It’s hardly surprising that when former theists leave their religion they feel that a weight has been lifted off their shoulders, as they are under so much pressure to adhere to the doctrines of their religion, to avoid sin, and prepare themselves to be as pure as possible for the judgement before God after their death. Religion is a cerebral constraint, a bondage for the mind, that’s all about control, and a ‘follow me or else‘ dogma. Theists are so obsessed with doing what their religion considers right, they actually struggle to be what they actually are; and that’s being a human being. Humans aren’t perfect, and I don’t actually think we are meant to be, as we learn by our mistakes.
In most religions you aren’t allowed mistakes. They claim that God loves you despite your flaws, but you’re not allowed to be who you really are. Following a religious guideline so you can join your God, in whatever afterlife you believe in, isn’t being true to yourself, as you are literally being what’s expected of you. But remember the free will you’re told that you have. Free will leads to sin, so how exactly are you expected to be who you really are? You are expected to wear religious blinkers, that enable you to ignore what’s around you and only see the path that’s in front of you. Surely this isn’t healthy for the mind?
“Indoctrination is not just demeaning to the human conscience, it is lethal for the flourishing psychology of the hungry, young mind.
I asked a question today that’s received some answers, and I expect many more, and some answers are by people that allowed their mind to accept critical thinking, and others are from homosexuals who feel their previous faith wished to disown them as their lifestyles are sinful, and a few said that they suffered from depression and feared for their mental fragility, and decided to leave their faith behind gave them a new positive start in life.
Many people claim that having a God gives your life meaning, and makes them complete, but this is often from people who’ve always had faith and don’t know any other life. I know people become ‘born again’, but it’s minimal compared to the quantity walking away from faith, as many are sad attempting to be what they aren’t. People live their lives pretending to be theists as either their society expects it, or their family demands it, and to walk away from God can make a person lose everything that’s important to them.
“R/S beliefs may also create high standards that are difficult to live up to, resulting in a sense of failure and guilt. Furthermore, those unable to live according to these standards may face rejection from their faith community, resulting in social isolation.” – Source
I’ve read a few articles written by people that say that they suffered deep depression, and it only subsided once they separated themselves from religion. They all said the same thing about when they approached their church to ask for advice, and were told that they must have been blocked by God for sinning, possessed by a demon, or under Satan‘s influence. For someone with mental health problems, is this what they would want to hear? Making someone feel guilt for something that they aren’t responsible for is certainly not showing compassion, or empathy.
As Richard Dawkins wrote, religion is a form of delusion, so no wonder it’s an attribute to depression. It’s not natural for humans to put the feelings of a deity before the feelings of other humans, and to accept that the rules and conditions that deity has laid out are absolute and to question them is questioning your faith in said deity. People can become completely different beasts when their minds are poisoned and indoctrinated, especially when they are taught to hate, or dislike those which don’t fit the expected criteria ie; homosexuals, transgender, liberals and non–believers.
“Failure in family life, an area of particular importance to highly religious persons because of its emphasis by religious traditions, may predispose to higher levels of guilt and greater depression.” – Source
Some religious believers are open to criticism, and are open to questioning their faith against other possibilities, but these are seldom people of Abrahamic religions. Some manage to escape, but often suffer consequences by doing so, and this can include threats of being disowned by their families, which is emotional blackmail. But many are so far indoctrinated that they’ll never think outside the box, and if they did head down the path of depression, they’ll never admit it’s the peer pressure of their faith, and community, but just put it down to God’s will, and accept that everything is part of God’s plan.
One of the main issues I’ve concluded is not only fear of isolation, but the stigma of weakness. Depression suggests either weakness of character, or weakness of faith, and many churches and societies don’t want to hear it. They believe that with God in your life anything is possible. Yet this simply isn’t true. Regardless of faith, humans can get a rough deal, they can encounter financial problems, a relationship can fall apart and they lose everything, or they lose a loved one, and however strong your faith in a God is, it’s not going to repair damage like death of a spouse, child or sibling. If you’re lucky it can bring comfort, but the comfort is just self delusion as people need to face their fears, or grieve, and locking it all away and just accepting it’s part of God’s plan is surely not healthy and will inevitably lead to a breaking point. To some faith can be a protective shield, but to others it’s a mask to hide who they really are, and eventually the mask will crack and the real person behind it will be exposed.