*as revealed to me by life experience. This is only my opinion.
1) No one adherent truly represents a religion. This is good news for those who are bad examples, and bad news for those who think finding religion is an easy job.
2) A flaw in the practice of its adherents doesn’t not necessarily mean a flaw in the religion itself. Those who hold themselves up as spiritual beacons aren’t necessarily the ones to follow. Frequently, spiritual leaders are so busy leading spiritual lives that they don’t have time to draw attention to themselves.
3) Religion is not simply the act of attending church, nor is religion seated in a symbol. It’s not even a specific set of rituals. Those are all external things that believers and non-believers can focus on alike. While mocking a religious ritual or destroying a religious symbol is disrespectful, faith is something that can only be damaged by the person who chooses to give up hope. If you have a strong faith, there isn’t an external force on the planet that can change that.
4) Religion, like any human endeavor, is subject to bias. A spiritually weak person will bend their interpretation of sacred text to serve their own wants & needs. A spiritually strong person works toward changing their behavior to fit into their interpretation of sacred text. As I have also said before, spiritually weak people also prefer holding others to a high spiritual standard before holding themselves to the same standard. Control issues, manipulation or deception can exist without religion. Religion can just be a means of delivering such an agenda.
5) Finding religion is only a matter of asking the right questions and looking in the right places. It starts with the honest willingness to look and not asking the same questions over and over again. It is finding your own proof, even if indirect, that the divine exists. Taking someone else’s assumptions at face value limits your own growth. I also think that the spiritual journey involves more doubt and fear that you may be lead to believe exists.
6) There is nothing wrong with ritual. It provides stability and security for us. It can be comforting. It provides predictability in the face of an unpredictable world. Some require more structure to their ritual than others, but there is no one answer for everyone.
7) Having faith simply means the ability to have hope. Having enough trust in a feeling that everything will work out, despite what the immediate circumstances may tell you. That is faith. This then leads to building your relationship with the divine.
8 ) Wisdom and truth are timeless. You don’t have to be the oldest or have the most adherent to be validated. Mocking, lying or distorting the religion of another can also be a means of disempowering it. Those become the socially acceptable way to destroy the competition since imprisoning, torturing and killing others for their faith isn’t an option anymore…at least, in this country.
9) Many words are subject to different emotional meanings which includes the use the of the word PATH to describe religion. Some assume this means there is only one. Others see it as many paths all leading to the same destination. The word God means many things to many people. Some believe its masculine. Some believe its feminine. Some believe both genders. Some neither or that it’s a force. As it is an infinite being, finite beings such as ourselves can wrap our brains around the entire essense of the divine. People who are overly concerned with debating the mortal concept of gender as it applies to the divine have probably not made the spiritual leap yet.