Just Be Nice.
Let me preface by saying: I most likely support your beliefs. In fact, barring you believe in human suffering, I absolutely support your beliefs. My beliefs may differ from yours, but I can live in a world where we don't all see eye to eye. I hope you can too.
I grew up Christian. Sometimes we went to church. Sometimes we didn't. But church attendance aside, I believed in Christianity as a whole, and readily labeled myself as a Christian.
As I became an adult, I began to grapple with my beliefs. Like any good religious gal would do, when I began to question God, I would hightail it to church and do my best to immerse myself in faith.
It was 5-6 years ago when that stopped working. I had a breakdown. A meltdown. It took me several years to even understand my own set of beliefs. It was something I had to work through in therapy. It was - one of the most life altering moments of my existence.
You see, religion comes with some really great perks. It offers community. It offers a safety net. It offers guidelines and parameters. When you step away from it - you lose all those wonderful comforts.
I had to decide what I thought of my previous religion - what would happen if I was wrong? What about Jesus? Do I have a soul? Is there a heaven? A hell? But my biggest hurdle came from a deep indoctrination of my prior understanding of morality. If I'm not Christian, how can I be moral? What's stopping me from killing people and stealing and being bad???
Well folks, after years of sorting through my feelings, I finally have some answers.
I am moral, because I was born that way. I treat people with kindness because it FEELS GOOD. My life is better when I am kind. I don't want to be bad, because that feels bad. Morality is not religious - it's innate. I believe this is true in most people. (Exceptions always exist. There are some real nuts out there, unfortunately.)
Why is any of this important? Well, it shouldn't be. My beliefs affect you in exactly zero ways. As yours affect me. But the world is in a constant battle about religion. We try to MAKE one another believe what we believe. But we can't. Crack open a history book - this shiz ain't new.
I read an article today that was criticizing a potential presidential candidate because he is not actively involved in organized religion. Meanwhile, another presidential candidate is pretending to be - and it's a bunch of foolery. It seems that in order to win votes, we need to align with somebody just like "us". Americans think our president needs to be religious? Why? I just want our president to be a good guy - moral. And remember, for most of us, morality is innate. (Trump's moral status is anyone's guess. Just kidding! Maybe!)
I have never publicly shared that I am not religious. A few people close to me know. But I usually smile and nod and keep silent. I mean, I live in the South. I'm the odd bird. Plus I homeschool, so people tend to come up with their own conclusions. But. Here's the thing - while not a perfect person, I wholeheartedly believe in equality. In kindness. In caring and supporting ALL people. Even people different than me. Maybe especially people that are different than me. I think the way Jesus lived - embracing and accepting and LOVING people, the good, bad, and broken - is the best way to live. But I don't consider myself Christian. (Though I do have a great fondness for Christ.)
On the flip side ... I know some very religious people. The kinds of people who pray before every meal, and lift their hands high in worship. They check off every box in the evangelical Christian category, and have done some incredible things in the name of their respective church. But. They also spout some of the most vile and hate fueled comments than have ever fallen upon my ears. Comments that do not support the basic ideology of Christ - of people different than them. You know what? That speaks louder than any of their prayers do. I'm not saying these are awful people (maybe just awful moments. And goodness, I've sure had my own!) - perhaps I'm being an asshole for calling it out ... but - I once heard going to church every Sunday doesn't make you any more Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car. That is true for any religion, bee tee dubs.
Let me stress that I just used myself, a non religious person as the "good" example. And a very religious person as a "bad" example. That's super crappy of me, but I am trying to make a point.
The point being: Religion doesn't make you a good person. It also doesn't make you a bad person. I know INCREDIBLE people on both sides. Shout out to my Grandma and Burchette! ❤️ There's good and bad on every side and in every belief system. Duh!
But, in case you don't know anybody who isn't religious: Non religious folk aren't bad. It doesn't mean immoral. It really shouldn't matter to you, so long as they act justly - it's simply a personal belief. A personal detail. It should be about as important to you as eye color. Mine are brown. Yours might be blue. Comme ci, comme ça.
And side bar, in case you're dying to know what I believe in: I don't need a title. But if you do, let's go with "spiritual". I believe in God. And I believe he wants me to be good, and not bad. So that's what I try to stick to. I could be wrong about everything, but I choose to believe that should I find myself at the pearly gates, knowing my heart and the life I've lived, God will still let me in.