Today, I want to talk about religion. Specifically, I want to talk about Christianity as an organized religion.
Let me begin by giving a brief history of myself and religion:
I was raised Catholic until I was about seven years old. I made my first communion and went to catechism (PS. I had to google for so long to figure out how to spell that word).
When I was seven, my parents switched our family from a catholic church to a non-denominational christian church. I won’t go into great detail about what the differences are between the two, but do feel free to do some research of your own if you’re curious.
Throughout all of grade school and into college, I considered myself very religious. I went to church every Sunday. And Christianity guided my decisions- who I had serious friendships with, who I considered dating, who I voted for in elections, etc. When I was eighteen, I went to a rally for Mike Huckabee; he had cast his first bid for the 2008 presidential election. I voted for John McCain in 2008. I did both of those things because I felt they aligned with my christian values.
In 2009, I moved away to Michigan State University. It is at this time that many folks in my life would say the liberal education system brainwashed me. However, I say- it is at this time, that my world view- my bubble- was first challenged.
I am a critical thinker. I am a philosopher. I like to know WHY I believe something. I am not someone that will listen to my parents, a church, my professor, or a mentor simply because they are an authority figure or someone I look up to. I have always been someone to question myself- and not in a way where I doubt my abilities or knowledge- but to challenge myself to consider ALL possibilities, all ideas. I am not loyal without question to anyone or anything. But I had very limited opportunities to explore, question, and learn as a child and young adult. I was surrounded by one worldview: at church, at home, and at my christian school. So going away to college was liberating; it was also information overload. I cried a lot, challenged myself, thought differently, questioned everything I had ever learned, and molded into a new person. *insert cliche: “i found myself in college” quote*
Today, I am not sure what I believe in terms of religion, in terms of god. And now is the first time I have publicly written about this. In part I haven’t written about this because I know how much it hurts my mom to know I am not sure. And also because I am someone that does not deal well with ambiguity. And I truly just don’t know what I believe. And I am coming to terms with the fact that that is OK. I will say-I do pray sometimes; it brings me peace. And as someone that struggles with anxiety, I will continue to do anything that brings me peace even if I am not sure I fully understand it.
Ok, so now that we have a brief history of me and my relationship with religion, I want to talk about what I do know and what I do struggle with within Christianity as an organized religion. Maybe this will help people see where I come from, why I have the worldview I do, and why I am so critical of christianity as an organized religion.
I don’t want to go too deep into history because I don’t have the stamina for that kind of research right now. I will say that my grade school education failed to properly and honestly educate me about the history of christianity and atrocities that christians have committed. Sidenote: I KNOW that christians are not the only ones that committed religious atrocities. I get it. But that is what I am talking about now. Let’s talk about colonization and the role of christianity- Indian boarding schools, cultural genocide, etc. WHY didn’t I learn about that? Why did everything I learn shine christianity in a positive light?
So there is my first issue: historically, christians have committed atrocities “in the name of god” and I just CAN’T get on board with that.
I can’t get on board with missionary work. I abhor the concept. First of all, it is usually white missionaries going to non-white regions of the world and shoving their beliefs, ideals, and values down another group of peoples throats. I get that the intentions MAY be good- PERHAPS even out of love. I just don’t support it. Often we have white christian youth going to an African country and “working” in an orphanage for a week or two to “spread the word” and then they leave. And little to nothing is done to learn from said group of people or about their culture! It is more of a “feel good” “volunteer” experience. Again, I can’t.
I find so many hypocrisies in christianity that it literally turned me away from the church. I feel that love has been lost in the church. I can’t sit through a sermon in a church anymore. I have tried and I have had to get up and walk out. Last time I was in a church years ago, the pastor was talking about how we had to fear the word tolerance. You see, christianity is an evangelical religion; so there is no accepting of other faiths or perspectives. And I find concern in not being able to value or appreciate different faith perspectives. It is quite literally my job to do just that.
I have written a couple of poems about my feelings re: hypocrisy within the christian faith and would like to share them here:
If I peeled open your heart
what would I find
would I find layers of love
reflecting the king you say you love so
You and your tattooes
And your divorces
And your hair cuts
And your masturbation
And your fornication
And yet you
With your hate
And your judgement
And your superiority
And yet you
Are no different than a pharisee
I HATE when Christians cherry pick what is wrong and what isn’t to justify their actions, their hate, etc. Who knows what I am talking about? We ALL know someone who does this. Heaven knows I do.
I understand that I am making generalizations. I understand…NOT ALL christians. I know that are actually some churches that have gay pastors and fight for social justice. And to those folks, I say, rock on.
But for now I am going to generalize based on MY experience within christianity and personal relationships with christians.
You know I love bulleted lists, so here we go- here is a list of issues I have within the religion:
- treatment of the LGBT community
- hate or simply a lack of love towards non-christians- let’s talk about christians blowing up planned parenthoods, denying assistance or entry (via votes even) for refugees, treatment towards Muslims. Hate is one of my biggest issues with modern day christianity. I don’t feel the love. Almost every christian I know perpetuates Islamophobia and Homophobia. Almost every Christian I know voted for Donald Trump. I won’t go off on a tangent here because I have already written about how hateful Trump is and how dangerous his rhetoric is…which is WHY it is so concerning to me that Trump won the christian vote in a landslide. Let me ask one question and just chew on this: how is baking a cake for a gay wedding supporting gay marriage but voting for a racist isn’t supporting racism???
- I can’t stand when christians say they are being targeted in the US. This usually equates in my head to- “the US is becoming more religiously diverse and we [christians] are no longer the majority (even though they are) and we fear being the minority. I cannot with “the war on christmas.” Like, y’all need to calm down. I work at an interfaith center where many of the people do not celebrate christmas personally and everyone that saw me around christmas wished me a merry christmas. No one is trying to take away your holiday. No one is trying to erase your religion. Being more inclusive of other religions and ways of life does NOT mean erasing yours. There’s room for us all. Chill.
- Also, I find it hilariously ironic that christians say they are under attack when their religious values are seen everywhere, especially in our public policies. Separation of church and state? Doesn’t exist. It is a complete hoax. Remember Kim Davis? Refusing to complete her job by signing marriage licenses for same sex couples because of her religious identity? Where is the separation of church and state there? If you’re working for a PRIVATE company and you want to deny goods or a service to someone based on your religion, fine. I get that and I simply won’t support your business. However, if you are a PUBLIC servant or work at a PUBLIC company, you should honor the LAW and not impose YOUR PERSONAL values on others. I.E. Kim Davis, Hobby Lobby & birth control, etc. Separation of church and state is a joke. Christian values are seen everywhere in our policies and laws, which is why it KILLS me when christians say they are under attack.
- Denial of climate change. Literally. Almost every christian I know denies climate change. They think it is a hoax and that everything that is happening is “part of god’s plan.” And therefore, they are idly watching as our planet literally dies. Again, I can’t. Denial of science is not cute.
In no way, shape, or form do I want to come across as hateful. Mad, yes. I am mad. I am mad at what the church is and has become. Maybe it was always this way and I can now just see it? Again, I know there are some christians that are very different from the above descriptions- Mennonites, Quakers, and universalists- like I can usually get down with y’all.
I just cannot get down with hate, with judgement, with intolerance, etc.
I ask anyone reading this to question themselves. When you die, will you be remembered as someone that loved- and loved all? Because that is the only legacy I want to leave in this world. I want to be remembered as someone that loved everyone with open arms.
How will people remember you?