It is such a common thing to do, it might someday become a rule of etiquette. If you lose your religion — the religion you grew up in — you must start a blog about it. If you don’t, you will be accused of bad form!
Yet, regardless of whether it ever becomes a rule that you must blog after losing your religion, some of the best written, most insightful blogs I come across started that way. And so far as I can see, they frankly outclass most — but not all — of the religious blogs. Especially if you include in the “losing your religion” category blogs written by people who swapped the religion of their childhood for unaffiliated spirituality.
Maybe the losing your religion blogs are so often powerfully written because losing your religion can be — to put it mildly — disturbing. And “disturbing” experiences have always been one of the fuels of immediate, fresh, and forceful writing.
So why are people who blog about it losing their religion? Well, from what I’ve seen, there are two primary reasons. The first gets the most attention, but — oddly enough — might be the less motivating reason. Namely, the blogger left because he or she could no longer intellectually accept as true the theology or scriptures of the religion. Typically, their doubts began to mount until one day some point in particular became the straw that broke the back of their faith.
A second reason — and it seems to me a moving one — is they discovered their religion was repressing them. That is, if you listen to the bloggers, they are often folks who discovered their religion was not helping them to be who they are, but was actually opposed to who they are.
Maybe they were a strong woman in a patriarchal faith. Maybe they were a homosexual in a homophobic faith. Maybe they were an intellectual in a mind-numbing faith. Or maybe they felt they had a spiritual side that was not only unaddressed by their faith, but actively suppressed by it. Whatever the reason, they are people who discovered their faith was detrimental to their being authentic.
Both the bloggers who left because they could no longer swallow the theology or scriptures of their faith, and the bloggers who left because they could no longer stomach the spiritual oppression of their faith, have frequently been accused by some of the faithful of being petty and malicious in denouncing their former faiths.
Yet, that strikes me as self-serving. I think it would be more accurate to say the bloggers are, in some sense, mourning their loss. If they feel anger towards their old faith, I think that’s usually part of the process of any mourning. Wasn’t it Kübler-Ross who first pointed out that we typically go through — and all but must go through — an anger phase when we mourn a loss?
Now, my survey is about as scientifically rigorous as a limp noodle, so please take my impressions for what they are — impressions. But, if my impressions have any degree of accuracy, then perhaps a significant number of people are leaving religion because they find it fundamentally opposed to them. Aimed at their heart and minds: They find in religion an aggressor.