Organised Religion versus True Religion

Why are there so many different versions of religion, with each one saying they are the correct path to God?

This is the question I have each time a religious milestone is celebrated worldwide – Christmas for me is the greatest example of this.

I was at a major shopping centre just recently, in fact two days before Christmas, when a young woman of Muslim faith asked me if I celebrated Christmas. To her surprise I answered, “No I don’t.” She paused and then asked me if I celebrated Eid Al-Fitr? When I responded with no again she was perplexed. I continued on and said, “I do not believe in or practise the beliefs of the organised religions today. I do however have a deep connection with God. I know that there is only one God and that God is Love, and not the emotional love we are sold but true Love – Love that is non-judgemental, it does not condemn or separate races. This God is where each of us come from, and where we will all one day return to.” She said to me, “I have never met anyone like you,” and I replied with, “There are many that know what I do, they just don’t allow themselves to live it or dare say it out loud.” I said, “You know it too,” and she nodded with a quiet but firm yes.

I walked around the corner to my next shop and met with another young woman, this time of Christian faith and she asked me the exact same question, “Will you be celebrating Christmas on Sunday?” When I replied with, “No, I don’t celebrate Christmas,” she went quiet and wasn’t sure how to continue the conversation. I asked her, “How about you, will you be celebrating Christmas on Sunday?” To my surprise, she said, “No.” She explained her family were Orthodox Christians and they celebrate on the 7th January. To which I asked the question, “Really, how is it that there can be two dates for the birth of Jesus?” She said, “I don’t think there is and I don’t believe either one of them is true, it is just what my family believes.” I then said, “Maybe the whole message of Jesus is lost on us today?” She agreed and said, “Yes, it definitely is.”

What if true religion was about relationships? And the first step to being truly religious is to first have a loving relationship with yourself, and then naturally with all others.

I was raised as a Catholic and, as such, attended a Catholic School for 12 years. In years 11 and 12, I chose a subject called Study of Religion. In this subject we studied not only the Catholic Religion, but also many other religions. We were required to apply the theological study tool of Ninian Smart’s Six Dimensions to learn about each religion. It was broken up into six different areas: Doctrinal, Mythological, Ethical, Ritual, Experiential and Institutional.

I remember thinking at the time (and confirming this as my studies progressed), if we can apply the same six categories of study to each different religion, then all religions must be the same, they just have a different story. It is a bit like people really; each person has a different story but at the core we are all the same.

What if at the core of each religion, the message was the same? Did Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammed all not bring us the same message? Different story yes, and in a different time, but at its essence it was the same message.

What if organised religion, or religion as we know it today, has strayed away from that original message? What if I was practising true religion when I spoke with the two young women in the shopping centre? That is, I know who I am and I know who God is – Love.

What if true religion is just simply a relationship with the Love that you are, the Love that is God and therefore the Love that everyone else is, innately so?

By Terri-Anne Connors, aged 40, Melbourne, VIC

Related Reading:
Waiting for God…
Sin, Confession and the True Religion of the Ageless Wisdom
Living religion: my livingness is religion

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528 thoughts on “Organised Religion versus True Religion

  1. What if true religion was about relationships? This is a monumental question, because it takes the focus away from any kind of all-powerful being and brings in the reality of our interactions with each other, making the everyday the basis for true religion.

    1. Yep I love this so it is not about giving our power away to an unknown but instead making it about the connection with the divine we hold within ourselves and similarly seeing that this is the same in everyone around us. I would definitely agree and say true religion is about relationships, the relationship we have with ourselves, with others and the divine plan .. that is our true purpose.

  2. Should we be versing institutionalised religion against true religion – is that not what got us into trouble in the first place. Comparison.

  3. If the essence of the message was all the same from our religious teachers through time, we really must lose it in its re interpretation of others hearing and translating that message. So much so its essential quality is lost and turned into a philosophy of bastardised truth ready for those who are seeking the truth of who we are outside of ourselves.

  4. When I spent three years travelling around the world, I met many people from many different countries, cultures and all the major organised religions. One of my favourite things was to just sit and talk with local people wherever I went. One of the things that became very obvious to me was that no matter what religion or culture someone belonged to, the things that they felt were true or important to them in life and the things that they felt were wrong about the world, were exactly the same. This was the time in my life when I realised that organised religion actually keeps us more separate than united, for we are all one human family with a relationship or religion with life.

  5. At this point it is worth remembering the importance of freedom of religion, for that is the only way we can ensure that there is the possibility that true religion can be discovered by all. And within that I include the right to not believe, or to choose atheism as one’s religion of choice. Our problem with religion world wide is that we do not treat it is as a philosophical unfolding, and so it is instead ruled by belief and faith. Even the atheist to a large degree applies the concept of faith to their belief, so certain are they that what we see by way of physicality is all there is. Of course, what they perhaps should be open to is the possibility that we have not acknowledged the tools we already have to discern truly as to whether or not there truly is a God.

