Greetings all! Long time no hear from, right? Life has been keeping me busy, but I’m trying to return to blogging somewhat regularly. Today I’d like to talk about a topic that been bouncing around in my head for quite some time recently: Religion.
So some friends that know me may or may not have noticed recently that I’ve been rather anti-religion. This isn’t actually anything really “new,” it’s just largely been provoked and re-awakened by life recently. I’ve been fortunate enough (and by that I mean unfortunate enough) to have more dealings lately with uber-religious people than usual. And all of those dealings have been closed-minded and ignorant.
Just a little personal background. I was raised a Baptist Christian. My parents made me get up for church every Sunday morning. I did the whole Bible Study thing when I was younger because mum thought it would be good for. Basically I’m the product of two God-loving/fearing faithful Christians. I’ve always been skeptical, going back at least as far as my preteen years, maybe longer than that. When I was younger than that, I always looked at the Bible with this, “How could this stuff really happen?” mentality. It seemed like an amusing work of fiction, great propaganda for trying to get people to think a certain way. I swear I actually, at one point in my life, thought church was just the weekly amusement for my family, kind of akin to the weekly tradition of Sunday afternoon football. I didn’t realize way back then the extent to which people just ate this stuff up as absolute.
So naturally I grew older and more skeptical, but of course I’d continue to go because my parents want me to learn morals and stuff (and because I technically couldn’t disobey them and not go to church because I’d be grounded for a week or something). Enter: college. One of my first weekends there, I tried to go to a church close to the college with a couple of friends. Complete torture. It was a southern Baptist Church, but the traditions were all weird. I guess we picked a Sunday where they were ordaining new deacons or something after the sermon, so members of the congregation went up and greeted them and did whatever, I don’t know, it felt the Catholic church or something. (*note: Dad was raised Catholic originally, so I’ve been to Catholic church services before… total snoozefest. Go for the experience, but definitely not recommended in regular doses.) So we were up and out of there faster than Sarah Palin at an Obama rally. (Weird analogy… what would Sarah Palin be doing at an Obama rally in the first place?) BUT I digest…
Anywho, we were required to take religion classes at the college. I took Old Testament, as well as New Testament (the basics, pretty much everyone chooses to take those two). I also, in my final semester of college, decided to voluntarily take a third religion class, World Religions, because the topic actually legitimately interested me. But anyroad, it was in those first two classes where I firmly found my anti-religion stance. Studying the Bible, studying those Books, dissecting and analyzing the context, meanings, inconsistencies all present in the book made me realize firmly that Christianity was NOT for me.
Bible thumpers LOVE throwing verses of scripture out and telling you how you’re going to Hell because you are gay or have a different belief system than others. And yet at the same time, they love to preach about how their God loves and accepts all mankind. Um… confused much?
“God loves you! He loves you!” ”I’m gay. I thought being gay was a sin in the Bible?” ”It is but if you repent for your sins, God will forgive you!” “Wait, so you’re saying your God made me a certain way, gave me the ability to believe what I want to believe and feel the way I want to feel, but in the end, he wants me to… apologize for all of that, just so that I can go to Heaven?” “… Yes!” *facepalm*
And… that’s about how it goes.
Listen, I have some very dear friends to my heart who are ultra-religious. But for the most part, they’re not super in my face about it. Except a certain select few, which worries me. Certain people I’ve always thought to be raised pretty well, and have good heads on their shoulders. They’ve always seemed pretty reasonable. And then we have a conversation in which they denounce beliefs that don’t line up with theirs because “The Bible says it’s wrong!” You have to look at stuff in the context in which it was written. Your Bible also says it’s okay to sell your daughter into slavery (which was socially acceptable back then). That’s great that you know your Bible verses, but that doesn’t give you the right to judge ANYONE. No, I can’t spout every verse from Psalms off the top of my head, but the ability or inability to do so doesn’t make me any better or worse than anyone else.
The strength of my character makes me who I am, not my adherence to any one religion.
When I look around and see all of these conflicts and wars today in parts of the world than many people can’t even pronounce correctly, if they’ve heard of them at all, what is at the root of a lot of them? Religion. You can believe what you want, but if you’re going to talk about acceptance, have to be tolerant of others. And so many people who follow their “God” are just ignorant and intolerant. Plain and simple. The world will never be at peace as long as we have so many people that are unable to accept others as they are. I have dear friends who call every Muslim a “towel-head.” Well forget that, some of my best friends are Muslims. I mean, one of the first women I ever deeply cared about was a Muslim woman. I teach students who are Hindu and Buddhist. I know so many different kinds of people in the world, and I could just never fathom hating any of them because they have a different belief system than I do. I would much rather seek to understand their beliefs than outright shun (and at its core, THAT was my main reason for taking that World Religions class in my final semester of college).
Overall, I’m just… way too accepting of others to follow any one religion. If I choose to believe in a God, I’ll believe in a God who truly loves all of mankind, and accepts everyone for who they are, no matter what they believe. And that’s where my Faith will lie.
You don’t have to have a religion to have a God.
Until next time…