Organized religion

I will openly admit that I dislike organized religion. A person’s spirituality and connection to the divine should be personal, with no need of middlemen or interpreters such as prophets and clergy. Not only does this practice make a person’s connection with their god impersonal, but it also requires people to form their beliefs according to their religion’s views. There are so many belief systems around the world, why should you have to conform to fit the one you were ‘born’ into when you can instead choose another that fits what you already believe?

“Because my god tells me this is what I should believe/do” is likely to be one of the main arguments.

This baffles me. I cannot, for the life of me, understand this response. If my gods were to tell me that it is perfectly acceptable to be intolerant to a specific group of people because they are ‘inferior’, or harass/convert them because they were different from me, I would pretty much tell those gods to go screw themselves and cut all ties with them. Having a complete stranger tell me that my gods say this would be adding insult to injury. I chose to accept my patron because I wholeheartedly believe in what he believes, or at least believe that he will guide me to becoming a better person—not a prophet or a priest, nor a book of edicts and commandments, but that he himself would act as my mentor.

“Because my god tells me this is what I should believe/do” is usually accompanied by the unspoken statement, “…or else.”

I understand that monotheists are placed in a difficult situation by this phrase—they want to be safe from the wrath of their god, and have literally only two options—obey and hope for the rewards promised to them, or rebel and suffer eternally. All this really dwindles down to is rule by fear and force, and in my opinion, any entity (be it human or divine) who uses this method of control is not worthy of my time or respect.