  6. True religion is our connection with ourselves as it is then that we know that we are in constant communication with the stars and the universe constantly confirming us as the sons of God.

  7. Religion as we have accepted it, has been a great divider of humanity. But religion in truth could never do this and can only unite us. It’s a dead giveaway that what we accept as religion is a total bastardisation.

  8. The correct path to God is that within ourselves as it is only through the acceptance of our own magnificence that we get to know how we are in constant communication with God and the universe.

  9. I used to find the claim that “we are the one true way to God” that many religions have to be totally contradictory as there is only one way in the first place. Forget about whether the way that is being touted is true or not – the fact that we as a race are in this situation alone with so many religions and the state of humanity not being all that great shows us that there are some serious lies about religion and what is true and what is not true because at the end of the day it should come back to a truth that unifies us all.

  10. “There are many that know what I do, they just don’t allow themselves to live it or dare say it out loud.” This is a great understanding you offer, a truly valuable awareness to have and appreciate everyone from. With this understanding and a willingness to offer my own understanding and relationship with God in conversation I’m discovering others respond with what is true for them. Yes more people feel God is in their lives than is spoken in the regular day to day conversations.

  11. Your sharing here Terri-Anne reminds me of the absolute beauty that comes when we just share openly and honestly with people we meet. Sometimes life seems like a party where we have spent hours getting dressed up, only to come stand and self-consciously stare at our feet. What a shame. There are so many people to meet with in this world, and so much for us to share beyond riches and fame. To think that we are alone, separate and isolated is the cause of so much despair. True Religion as you so beautifully show is simply just about connecting to others and ourselves.

  12. if we need a religion to find ourselves, belong, get identification, there are many to choose from. If we are open to exploring who we are from within, our true light and our universality we are religious, by virtue of how we live.

  13. If I were to say to a devout Christian that to truly love another ‘you have to first love yourself’ there is a very good chance they would react to me because to have a loving relationship with yourself is seen as selfish and the opposite to the beliefs of a Christian where there is a giving to another before ourselves. When we are truly loving with self, love is lived for all. We have been so misled by words and their true meaning that sometimes I find myself not saying anything but living what I feel to be true for myself and therefore for another.

  14. What is so beautiful about this bog is how you show to us that God is present everywhere and so there is no place that His love cannot be expressed – even in a shopping centre between two women who on the surface appear to have different religious beliefs but as it actually turns out hold very much the same love in their inner-hearts.

  15. I was once told that if all the churches in the world opened their doors, there would be no homelessness. It makes you wonder the purpose organised religions serve.

  16. “What if true religion is just simply a relationship with the Love that you are, the Love that is God and therefore the Love that everyone else is, innately so?” This is a claiming of what you offer here being absolute truth and when lived, life and all that it encompasses couldn’t be simpler or more joy-full I’m discovering, and there is so much more yet to re-discover.

  17. ‘What if true religion is just simply a relationship with the Love that you are, the Love that is God and therefore the Love that everyone else is, innately so?’ And in this there is no need to look outside ourselves for anything.

  18. ‘What if true religion is just simply a relationship with the Love that you are, the Love that is God and therefore the Love that everyone else is, innately so?’ no need for churches buildings to worship in, when true religion is carried in our hearts and lives wherever we go, it is our daily livingness.

  19. Your last paragraph Terri-Anne, totally captures true religion for me, it is ‘..just simply about a relationship with love..’

  20. It is so easy to impose and bring knowledge into a discussion about religion, as this is what is often promoted as the way to show others what it means to be religious. But what if the way we move, talk to others, live in our homes; work in our jobs is the biggest marker for all to see what true religion is without saying a single word?

  21. ‘Why are there so many different versions of religion, with each one saying they are the correct path to God?’ This fact exposes that there are many religions today constructed on lies. We know some stem from political agendas even. People have joined these religions for a sense of community and belonging. This blog cut through the constructs of religious institutions and demonstrates how easily we can be religious without needing to align to a specific institution. The core of religion lives within our hearts, our essence, that is, the aspect of ourselves that remains pure and untouched regardless of what our experiences and unresolved issues may be. We have all experienced moments where we feel inspired, we feel warmth and care.. in these moments we remember our essence.

  22. ‘Religion’ and ‘true religion’ can have many interpretations but your statement in this blog I feel hits the nail on the head…:What if true religion was about relationships? And the first step to being truly religious is to first have a loving relationship with yourself, and then naturally with all others…”

  23. If we all studied the quality of who we are in essence first, the quality of our Soul, we would all be students of the same religion, the religion of love. Our relationship with God would then be universally known as would be our understanding of Brotherhood, realising that we are all the equal Sons of God.

