Religion remains one of the most valuable aspects of people’s lives with about 84% of the world’s population identifying with a religious group. In Kenya, more than 95% of the population is aligned with a religious group. Most people continue to follow whatever religious tradition their parents followed and were raised in. Others decide to leave organized religion altogether with one group quitting altogether and the other group maintaining a spiritual practice. Here are some people’s observations of the ways leaving organized religion improved their lives. Their experiences in a way serve as an indictment of religion as well as a celebration of the ways people grow and change over time.
Kinder, better humans
There’s often this sense that religious people have a monopoly on being decent human beings. Only they can be kind, empathetic, generous, and concerned about their fellow creatures. The true irony is the huge number of people who say leaving religion made them kinder, more empathetic humans and they live this way not because of some command to do so or an attempt to collect brownie points or fear of damnation. They do it simply because they understood its value and want to.
I became kinder and more empathetic. I stopped seeing other humans as projects or missions. https://t.co/pIxoPsZ0Eb
— Teb 🦕 (@tebbymaritim) March 27, 2023
It allowed me to define my purpose in life without expecting a reward. I wake up every day and make a decision to be a human being who exists in service to other humans. Not because I'll be given some points. Purely because it's what I've selected as my life's purpose. https://t.co/aZuF3msOPK
— That Electrical Engineer (@W_Asherah) March 26, 2023
I don’t have to collect kindness and generosity points for an entry ticket to heaven.
I do it freely because I want to and because I can afford to sometimes. https://t.co/GBVzo0OxX4
— Danilla (@QueenOfKiboha) March 25, 2023
I was able to say, "God will do what God does, that is their business, but me I will do what I feel is true, kind and just to other human beings." I stopped doing things so as to avoid hell and started doing things so be, above all else, fair to other human beings. https://t.co/vwZkGcSSSc
— Makena Onjerika (@Onjerika) March 25, 2023
1. I became kinder and more tolerant
2. Gained a respect for the people that came before me and their cultural practices
— x-chromosome connoisseur ⁷ (@Catyalater) March 24, 2023
It's very liberating to live life by my own values and do the right thing because it's right rather than to please people or out of fear. Plus you get to see right through a lot of BS that people try to sanitize using religion https://t.co/Ha0gwGH0WK
— Austin Roy is waiting to take over Waystar (@AustinRoy007) March 24, 2023
The irony is I became more loving & accepting of others.
I see myself and others as human, imperfectly beautiful.
I’m enjoying life, having fun, catching cruise, trying out new experiences.
Internalized shame, guilt and self hatred are now things of the past. https://t.co/MZtKmZApF0
— Bella the Storyteller (@1st_Storyteller) March 23, 2023
Sex in most religious traditions is loaded with shame and guilt. One of the ways leaving organized religion improves people’s lives is by lifting all that guilt and shame and freeing people to wholly enjoy sexual experiences, taking pride in said pleasure.
I enjoy being a sexual being without guilt.
I am kind because it's who I am and not because there's a threat of damation.
I don't feel obligated to forgive those who hurt me.
I can chase my dreams whatever they are without conforming to the church and its expectations of me. https://t.co/bLAFz0PICJ
— Sirén Sorcéress (@Rwa_firestar) March 25, 2023
I have my Sundays back. I am not a ball of guilt/shame over my 'sins'. I have handed back the belief that I am nothing/unworthy without God. I enjoy more diverse music. I enjoy sex and intimacy so much more. I get to be a human being just doing human being things. https://t.co/0cbCsmZxkn
— miondoko na machozi (@olive_muchoki) March 24, 2023
I feel no shame around masturbation and sex. https://t.co/8MqLauvRyS
— Nsukka cherub (@nonifauna) March 23, 2023
3. orgasms have become epic without religious guilt. I surrender to sexual pleasure without shame or hesitation. And Sundays are spent in sinful late morning pleasure instead of availing myself to be judged in church by nincompoops who can't think beyond jewish storytelling https://t.co/SrJpqPEEur
— daktari Linnie🇸🇪🇰🇪 (@ElenaKajugu) March 23, 2023
Improved spiritual life
One ironic effect of leaving organized religion for people who maintain a spiritual outlook is the improvement of their relationship with God and the divine.
I finally became who I was supposed to be. And ironically my relationship with God improved because I don't feel the need to be anything other than myself https://t.co/gvOMnPTaw9
— bjöncé (@dundundaan) March 25, 2023
So much! I feel more WHOLE. I learned the difference between religion & spirituality. I live my life more broadly + fully e.g I wouldn't have become a sex therapist if I had remained religious. My path then was 'sing unto the Lord' and anything else was wrong. Now I sing + MORE! https://t.co/gMOzfUYrBl
— MaggieTheTherapist (@MaggietheMezzo) March 24, 2023
Fear of death and hell
In most religious traditions there’s so much fear of death because after death comes judgment. With judgment comes the risk of eternal damnation. Leaving organized religion for many people results in freeing from the fear of death and judgment. For Christians especially, it comes with an end to rapture anxiety. The rapture, for any who may not know, is an instant when the world ends when God will bodily take his people to heaven. It will happen suddenly and the people who are right with God will immediately be carried into heaven. Many Christians have rapture anxiety, this persistent fear that they may not be among the ones who are taken into heaven and instead will be left on earth to suffer painful tribulations with the sinners.
