One of my favorite songs from my younger days is “At Last, I Am Free” by Chic. In this song, composers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards craft a beautifully orchestrated, wonderfully vocalized, and masterfully arranged ode to an escape from an abusive relationship. While the number of such relationships in my life is asymptotically close to zero, this song always moved me emotionally.
In that sense, the song was prophetic — in many ways, it sort of tells the story of how religion, particularly christianity, allured, captivated, and abused me. It culminates in my moment of epiphany — where I learned how harmful it was and how I spoke up and spoke out against it and made my exit.
Even as a christian, I knew religion was enslaving. When I wrote my book, “Deconstructing Religion,” I operated from the premise that following jesus is “relationship, not religion.” I told my readers that the key to freedom was eschewing the religious notions around jesus and seeing him as the paradigm of true love.
But is there freedom if the alternative is torment or death? Is it freedom if your failure to accept this path of freedom causes you to forego blessings for curses? The traditional christian dichotomy is good versus evil; heaven versus hell. I ultimately grew beyond that to a more universalist view that suggested that everyone is saved but you must awaken to that reality in order to fully appropriate its benefits.
About a year and a half ago, I had a seismic shift in my faith foundation. The pandemic and the American political climate undergirding it brought the failure of faith into stark relief. First of all, I saw many christians embracing a political figure who is the antithesis of anything christian. Personally, I was aghast at how instead of admitting that they had embraced a toxic man with a toxic worldview, they doubled-down on his lies and horrible behavior. Then, when his policies led to the deaths of millions of people — many of them “christians” — and the god of the buybull (that’s what I will call the “bible” going forward) did nothing, I was done.
Mind you, there were a number of personal occurrences that happened that helped lead me up to the point where I finally said, “fuck christianity,” and moved on into the next phase of my life.
A couple of housekeeping points — First, I am not angry or bitter at christianity or any religion. I am not “church hurt,” as I led a very progressive christian fellowship before my awakening. I do realize, and will point out with precision, that religion — especially christianity, the “mack daddy” of religions — is silly and merits no real study, as such study leads to nothing approaching a meaningful result. My goal is to help others escape what I call the plantation of religion without having to suffer any more than they already have. The second is that I am not some novice or neophyte with regard to religion. While I am no seminarian, I carefully and faithfully studied christianity from a theological, anthropological, cultural, geographical, and even financial perspective. I dedicated more than thirty years of my life to this. I say this not to indulge in the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority” but to simply illustrate that my study actually fortifies my christian exodus.
That said, I am now living in a level of freedom, peace, and joy I’ve never experienced in my life. I am no longer bound by book, doctrine, or tradition. I am no longer concerned about my “eternal destination” because I am too busy enjoying the moment of now. I have no need to witness or testify to anyone about the goodness of a god I now know never existed. And, most of all, I have neither need nor desire to split hairs about the nuances of a religion that helps no one.
I remember once where I purchased a piece of property for a pittance with the hope of rehabbing and selling it. I quickly discovered it was a gross abuser of both my time and my money. But, for months, I was determined to make it work but then I realized it never would. I would never see the promise of this property fulfilled. So I wised up and unloaded it at a loss to someone else. I cannot describe the relief I felt knowing I no longer needed to give this financial albatross any more of my time or attention.
And this is descriptive of how I felt when I unhitched myself from the yoke of religion. Except it’s better — much better.
Today, my health, my finances, my career, my relationships, my inner peace are all greater than they ever were when I was a christian. I am able to consider things from perspectives that I once thought would surely land me outside the good graces of the god I believed in. I no longer see myself or my belongings as the possession of any god and I no longer have a need to sow into a fairytale kingdom.
Most of all, I have no further need to ever discuss the buybull in any way, shape, form, or fashion.
This article has two purposes — one, to serve as my “emancipation proclamation,” that I am no longer a slave, bondservant, or even a “son” of a nonexistent “god;” and two, to invite you along on my journey. I will not make any promises other than the fact that I will not try to evangelize, convert, or proselytize anyone to my way of thinking. My only hope is that the words I share will lead you to simply apply logic and reason to that which you believe instead of believing something without substantiating evidence.
At last, I am free,
I can hardly see in front of me
I can hardly see in front of me…
But I can see clearly now <wink>.
Derrick Day is the author of Deconstructing Religion. He is also one of the co-hosts of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast and the host of The Forward Podcast on the One Institution Media Network. More recently, Derrick is a contributor to the new book, Before You Lose Your Mind, published by Quoir.