I don't consider myself to be a religious person, and I have, in fact, always hated the word. Over time, this hate has spread to the point that I despise religion in general, and have thoroughly broken away, internally at least, from any vestige of it. I continue, however, to love God and Jesus, and I continue to believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God (don't you just love capitalizing random things that are related to God?) and that salvation through Jesus is a very real necessity for those wishing to avoid Hell.

Yet I'm not "religious" at all, and in fact despise the word and concept. For starters, let's look at the definition of "religious":

1. Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity.
2. Of, concerned with, or teaching religion: a religious text.
3. Extremely scrupulous or conscientious: religious devotion to duty.

Okay, so the first definition fits me perfectly, actually; in almost every modern context, however, the second two definitions are the most commonly-used, even if not on a conscious level. It is the second two definitions which most definitely do not apply to me: I do not concern myself with religion, for reasons I'm about to get into, and I have no "religious devotion", nor am I extremely scrupulous or conscientious.

When one says "religious", the second two definitions are almost always what come to mind, for those both inside and outside of the matter, and that is why I hate religion: it clouds the core issue, the concept around which it is centered, and it replaces God with traditions and rituals and proverbs and teachings and whatnot, and it provides an easy target for those who oppose it.

Truly, nearly every argument imposed against religion is imposed against just that - religion. People will talk about the harm some monk or pope or other has done, blaming all of Christianity on it; people will talk about how religion is a creation of man and thus cannot possibly hold spiritual value; people will call followers of religion mindless sheep who don't even bother to think about what they believe. All three may in some ways be true, but such arguments don't bother me, because I adhere to no religion. I adhere only to God.

God is not a creation of religion or man; He is an omnipotent deity who created the universe we know, and is thus not bound by the temporal or the physical. Those demanding to know where He came from are missing the point - things only need have been created in this temporal universe of ours, which God created and thus exists beyond. That is the God I believe in, the God who inspired men to write His Word, the God who came to earth in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, and the God who created and loves every single human on this planet, no matter what their sins, crimes, or beliefs.

I'm no mindless sheep; I interpret the Bible myself rather than relying on a pastor or priest or pope to do so. I attend church only because I find other like-minded believers there, not because it is a religious organization. I have found others who, even if they haven't put it into words, clearly follow God above any manner of religion, but sadly, I've found those who are caught up in the rituals and proverbs of it all, who are, just like any unbeliever who attacks the religion rather than the God for which it was created, missing the point entirely.

As a follower of God - not a Christian, Catholic, Baptist, or Protestant - I need answer for the actions of no pope, nor the atrocities of those who have killed or destroyed in the name of religion. And I most certainly needn't answer such questions as, "Don't you think it's arrogant, believing your religion is the only true one?" I don't follow religion - I follow God.

As the book of Romans says, "He who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." That's all it takes - not baptism or church membership or some ritual. You needn't follow any religion to reach Heaven.