I have grown up somewhat religious and belong to a religion that many people see as more fundamental, and weird, than most. There have been many discriminations I have had to overcome to be seen as just a normal person and not that girl who belongs to that weird church. Growing up in the South, everyone is some religion or the other. You’ll get invited to more churches than you can shake a stick at.
Come to this church for the youth activity!
Come to this church for the band on Sunday!
Come to this church for the rock-climbing wall!
The list goes on. One church tries to one-up the other church in what it can offer its parishioners, not something my church really takes part in as it is one of the more fundamental religions out there in many respects.
Religion has been a big part of my life and at times my religion was strictly adhered to. I had certain opinions that only the most zealous members of my religion might have. I saw things in only one light, when there were, in fact, many lights. I was very unmoving in some of my opinions for many years and my inability to be swayed led me to believe some people might be less because their religion was different.
Let me tell you something– nobody is less because of their religion.
Religion is not exclusionary; religion is inclusive, theoretically. At least that’s what our doctrine says. Our doctrine says, as Christians, that we are supposed to open our arms to anybody and everybody. We are to share what we have whether it’s knowledge, food, warmth, or good-will to any other person who could call themselves a human-being.
Too often religion is seen as a way to exclude people and make a person feel superior. The place I learned this most explicitly in life was from my ex.
My ex is a very religious person, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it really isn’t, but he used religion to make himself feel superior. To him, there was only one way to do something. Only one. You were supposed to do X; you were supposed to do Y; you were supposed to do Z. You did not do ZYX and nor did you do ABC. You did what was prescribed, in the manner that it was prescribed. That’s fine and dandy, but life doesn’t always turn out like that.
As time went on in my life and marriage, I came to realize that saying you’re of a certain religion doesn’t really mean a whole lot. You could say, “I’m a Baptist,” or, “I’m Catholic,” or, “I’m Amish,” but unless you back this up with action it doesn’t mean a whole lot. Unless you’re espousing and practicing the teachings of your said religion, I wouldn’t exactly call you a Baptist or a Catholic or an Amish person. I would say you were just a person, no different from the rest of us really. We’re all fallible. We’re all human.
There were things about my religion that I decided that I didn’t like and there were also things I have no opinion of one way or the other. I can be a very logical person and in some instances I want something that points to something else to prove a thing.
My ex was not at all happy with my reluctance to perform some of the practices of our religion. Even if he wasn’t doing XYZ on a given day, I was still supposed to do XYZ. I was supposed to be infallible in my faith. Because of his exclusionary tendencies, things became worse and worse. I was accused of essentially going wild, when I did nothing of the sort. I was accused of some awful things. In his mind, if I had done, or had not done, this one small thing, surely I had also done this big bad thing.
Just because a person eats a M&M does not mean they’re going to go out and eat an entire chocolate cake.
My analogy may seem silly, but the situation I was in was silly.
Just because one thing happens, or doesn’t happen, doesn’t mean that all Hell is literally going to break loose. In real life, stuff happens. No one is perfect.
This so-called religious man used religion to belittle me and treat me in a way that a “Christian” has been taught against. More specifically, he treated me in a way the shared religion we had taught against. These were not the actions of a religious person.
What astounded me the most about this whole situation is that another person was treating me so badly. What astounded me even further is it was a person who was supposed to love me treating me so badly. What astounded me even further than that is that this person was so adamant about religion, but he was still treating me in an awful manner and used teachings of love and family to belittle me even further.
As a result of this whole thing, I don’t have a ton of faith in people who go around saying that they’re faithful. I need proof that someone is faithful. If you want me to believe that you believe, you need to follow through with the teachings of your prescribed religion. If you’re Catholic, be a Catholic. If you’re Baptist, be a Baptist. If you’re Buddhist, be a Buddhist. Take the teachings of your religion and live them. Be kind to everyone. Give what you can. Act in a manner that your God(s) would be proud of.
Ultimately, we’re all in this together and if we just treat each other how we would want to be treated, something good is bound to happen no matter what religions we may or may not practice.