It’s a lot but I don’t miss Rapture anxiety. I was paranoid checking my own thoughts and in an odd state of perma-repentance, just incase. I’d have felt too much jealousy at watching people float up and I’ve always wanted to fly bana 🤣 https://t.co/lYb6C8Q2Ls
— Dooneese (@nashohmy) March 24, 2023
Stopped being so afraid of death (to the point where it scares me sometimes 😂) https://t.co/1YOdFmv7MH
— Jeffrey K (@JayFreaKay) March 24, 2023
less guilt, less performing. I let go of who I was taught god was and experienced it for myself. I have a deeper connection with myself and life. Im not constantly worried about going to “hell”. https://t.co/B4hn99QpyJ
— the bag girls club (@baggirlsclub_) March 24, 2023
1. I've found it very freeing not having the threat of eternal damnation hanging over my head
2. It was more at peace because my logic is no longer constantly battling the faith that was imposed on me
3. I read a lot more teachings on morality, philosophy and ethics https://t.co/0t9BNRwGS2
— afro luffy (@velvetistired) March 24, 2023
less anxiety for sure https://t.co/ZxQMSqf5Ds
— 👩🏽🎨 the makeup shapeshifter (@slimgirlsupreme) March 22, 2023
For many, there’s something very freeing about leaving organized religion with all its rules, all the shame and guilt. It’s the freedom to choose your path and think differently without having to be limited to some religious text.
It’s the first time in my life I’ve felt truly FREE. All the sense of freedom Christianity promised me I never experienced till I let it go honestly & it took a while to come to terms with that. Every bondage I felt was when I was a believer. I also think more critically now…1/n https://t.co/qY7bIbumCZ
— a_G (@Araba_AG) March 24, 2023
The shame disappeared and I've never been happier 🏾 https://t.co/eYKEzII4G5
— kwandZ (@kwandokuhle_) March 25, 2023
I no longer live in fear.
I am more empathetic than ever, open minded & always teachable.
I love the friends & family I choose a lot more + I understand how they think rather than judge them.
I am living the life I always wanted to live without fear of judgement.
It's FREEDOM!! https://t.co/hPirJM4yHU
— AmTheMuyayu (@naana_mukiddi) March 24, 2023
The fact that I am free to imagine what's outside the box of conformity and also live outside the said box!
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING EVER!
10/10 would recommend https://t.co/DiWFDBQGEu
— papa bear (@takismagic) March 24, 2023
I started living life on my own terms, it was like I broke free. I'm also indifferent to (my) death. https://t.co/1Gptrx3N40
— mcreativity mbaya (@jackiewmacharia) March 24, 2023
Freedom from the pressure of performing worthiness. https://t.co/AOFl9go7zv
— Stunt Queen (@edo_a_) March 24, 2023
To say it felt like FREEDOM is an understatement. https://t.co/QyOa0PEn9W
— Mr. Meeseks (@GunnerWhoWalks) March 24, 2023
I am fully myself, and ain’t no shame on this here new body 🌝🌚 https://t.co/ooHzdUOSUB
— Mo (@Mothoni_) March 24, 2023
There's no shame, more empathy, a bigger sense of responsibility, less delusion, and a healthier relationship with my body. https://t.co/Jngybs0fD3
— Shaz (@boitjep) March 24, 2023
Read the comments, people are sharing how they became kinder and better people. That should tell you all you need to know about organized religion https://t.co/LjREeFgN42
— Feminist Witch 🌙 (@DonCorleANN) March 24, 2023
I used to experience a lot of dissonance, attempting to accept things I felt were wrong and I couldn't bear to experience. Now I can choose my life, choose my beliefs, choose my forms of enjoyment, I am free. It is the best decision I ever made. https://t.co/jP3Q6a0DQM
— Njau✨ (@NjauPauline) March 24, 2023
Can’t emphasize this enough ,
PEACE AND FREEDOM https://t.co/0WiaZcdmnX
— Witch ✨ (@_Adatheebaddie) March 23, 2023
Lack of post nut guilt is extremely freeing I'm gonna say that much https://t.co/2HDdA7E7GI
— Da Dawg 🐕 (@currAm3L) March 23, 2023
I perform acts of service and kindness not because sky daddy will slay me if I don't, but because it feels good to be kind… It's so freeing to not live in fear of perpetual hell,but to have joy bc life is for the living … Very nice. https://t.co/1AgZvzGqEs
— Mon Nom C'est Ginger (@ganjiskhanum) March 23, 2023
It feels freeing.
I'm not doing good because I want to go see someone after I die or because I'm afraid of them.
I don't have to wake up to see the same people singing the same songs every Sunday.
I became shameless.
I'm not afraid of questioning the things I was taught. https://t.co/wCYF997HXO
— Honey Pot 🍯 (@Miss_Patriciah) March 23, 2023
1. I let go of shame. Everything was sexual. I never learnt to ride a bike because I was saving my hymen. I was afraid to kiss people because I thought I needed to keep a log book with dates so I could present it to my husband with explanations for why it happened.
