10/04/2017 01:58 SAST | Updated 10/04/2017 01:58 SAST

Even As I Became Less Religious, I Held Onto My Spirituality

It is only now I realise that they refused to question the dogma because it gave them a sense of belonging; a sense of calm in all the calamity.

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In order to maintain a level of sanity in society, one needs to adopt a certain level of stoicism – particularly in matters concerning religion.

You see, I was brought up in a fiercely religious family that also practiced ancestral rituals. I regarded that as the norm. I knew no better.

Like most kids my age, I knew of God and I knew of Satan; I knew of a heaven and I also knew of a hell. I knew of the Virgin Mary who gave birth to Baby Jesus and I knew that baby Jesus grew up to perform many miracles which in turn made people angry with Him and conspire to kill him.

I knew that He died on the cross for my sins. I knew of the exact dates of most commercial Christian holidays.

This is what I was taught and it is how I continued to live until I realised, "Hey, wait a minute. My brain can actually think for itself!"

I began to question every religious concept I was ever fed. I questioned the existence of God and whether he had a form (oddly enough, I still acknowledged that the devil was among us –wearing a different face like a piece of clothing depending on which day of the week it was). I questioned the accuracy of the Holy Book and why it seemed to always contradict itself.

I questioned the need for so many religions and why one regarded itself more superior to the other. I questioned why Jesus was always portrayed as a Caucasian and why there was never any mention of the black man in the scriptures.

Eventually, all the questioning turned into a big ball of confusion and my life and everything I had ever based my beliefs on spiralled out of control.

It didn't help that the people responsible for feeding me this organized doctrine responded to my questions with exasperation and a partially blank, partially stunned expression on their face. The common response to my question became "You're a heathen" and I naturally retorted with rebellion: 'Well then, better a heathen than an ignoramus who follows what he himself does not understand."

I swear it seemed like a lot of them dared not question their beliefs for fear of being struck with a violent lightning from heaven. It is only now I realise that they refused to question the dogma because it gave them a sense of belonging; a sense of calm in all the calamity. I can't hold it against them, but it made me reject religion as nothing more than hogwash used to brainwash us human beings into submission.

I stopped referring to myself as a Christian and figured I'd just be spiritual instead.

Ahead of Easter 2017, The Huffington Post South Africa is delving into what faith and spirituality means to South Africans here and now. Against the backdrop of a renewed wave of thought around decolonisation, a new generation are rediscovering their traditional beliefs, while some are reconciling with Christianity. And on another note, we tell South Africa's real good news story: our remarkable and peaceful religious diversity. In a world fractured along religious extremism, we have a large Christian population with significant Muslim and Jewish communities, who often come together peacefully and with purpose, as has been evinced at the memorials for departed struggle stalwart, Ahmed Kathrada. Read the rest of the special report here, or choose from our selection below:

27 Quotes By Desmond Tutu On Faith, Justice And Love