During her blogathon to raise money for the Secular Student Alliance, someone asked Jen McCreight this question:
Do you think your current psychological problems would be less severe or even non-existant if you could rely on a faith? (= + faith community?) Sorry if too provocative.
Jen answered in the negative, saying that these issues have been with her since childhood, and obviously would live through any conversions she had. This got me thinking about my own experience with people telling me that symptoms of my autism (or OCD, or PTSD) would be relieved if I discovered faith.
Disabled people often resort to faith communities, for a variety of reasons. Organizations like temples and churches are one of the very few places where many disabled people find accessibility and a community which will not turn them away for their disability. For those with mental disabilities, a religious organization may be the only one they will not be expelled from for making other members uncomfortable. (I have a lot of choice words with people who say that being around the disabled makes them uncomfortable)
I was never among them though, and I’ve never been religious. I’m serious about my Jewish cultural background, but that always involved a lot more introspection, such as reading and studying, than participating in a group. Which suited me just fine, really.
I don’t see how attending a church or “finding Jesus” (or Islam, or Buddhism, or anything else for that matter) could alleviate my disabilities. I am by nature a solitary person who prefers my own company. Group settings make me uncomfortable, and I would most likely be alienated by church. I’ve always wished I could find solutions to problems on my own, but when I cannot, I turn to professionals, such as a nutrition counsellor for my eating disorders, or a therapist for OCD behaviour.
PTSD is something I have to work through on my own, but I will not gain closure by having the situation be out of my hands and into the hands of someone else, whether that someone else is a fictional God or a well-meaning religious figure. That is something I need to work through on my own as I progress through life. I am aware of how having it is limiting my life and potential, but I am working through it, and I am proud of how far I have gotten since I was fifteen and scared. I can keep going at this pace and find closure, I know of it.
I am not going to use religion like a tool to help me get what I want. That is dishonest, and in my opinion, would not be a true expression of faith. I am happy with how I handle my disabilities, and I do not believe that being religious would make my life one iota better. It would just mean that I couldn’t sleep in on Sundays.