love in the outside. When I learned to know Serge Benhayon I felt that true love was free of restrictions but its foundation is to take true responsibility for oneself but not, as I used to think and as I was raised,for others.

  17. I broke up with organised religion when I was twenty too Sharon, and received the silent treatment of ostracisation from many of the people close to me and had to live up to many false lies which eventually I reacted by making them all true. It was not an easy step to take, but a step that absolutely also brought me much closer to God, that today I can say without reservation that I am deeply Religious. This has been deeply healing as it brought me back to truly standing up for truth.

  18. True religion is innately in us all and is living this connection to the all. To me, this is the opposite to organised religion which seems to me gets us looking outside of ourselves and in disconnection to the all, in separation, isolation and need.

  19. Organised religion forces us to have tunnel vision to see only the way that someone outside of us, wants us to see and believe! It makes us deign the whole that has always lived within us, to believe in something that is less.

  20. What I have learned from Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon’s Presentations of The Way of The Livingness is that God is within and therefore we are never separate, we are his equal Sons. Therefore we can breakup with Religion but not God.

  21. The organisation of religion simply takes us away from true religion. If true religion is within us and we can live from true impulses and live religion, then organising it is purely going to destroy it. It is then separated from the original meaning and expression. It then becomes something else.

  22. This is a great example of how sometimes we need to walk away from something that doesn’t feel true before we discover what we truly were searching for within ourselves.

  23. I still hold onto hurts around religion – one being told what I could and could not do on a Sunday by someone, and the same person sharing that my parents would go to hell because they had not asked Jesus into their lives. Absolutely not true and very evil. It was the latter comment that made me say stuff you to the church and this person. That was the final breaking point for me.

  24. ‘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.’ This statement speaks volumes about the state organised religion is in and what it promotes.

  25. I broke up with catholicism when I was 19. There wasn’t a specific incident, but for many years I had felt the practice of this religion allowed me to live a completely guilt ridden life, being fearful of making a mistake in some way shape or form. I knew that this wasn’t healthy for me and I knew anything that supported me to sustain such a way to live wasn’t worth dedicating my time and energy to.

  26. Sharon you hit the mark with your honest words. Religion is so much more – it should be ” . . . an invitation to unfold myself from within via ritual, rhythm and people, without a church, clergy or rule book in sight.” That is exactly how The Way of The Livingness is for me.

  27. I broke up with organised religion before I broke up with my first boyfriend, which was a long time ago. Now I have a lifelong relationship with true religion, thanks to Universal Medicine. God is without exception part of my every day.

  28. Although I have not had this kind of relationship with organised religion I have with other lifestyle choices and have had the same kind of wake up call moments where I am forced to face what becomes glaringly obvious in front of me – life is like this and will always present us with moments to reflect on the consequences of our choices.

  29. Great that you recognised that in effect you can’t just have the parts of something that you like, you get all of it, and if it doesn’t feel loving well, we can live without it.

  30. Coming to know our love inside us, is making us see even more the falseness that the church portrays. We are shown a compassionate community, but in essence it is all but true human connection that is being practiced,its all a mental excercise of the truth that in essence is a knowing in the body. As we all know inside, that God is our connection to everything and each other, not the distant father that is watching over us with a judging eye.

  31. To me a true religion will always put people before anything else, express truth without hesitation, expose evil without hesitation and will always be guided by love. This is only some of the basic foundations of true religion as there is more but from reading your blog Sharon the church you used to attend lacked all these qualities, which makes me wonder how its teachings can be appealing?

  32. I read your experience of organised religion Sharon and I felt the heavy stifling clock of a system that wants to thwart us fully, suffocating us in the dark. I then read what it was like in re-discovering true religion and the joy and freedom I could feel does not stop. True religion is a freedom like no other. The exact opposite of what the harm done by institutionalised religion would have us believe.

