I'm going to try to analyze every religion that I have had a connection with. Regardless of being part of that faith or not. I will go by chronological order, starting from my earliest experiences to what just recently happened.
First of all, I have to say, that I was not raised religiously. When I discovered my own unique faith, I was at a crossroads with religion. My mom used to say, "I wish I would have got you baptized" but she no longer says this. This is due to the fact that she is no longer Christian. Both of my parents were Catholics growing up, and became atheists later in life.
Regarding me, however, most of my spiritual progress has occurred in my adult life. I've been in intimate conversations with Christians, most of which were Protestants. I consider Protestant like a hardcore version of Christianity. During my college years I spent some time talking to Christians and realizing that I could never click with them, no matter how much I tried to make a compromise between us. I read parts of the Bible and didn't understand all the hype. Old Testament: "Do this, or don't do this, or you'll end up in Hell." New Testament: "Believe in Jesus or you'll end up in Hell." Yep, that's my rough translation of the Bible.
In the college years, I spent some time with Christians. For example, a Christian group on my campus asked us to fill out a questionnaire regarding God. I don't remember the whole thing, but I remember the last part. It stated, "If you could ask God one thing, what would it be?" I thought about it for ten seconds and wrote: "Why haven't you revealed yourself to us?" My college friends would get me to have discussions with religious Christians and I would piss them off. I even went to a retreat where they talked about the Bible and how sinful everything is. I couldn't relate any of that to me or my situation.
Post-college years I've been focusing my efforts on three spiritual aspects: the Unitarian Universalists, the Baha'i Faith, and finally, my own faith. I've discovered UUism and the Baha'is when I was doing research on the Internet.
The Unitarian Universalists were always an interesting concept to me. Take a bunch of people, no matter what they believe in, put them in the same church together, and see what happens. Unfortunately, the more I got involved in this faith, the more disappointed I've become. For instance, there isn't a Unitarian holy book, just pamphlets and novels that go depth from the faith. Their "Six Sources" and "Seven Principles" are borderline religious, but nobody ever really wants to talk about them; unless, of course, you talk to the minister. I became a member of my local Unitarian church, none of the ceremony had really anything to do with modern Unitarianism - most of what you learned was information on past Unitarians and Universalists. I joined two groups at my church. One focusing on young adults and the other focusing on spiritual connection. I couldn't even talk about talking about any of my own faith with either, and I could tell I was making people feel uncomfortable by discussing it. They don't like to talk about God, or the afterlife, or morality, or anything remotely religious. So how can Unitarian Universalism be called a religion? On top of that, I'm also a conservative-libertarian Republican and found myself shaking my head over all the liberal things the religion supports. Common core, polyamory awareness, pro-choice, man-made global warming. I do agree with them about gay marriage, but I can also understand why homosexuality would be viewed as something that is "unnatural". Needless to say, I left that faith.
The Baha'i Faith is interesting. It's sort of a cross between Islam and Christianity. Like Christianity it has a savior, Baha'u'llah, but it still follows many of the oligations of Islam, such as fasting and daily prayers. There was about a week where I considered myself a fully-pledged Baha'i. I recited prayers, read books, worshipped in the name of Baha'u'llah, and I could feel God's presence and my own soul "awaking up"... I think that's what they were going for. Then my friend, who is devoutly Christian, said, "Maybe I helped you become a Baha'i because I knew Baha'is are also Christian." Which made me feel like a fool for being his friend. The facade was clear to me after that. I have had intimate conversations with Baha'is that were interviewing me to become part of the faith. I got my own plastic card through the mail and like the Unitarians the Baha'is also have their own magazine. This is going to sound strange, but despite all of this, I cannot call myself Baha'i. Yes, I did feel what seemed to be God's presence and my soul aflame but logically I cannot follow it. I do view Baha'u'llah as a great person of his time, but unlike other people in the faith I don't feel bad when I'm "doing my own thing" and not "being close to God". In fact, I like both feelings. Being close to God with the writings of Baha'u'llah makes me feel alive, whereas doing other, secular things makes me feel ... alive too. Even though I left the religion, for good, I picked up a hardcover of Gleanings, a series of writings from Baha'u'llah translated and sorted by his grandson, Shoghi Effendi.
Then there is my own faith. My own faith means a lot to me. I've come very far since my first attempts at self-religion. I would like to cultivate my own faith even farther, and write a spiritual book in the processes. I have a lot to say and so few words to express them. I've created my own website and a NRM Wikia article. NRM stands for New Religious Movement and the Wikia allows people with unique spiritual beliefs create their own "religion". Talking to me therapist has really helped with this process too. He helps me define things that I cannot get to by myself. I have a concept of God, of the afterlife, on wrong-doing, and more. I have specific holidays, symbols, everything that a new religion should have to cultivate itself. But I am not a people-person. My religion does not appeal to my heart, as the Baha'i Faith does, it appeals to my cold, logical brain. Like monism, type-physicalism. Someone on here said I have less of a religion than just a series of hopeful wishes (not verbatim). This religion is very, very similar to the Terasem Movement Transreligion. In fact, in many cases both religions are identical. I tried becoming a member of Terasem ... I made a video, filled out a membership form, went to their Second LIfe hangout, e-mailed them, and even called them, and I still haven't heard back from them. It's very disappointing too, I like Terasem/Exaltism (my own faith) but there is no actual community to get involved with. Terasem only has 32,000 followers. And my faith ... well you know that.
So, I've just revealed almost everything about my own experience with the religions I've come across.
I don't want this thread to be a critique of my critique of religions that I've come across. I want this thread to be an open-discussion about you and everybody else's experience with religions and spirituality. Many people get different impressions of religions depending on who they talk to.
How would you critique your experiences with religion?