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Curiosity over Conformity

The views below are personal musings on faith, or my inability to embrace organized religion, while still being in awe of life and nature. I don't speak for all Autistic people or all faiths. Faith is like having a favourite colour, food, or song.  You just 'know' and can tell people what resonates for you but rarely change their mind and that's okay to have different beliefs. I admire and respect people of faith who use it for 'good' not war. I think I'm lacking the 'faith gene' though.  (And no, there isn't a gene for that as far as I know).  

I don't know if there is really a correlation but I feel like my inability to follow dogma unquestioningly / to have 'faith' or just 'believe' without proof stems from being Autistic.  

In University I took a religious studies course and explored dozens of religions from A to Z (Agnostic to Zoroastrian) by intellectually reading about them and just found a set of rules and beliefs and practices that seemed like they benefited the leaders rather than the followers.  To me, it appeared that new religions, dominations, or sects got formed any time someone disagreed.  They just split off and formed their own church. It was that easy. 

Who benefitted? Not a woman or a child. Their role was to obey. Not because respect was earned, but “because I said so” arbitrarily and to avoid physical and emotional punishment. It kept land ownership, access to education and the ability to earn income and other forms of power in the hands of the church in a patriarchal system. Even the term 'head of the household' is a misnomer in many families.  Consider the erasure of the value of unpaid labour by women in the home. Some spiritual leaders and followers believe they are special and above the law or above the morality taught by religion.

I know right from wrong and don’t need to believe that I’m being watched all the time and am on my way to burn in hell by default unless I follow a particular religion. Some examples that come to mind include Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. Jews, Muslims and Christians in Palestine. TV evangelicals and their affairs.  Catholics and 'residential' schools in Canada.  None of it is love or light, it’s just wanting to be right and to have more than someone else at any cost. 

The cure for not having or being enough isn’t to try harder, it’s to accept that we have enough and are enough. If you keep trying to amass more, it's colonization, capitalism, and stems from a sense of lack. People who have insecure relationship attachments (anxious or avoidant) often place emotional attachment on things and sometimes collect things to the point of hoarding in order to feel like they matter and are surrounded by reminders of how much they are loved, and good memories from things.  People who have secure attachment styles can let photos or memories remind them of the good times without needing to be surrounded by physical proof that someone 'gave them' something and that proves that they matter.  To learn more, Google 'object attachment' or 'hoarding' AND 'attachment theory.'

I am in awe of the miracles in nature: that a seed produces a giant redwood tree. That two cells merge and divide and produce animals including humans. I have a hard time believing that it’s a random happenstance or chance collision of dust particles. I suppose this makes me agnostic. Even as a child, I never sought an explanation of lightning in the form of the actions of an omniscient, omnipresent supernatural entity. I can’t even conceive of such an entity, let alone that an entity should be referred to using he/him pronouns or be three entities in one or immaculately conceived.  

My brain just doesn’t work that way, and I used to feel guilty and defective for not believing in God, the way, so many others did. I used to pretend to believe, but I could never explain my belief. If anything, it was more based in fear of being reprimanded and punished, or trying to fake it to make it and hope it would grow on me. Once I moved out on my own, I realized self determination, self policing, self motivation, and a community of chosen friends was a concrete alternative without pretending. 

One of the things I would like to explore more, is why so many Autistic people I know are atheists, agnostic, witches, mystical, deconstructing religion or rejecting organized religion altogether. Religious organizations have used 'conversion therapy' to traumatize people who are different, who are left-handed, who have 'marks' on their bodies, who look and act differently and who aren't heterosexual for ages.  Conformity.

Similar to 'conversion therapy,' 'behavioural 'therapy' is still used condition autistic people to hide their natural tendencies to move or stim, and to speak and appear more 'typical.' This causes trauma and shows up in Autistic adults as PTSD or C-PTSD.  

Both conversion therapy and behavioural therapy 'treatments' were developed by Ivar Lovaas.  To learn more Google 'conversion therapy' AND 'ABA' AND 'Ivar Lovaas.'

One of the theories I have come across for why Autistic people may is that our concept of self is fluid, so or our connection to self is amorphous, and therefore a connection to God (that some other people can feel) we cannot feel the same way. I cannot feel it, and I’m not going to lie. 

Another interesting finding is that Autistic people are more likely to be queer, trans, non-binary, asexual, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, than their allistic peers.  One theory is that humans are capable of loving every other human, but Autistic people are more likely to acknowledge it and less likely to deny it out of stigma. Autistics often end up in the roles of whistleblowers, black sheep, scapegoats and estranged because of this.  I can't remember where I read that but will come back and add the source when I find it. I'm fascinated by the 'why' behind the overlap of the Queer and Autistic communities and would love to work alongside researchers to study this as a community partner in research.

I’m curious, and I would like to learn more intellectually, but I will never wholeheartedly embrace a set of doctrines that are hundreds or thousands of years ago old and are misogynistic, dogmatic, patriarchal, transphobic or homophobic.

Before I take sides on a political issue or join a protest, I need to first immerse myself in learning, understand multiple perspectives, historical injustices, and typically side with the underdog not the oppressor.  Not all oppressors can see or recognize their privilege and if you try to educate them, they will often act offended and reject it.  Google DARVO.  Being a majority doesn't make it 'right.'

Conservative. Conformity. Christian. Coercion. Authoritarian. Control. Punishment. Morality. Judgement. Obedience. Enforcement. Discipline. Dismissive. Invalidating. Intolerant. Power. Hierarchical. Patriarchal. Emotionally repressed. Concerned with appearances. Status. Respect owed. Critical. Right-wing. Behaviourism. Domineering. Project and Deflect. Guarded. Obsessive. Paranoid. Distrustful. Enmeshed. Perfectionist. Fear. Obligation. Tradition. Misogyny. Homophobia.

These things seemed to go together in my world growing up.

Inclusive. Diversity. Different. Equality. Equity. Art. Creative. Caring. Empathetic. Healed. Emotionally literate. Collaborative. Non-judgemental. Authentic. Imperfect. Failing forward. Lifelong learning. Consent. Independent. Open. Validating. Tolerant. No pressure. Curiosity. Safety. Communication. Active listening. Respect earned.

These things are beginning to come together around me in the world I choose going forward.



  1. "Rigid belief systems do not prepare people for encounters with difference. When one believes there is only one right way, one Truth, then the options for dialogue are limited. And the fear of turning away from The Truth is very real."


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