— Feminist Whore (@kfcharmian) March 23, 2023
I’ve tasted freedom and I have no regrets https://t.co/MZtKmZApF0
— Bella the Storyteller (@1st_Storyteller) March 23, 2023
2. A better understanding of how the world worked
4. Living the best version here because theres nothing on the other side
5. No cognitive dissonance and rationalizing alot of bs
6. Wholesome marriage without neck head bs https://t.co/GRnoRWhuRu
— The_finance_guru 🦋🦋🦋 (@I_wanna_meria) March 23, 2023
Free. Went to Therapy & it has been far effective than church.
I let go easily. Firm with my bounderies. I no longer let things I cannot control bother me (with church, praying for the same thing led me to so much anxiety).
I am happy with the little I have which is abundant. https://t.co/F5Y5vIwenj
— Zet_Ankole (@Zet_Ndlovukati) March 23, 2023
Shuuuu. Immensely .i just feel, lighter. Les burdened . https://t.co/baFzgTdwjA
— arumlily (@Arumlily92) March 23, 2023
Acceptance of life and its despair
One of the things religion offers is it offers hope. In the face of the grief, pain and despair that is part of being a human being, it offers an escape. People are encouraged with statements like ‘God has a plan’ or when someone dies, ‘They are in heaven with God and you’ll see them again’. Religion always has a reason for your suffering or pain whether it’s your fault for sinning or it’s part of God’s ineffable plan. Leaving organized religion takes away these encouraging statements and reasons for why things happen, forcing you to face life in all its inexplicable glory and horror.
I can grieve and feel my pain without its fault/causation being tied to failing a higher being. https://t.co/gPONQvthSI
— ♡♧♡° (@peverellbel) March 25, 2023
Life is still shit but I stopped getting that empty feeling and i live by my personal moral code https://t.co/HxE5pfg4z3
— Ms Honey🐝 (@Ade_ni_ke) March 23, 2023
You don’t realize how much of your time is wrapped up in religious activities until you leave organized religion and suddenly find yourself with a ton of free time.
72 hr weekends https://t.co/DCCl6T9WYe
— sid (@dekulites) March 24, 2023
I get a full weekend now. I am able to live and be in the present rather than fixating on a future that I have not seen. I eat bacon and pork. I indulge my vanity and feel no guilt. I wear cute clothes now. IYKYK. I have more empathy. I protect myself better. I have boundaries 😌 https://t.co/8Tq7uj5v5q
— Kemi (@i_am_alizeti) March 23, 2023
It’s made me more expressive in my creativity and I enjoy my weekends with my family a lot more ❤️ https://t.co/4WNJDfJo5D
— Textured Art (@KarimiWesonga) March 23, 2023
In most religious traditions, you can blame someone, usually the devil for your decisions. Once you leave organized religion, your decisions are yours and you have no one to blame. You have to make an argument for what you want to do, not relying on religious text or a religious leader’s instructions which makes you incredibly accountable for your choices.
For me the past 6 or 7 years of my life I have spent away from organized religion and choosing humanism as a life stance has been the best time of my life.
I hold myself more accountable for my own actions whether good I bad. I strive every day to be better person. https://t.co/ts9vhtixpw
— Justice Okai-Allotey #QueerLivesMatter (@Owula_Kpakpo) March 24, 2023
I now get 48 hour weekends and some peace of mind
I can live my life by my rules
I have become more cognisant about my life and the decisions I make daily without having to base them on the Bible or religion in general
I am more confident and was able to let go of the toxic shame https://t.co/4kfOFAPrZT
— ooh woowww (@Njokiiiiiiiiiii) March 24, 2023
I feel more responsible for my actions there's no scapegoat. So I actively try to be a good/better person because that's what we should all do, not cause there's some imagined reward at the end of your life.
"If what we do doesn't matter, then all that matters is what we do…" https://t.co/f1BFrgHWDG
— Kenthick (@laureezyf) March 24, 2023
I am liberated from shame and guilt and I hold myself accountable, I don’t blame the devil for tempting me.
Sha the list goes on… https://t.co/YwpRxJLmY6
— Ruth (@mu_ruthh) March 24, 2023
Here’s one that’s great for homosexuals and women everywhere.
Reviewing the responses here and i can relate to many on top of avoiding pregnancy in my 20s this was one of the best things i did for myself. the freedom, peace, empathy, objectivity, living life more fully, no bigotry, no patriarchy akt best! https://t.co/GRnoRWhuRu
— The_finance_guru 🦋🦋🦋 (@I_wanna_meria) March 24, 2023
I was a bigot. https://t.co/LNbecJyaX5
— HIM (@XolaniAmani) March 24, 2023
Still, some miss it
As with all other things, being part of a religious group is not all bad. There’s a lot of good in it. The sense of community it offers, for example, is often unmatched and sorely missed by some people who leave organized religion.
My life has stopped revolving around the church and it’s community, like I have no ties to them anymore not even choir (which I do miss ngl) https://t.co/q0bQRC4txg
— eka Iban (@evenyeee) March 23, 2023
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