'How I escaped religion and became a better person.'

I want to start by stating I was never involved in a cult. Religion can come across very cult-ish. ‘Escaping religion’ makes it sounds like I was part of a place where we drank blood, pierced our nipples and sacrificed our livestock so that we may please the higher power. That isn’t what happened. But it does sound pretty interesting.

I grew up in a religious household, and much to my parents’ disgust, am not religious in the slightest.

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From a very young age, I was intrigued by other religions. I didn’t want to follow them, I was just curious as to why we should follow one God, when we had options as to which one we to choose. Kind of like Tinder.

My parents looked at me like I had cut my toes off. WHAT? You want to know things – about other Gods, about other religions? There are no other Gods… NOW GO PRAY!

'My parents looked at me like I had cut my toes off.' Image: iStock.

From 8am to 1pm; then again from 5:30pm to 8:30pm, we went to church. Every. Damn. Sunday.

Do you know what I do every Sunday now? Sweet FA. I enjoy it and I'm still a good personOf course I'm a good person, I don't need to go to church to 'help' me be kind. It costs $0, it feels great to be kind and it makes people smile. Shouldn't that be the message we put out?

When I was a kid, I was brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality was wrong. I'm ashamed of it now. I want to go back in time and literally punch myself in the face for being so judgmental. At the time, I thought people might hate me for thinking differently to them. I was scared to have a different opinion because I might be sent TO THE PIT FIRES OF HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY if I even entertained a different thought.

Westboro Baptist Church protestors.

It messes with your brain - it almost does sound cult-like. I was scared to let anyone know how much I enjoyed swearing, in fear they would not accept me (or that I would BURN FOREVER IN THE PIT OF HELL). Do you hear how stupid that sounds? I was afraid of being judged and you know why? Because Christians are judgmental. Ever heard of Westboro Baptist Church? The most judgmental humans on this planet.

And if you always live in fear of not being accepted, then how will people find out how incredibly awesome you are? Where would Lady Gaga be? Freddie Mercury would never have been in the public eye and Bohemian Rhapsody would NEVER have been recorded. What would be my karaoke go to then, huh?

Lady Gaga at the National Equality March.

I don’t think I’ve even told my parents that I no longer believe, although, I do recall once telling them that I didn’t believe in hell or the devil. That day was about as fun as sliding down a lemon waterfall with a thousand paper cuts.To be able to have an open and honest chat, I would need at least one glass ... no, one bottle ... no, TWO BOTTLES OF WINE for that conversation.

But I think they know; and I think they’re disappointed; and that makes me feel like shit. I never set out to hurt anyone by what I believe or, rather, don’t believe.

I can’t even pinpoint the exact moment I decided to be a “non-believer”; it's been a 29-year process. I do remember the last church service I attended though. I walked out of there faster than you can say dinosaur.

Author, Krystal Haddad.

They were showing a video on a family who lost their baby to SIDS to collect the offering. I was so pissed off that I stormed out, clutching my baby, tears rolling down my face, wondering why they would tug on my heart strings so hard? Money, that's why....

Churches don’t take break ups well, either. The number of calls I received from my old church was border-line stalker. I had to do the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” spiel and it got super awkward. They are worse than your ex-boyfriend.

Even now, trying to write this post; I find it difficult because I'm so pissed off about how I used to think when I was heavily involved in church.

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You don't have to be religious to be kind; you don't have to be religious to make people smile; you don't have to be religious to create music. Do what is inside of you and do what makes you happy. Don't try and please 'God' but suffer yourself in the meantime. Nobody judges you for being true to who you are. And if they do, they are the loser, not you. But just remember though, we must not judge them. If they want to serve God and do their thing, that’s ok. We can all get along even if we don’t agree on everything. How boring would the world be if we all thought the same?

So, how did I ‘escape’? Easy. I decided to be myself, not care what anyone else thought, became the kind of person I always knew I was and lived an easier existence. I did not try to please anyone but instead was kind to all. It only took me 29 years, but I finally accepted myself.

You're a good person. You don't need 'God' to tell you that.