  33. Any organisation that tries to cover up something as seriously abusive as pedophilia that can’t even abide by the laws of the land, have such disrespect for common decency and have shown that “keep it in the confines of the church for the church to manage” – means blaming the victim, and moving the perpetrator to another community. Such actions expose the rot and ungodly darkness of these institutions and that only common sense is required to know God is being misrepresented, all the good is just an elaborate illusion that God wants us to arise out of.

  34. “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.“ Beautifully expressed and so true, it mirrors the truth we are from the inside out.

  35. ‘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 …’ – it’s interesting how much we can actually ‘let go of’ when we are committed to living the truth. We start to see things for what they are, reading the energy first, they either support or they don’t and we naturally let go of what no longer belongs, clearing the way for us to allow a deeper level of love in our body.

  36. Religion cannot be compartmentalised, it is not about going to a certain church or following an edict. I live religion in all areas of my life, it is my connection to the All, and knowing that I am of God, a Son of God, that offers divinity in all I do.

    1. Beautifully said Jenny, As we are all parts of God, and live in the pool of his unconditional love, how can there ever be any compartmentalising, there is nowhere that He is not, and no parts of our lives where he is not beside us and within us all the way.

  37. Since I’ve read this I’ve been very intrigued by why the title’s captured my interest. I especially like it because it expresses that we choose what we have a relationship with and how, we are not puppets. For me it likens it to a relationship with a partner and how we can end that relationship even though we may have had strong attachments to it and there are processes involved but ultimately we are the ones who decide what we are in relationship with. That this is always our choice.

  38. “…religion was something I felt I needed.” How mixed up do we get when we are not told the whole truth about who we are and where we come from? Thank goodness that Serge Benhayon has cast a beaming light on humanity’s many illusions.

  39. Asking the congregation to keep such ugliness within the confines of the church. How shockingly self serving, and lacking in love or respect for people that request actually was. If there was true love within that institution there would be a natural desire for transparency and rooting out of such ill, not a protection and therefore condoning of it.

  40. To ask people who are member of a church to not go to the police to report a criminal activity is very wrong. And also very manipulative. As it touches peoples feeling of quilt if they want to go anyway. Because someone of the church says so and they present themselves as the presenters of God. So that means that it gives the impression that if you go to the police to report abuse you do a criminal act in the eyes of God. How far the true meaning is lost of religion and God.
    This is not what he ever mean or meant to present as true it is completely bastarized by some who like to have power over others and some who like to be controlled and give their power away. A game which harms humanity a lot as a whole.

  41. With the deepest respect for everyone’s beliefs I would venture to say that breaking up with organised religion is the best possible thing that one could do. Organised religion holds you trapped in a paradigm from where it is impossible to see the truth, which is always to be found deep inside ourselves. The problem is that organised religion if we allow it prevents us from connecting to that truth.

    1. Yes, I agree Doug, it’s like a thin veil we put over ourselves that keeps us away from ourselves and everyone else, however much it looks like we are there we are not showing up in our full glory. We are caught in a web of untruths, difficult to see this web but it’s there and it sticks.

    2. True Doug, as Sharon put it, when she “re-connected to the love within me” she discovered the re-binding (religion) to that natural essence of within us all.

  42. What do we mean by “organised religion”? Is it not the equivalent of processed food, pre-packed for mass consumption? Where are ‘religion’ is our relationship to the equalness of God and requires no processing.

    1. You have nailed the ridiculousness of even the term organised religion. Just like processed food, organised religion has all the hallmarks of man’s attempts to control things to his own gain, which ends up turning something that is pure and amazing into a fraction of its magnificence.

  43. Organised religion tells you what to do and what to not do. The exact opposite of what True Religion teaches us: to listen to our own connection with our body, our Soul and with God / the Universe. To live who we are, we are to develop a strong connection to who we are. Because as long as we don’t know we’ll be fooled and fed constantly from the outside in – instead of from the inside out.

  44. I can not think of a religion that, sharing the love within with everyone is really a practice? There are many professing ‘love thy neighbour’, but at the same time protect its own who don’t practice what they preach. What kind of message does this send!

  45. The bastardisation and hence mis-trust in organised religion runs deep in a lot of people, very understandably so.

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