I have never been too particularly religious. Spiritual yes, when I am in deep shit. When I feel I need to turn to some really 'high' authority and God seems to be a likely person to appeal to, or thank for something good that happened to me. But organised religion seems to be run more like a closed exclusive clubs, where you have to abide by certain rules or get busted.
Whether it is Christianity, Sikhism (my own religion), Islam or Hinduism, I find a lot of be desired with organised religion. Whereas the supreme deity should be the epitome of love and tolerance, religion is often the opposite. It seems to thrive on the word NO and a severe list of Do's and Dont's. That seems aimed more at controlling its congregation, intent that the power never slips from the hands of its clergy. Rigid conventions are set up that ask you to do this or that and you are faced with dire consequences in case you dont follow those conventions. For instance, take Karva Chauth. The womenfolk are given a list of instructions, wake up early, eat before sun-up, stay hungry all day, look at the moon through a chalni (a seive) and then eat. During the evening there is a pooja and katha session where stories are read out about unfortunate women who mistook starlight for moonlight and broke their fast incorrectly. Their husbands died mysteriously.
In gurdwara's too preaching goes on against fasting (seen as a hindu custom) and in favor of dashwant, an ordinance requiring the faithful to donate a tenth or their earnings to the Gurdwara. SGPC is filthy rich in funds thanks to the generous donations made everyday by the faithful. Same is the case with all the big mandir's with huge fan following.
The worst part is, you cannot criticise organised religion. As a child you are hushed if you raise any questions about the 'elders' or religion. As a grownup it is the same. Criticism and questioning is the backbone of progress, without it we would still be in dark ages. As a member of a school group I witnessed rabid discussions ensuing every time religion was mentioned. In the end, we gave up discussing religion altogether.
At a social gathering one eschews passionate pronouncements on any touchy subject, sticking to safe mentions of the weather politics and sports. The womenfolk turn to the constructive topics of clothes, jewellery and the goings on in the family or mohalla. But, when it comes to the UN or journalism, one has to take a stand. And here, I concur wholeheartedly with Johann Hari.
Here goes, do show your support in which ever way you can !!!!