Religion often seems to skew people's priorities, convincing them that inconsequential things are in fact the most important. The reasons for it being useful to convince people of this are varied, but they generally come back to benefiting someone in a position of power, however tenuous or limited that power. Why some people are willing to be convinced (or to convince themselves) that Certain Things must be done in Certain Ways, no matter how potentially damaging or degrading or even just laughable they are, remains an abiding mystery to me. I don't get it; my brain cannot be contorted into the necessary position* in order for me to comprehend. The Gods do not decree that humans must do this or that or the other thing; humans do. Humans create religious systems to meet their own needs, not the needs of any deity. The fact that human needs are very rarely altruistic where religion is concerned is merely the icing on a very unpleasant cake.
After our most recent run-in with some former co-religionists, these lessons have been reaffirmed in my mind. It made me angry when it happened, because it was a source of pain for people that I care deeply about, as well as being a source of great irritation to me--irritation because I resented having to turn even an iota of my attention to things that were ultimately so inconsequential. None of that shit matters, people. Socio-religious psychodrama serves to satisfy some sick craving in otherwise idle minds; and it is my reasoned and professional opinion that people need to get some damned hobbies rather than waste their time playing at amateur-hour cult leader. It's just--it's sad. I was reading someone else's blog the other day, and she spoke of being berated by a Christian god-shouter and how his desperation struck her as being so incredibly sad that she actually hugged the guy, and I think I understand that. I don't want to hug the former co-religionists--honestly, I'd really rather punch them in the face--but I do feel a certain pity for them. It is sad to see people wasting their time and their intelligence and their abilities on nothing. And at the end of it all, that's really what they're left with: nothing. Because none of the posturings and the pretensions and the pronouncements mean a damned thing in the end. The fate of nations does not rest thereon. Fire will not rain down from the sky because someone thinks someone else is doing something wrong. And no god worth the label would turn even a moment's notice to the ridiculous declarations humans make against their fellows in Their names.
So what does matter? Your friends. Your family. The people you love, and that love you. The condition of the planet on which we live, and what you do that impacts that. What moves you spiritually, which so rarely has anything to do with any particular religious system. I won't invoke the so-called "Wiccan Rede," because it's been done to death, but I will state that there is nothing at all wrong with being a good person, and minimizing the harm you do to others while living your life seems to me to be a reasonable thing. If your religion is requiring you to be an asshole, maybe you should rethink your religion.
* i.e. very very far up my ass.