  24. If I hold myself in absolute grace while I am doing a task and feel every little detail of that task through my body, there is so much love/life/joy within that moment, because I am sharing it with God and everyone at the same time. That feels like true religion.

  25. When I ponder on Jesus the feeling I get is a man who was very humble and very connected to people. Who lived his life in a way that was loving and respectful. A family man who brought much integrity and wisdom through living a very loving life.

  26. “What if true religion is just simply a relationship with the Love that you are, the Love that is God and therefore the Love that everyone else is, innately so?” So well said Terry-Anne religion in its bastardised form is so complicated and destructive, true religion will always be simple and a naturalness to it.

  27. Really, when we break it down, the way we have allowed the bastardised version of religion to separate us doesn’t make any sense. We are all craving brotherhood, and when we truly connect with another there is no separation, no matter where we come from in the world.

  28. Terri-Ann – what I love about this blog is how intimate you became with these 2 women talking about something that many people shy away from. Religion and politics always seem to be ‘opinionated’ conversations and for that reason they aren’t too openly shared especially with strangers. So I love that you were totally open about where you are at and in return, these women felt they could open up to you too. And to me that is religion.

  29. Just the word ‘organised’ in the phrase ‘organised religion’ itself speaks volumes about its foundation. How can you have an organised version of God? How can you have an organised relationship with life and the Universe? How can you have an organised sense of oneness and brotherhood with people? It simply does not make sense.

  30. It is best not to ridicule any religion, but rather look at each deeply and on its own merits. By doing so, you will see that most religions have some basis in truth, but more importantly, you will see in time how they have lost their way. You will also see that the method by which they have lost their way does not allow one who subscribes to such philosophy to discover the root of that truth. In order to do that, you have to stand from the outside and look within.

    1. Thank you Adam, so well said. When a person is religious in the true meaning of the word they can see the truth in other religions and belief systems – they can also see and understand the reinterpretations and why these have taken place. True religion is never exclusive of anything or anyone.

  31. it seems the truth of the message has been lost and the symbolism used to teach has become fact and the rituals to mark the cycles that were always meant to evolve have been used to create laws to control and prevent change. The truth of the message love has lasted which is why we know it to be truth.

  32. Why have we compartmentalised things we should do daily? We have stolen Christmas from the Druids to buy things for others they don’t need. Valentine’s day to show another our love, Easter is about chocolate. Where has God gone, that is the easy question, he has never gone anywhere! So, where have we gone from real religion is the question!

  33. The fact that we can feel more true love when we are a baby in mums arms than we do throughout most of our lives growing up or as an adult is indicative of a massive whole in how we see God and religion in general. Atheism has not brought about more love on this earth than any other religion has in the past. In fact religion has been attributed to the loss of billions of lives supposedly in the name of God, but surely not of true love because to truly hold and care for another is certainly not to kill them senselessly! To know God, we have to also know what love truly is and means and then we can begin to establish a true relationship with Him in a true religious way of life.

  34. In origin the word religion means relationship and so a relationship with God. ‘Organised religion’ is just that, an organisation and the relationship is with the organisation rather than with God.

  35. Thank you for sharing the example of the woman you met at the shop and her truthful experience of religion. It is so interesting to observe how specific cultures are embedded into the beliefs of one religion that may not be what they truly believe or practice but the pull to belong comes from the identity of being part of a cultural background. During my childhood, some people would often expose the corruption and double standards preached from the pulpit in the church they attended, yet still attended to keep face with all the other members of the cultural community.

  36. I can not imagine all the religious messengers Jesus, Muhammad etc.. ever going to war. This is very telling of the dangers that can arise when religious doctrines are mentally contextualised and not truly lived.

  37. Yes, what if these great world teachers – along with the many others there have been – have in fact been presenting the very same wisdom to humanity throughout time and despite the superficial differences, they are all saying the same thing to us? I like to keep it very simple and honour the message of Love they all teach and in this simplicity there is the opportunity for all these disparate faiths to unite in one true religious way.

  38. It makes sense that each religion in truth comes from the same essence and somewhere along the way created their own story on top of what lay at the core. No different to us in the ways we have tainted ourselves from the truth of our essence to differentiate ourselves, when in truth we are all the same within. It’s such a shame that we have moved away from the truth like we have… for much disharmony and chaos has come from living the beliefs that followed.

  39. I love the simplicity of realising that we can have a loving relationship with others if we ensure we have it with ourselves first and foremost – imagine the impact on the workplace if we all focused on how kind we are to ourselves.

  40. Thanks Terri-Anne… it looks like we just have to start talking about this, but base the conversation on our lived experience of what religion truly means… then and only then can true light be shed on the extraordinarily murky waters of what should be a fountain of truth for us all.

  41. If we had made religion about having loving, equal, harmonious relationships with each other and God, we would have a very different world today. It seems like a good place to start to re-imprint the mess we currently have created with organised religion.

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