real life

'I grew up in the church. Now I want to break up with my religion.'

Dear religion - I think it's time for us to break up. 

It's a decision not made from a place of brashness, but one that feels like a slow and steady split. Death by a thousand cuts if you will. 

Growing up Christian in a certain denomination, I had always pictured myself as being religious for the rest of my life.

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For context, my mum is Christian and my dad is agnostic, so it was typically Mum and I who found comfort in that space and made ourselves a part of it regularly. Mum would regularly take me to Hillsong events as a baby too. 

We weren't the 'perfect' Christians - we certainly didn't go to church every week. But the religion itself was a constant in our life. I would pray every night, I loved attending scripture at school, and I would regularly attend church youth groups. 

Ironically, I was supposed to be christened at birth, but my godmother overslept and forgot to rock up to the church and so the christening didn't happen. 

So aged nine, I decided on my own accord to get baptised. 

There was study, long conversations with our local priest (who was lovely), and getting ready for the big day. I had planned out my outfit in detail - a white dress with little roses and ribbon sleeves. It was a bit child bride to be fair. 


But I felt like hot sh*t. 

Though when I reached my teens, my relationship with religion began to morph into something I hadn't expected.

Life got in the way - parents divorcing, a loved one almost losing their life to suicidal ideation, and the typical angst of being a teenager.

For a lot of people when they're faced with challenges, they find comfort and strength in their faith. For me, it did the complete opposite - it made me feel despondent and cheated on. 

It was also coupled with a few realisations as I became older. 

Sometimes - and I repeat sometimes - religion is used as a shield by those in positions of power to cover for their misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia.

I know I don't look very impressed in this photo, but I can assure you that during the baptism, I felt pretty darn cool. Image: Supplied.


It's a gradual process of disenfranchisement. 

Many women are still fighting to be priests and have positions of power in the church. Patriarchal standards are also embedded within the institution.

Just a few days ago the Sydney head of one denomination suggested the mere desire for same-sex sexual intimacy is "an inclination toward evil".

The report from the church comes as the NSW Government plans to ban gay conversion practices - and in case you missed it, religion-based conversion therapy is most common.

We've seen conservative politicians try to cite "religious freedom" to justify exemptions from antidiscrimination laws. It's a slap in the face especially to refugees who have fled religious persecution. 

We've watched the alt-conservative movement take a narrow-minded view on age-old religious teachings, morphing it to suit their traditionalist agenda.

I've watched in horror - but not disbelief - as senior church figures have been found guilty of child sexual abuse and institutionalised cover-ups.

And I remember the moment when I watched my grandfather die of cancer, only for someone to suggest it's part of "God's will".

Of course, not all Christians are reflective of all these points I've made.

Nor are all religious people xenophobic. In fact, the vast majority of people I know who have a faith of some sort, are extremely tolerant and kind. 


Have you noticed how many stipulations I've tried to note, very wary of making anyone feel I am attacking their religion? It highlights what a fraught conversation this can be.

But to ignore it altogether isn't the answer either. 

According to the latest Australian census, I'm not the only one who has taken a step back from religion.

Aussies who have no religious affiliation have jumped between 2016 and 2021, marking a rapid shift away from organised religion. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found the number of people professing "no religion" is the largest growing 'faith group' on the census. And it's close to overruling the Christian demographic.

The "no religion" bracket is also growing in popularity among younger Australians too.

Ultimately, my loyalty no longer lies with the religion I grew up idolising. It's hard to ignore what institutionalised religion represents now in a society that is growing more and more secular by the day. 

Now I share very few similarities with those people in the church I grew up with. We're different people, we value different things. And we see the world differently.

At its core all religions preach that they're about empathy and kindness, going on about 'you shall love your neighbour as yourself'.

But for me personally - I don't see love anymore. I just see hate. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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