Are You There God? Its Me, Heather
My struggle with religion started long ago and I still see no end in sight.
The news was almost so ridiculous it could have been a parody. But the story about Lowe’s pulling its advertising from TLC’s All American Muslim was, in fact, real as rain. And though The Daily Show always seems to make me smile in spite of such disappointments, this is really quite a tragic example of our lack of progression in America. I don’t think I really need to explain why I find this entire situation more than revolting.
I have been thinking a lot about religion in general. And the story above just made it more prevalent in my mind.
For me, religion and spirituality are very different. I consider myself a pretty spiritual person. I read about near-death experiences and the afterlife. I believe in the concept of our consciousness surviving death. I believe we have souls and so do animals. I feel there has to be more than this; a higher being or purpose. I call the higher being God/Heaven. I pray. I believe in miracles. And while I have all these “beliefs” and “feelings” I cannot say that I have pure faith.
I also have a lot of issues with religion. The most “religious” people I have met in my life have also been the most judgmental and hateful. I could never reconcile their words and behavior with what I thought their doctrine represented. I realize my world is small and that there are, indeed, highly devout people who do live by their true teachings.
I, personally, could never believe in a God who would punish a person for loving someone. I could never believe in a God who sends people to eternal damnation for simply being raised in the “wrong” religion. I could never believe in a God who disregards people for not only their choices but also for their natural instincts.
I was told by a very “Christian” woman that my marriage was not real because my wedding was officiated by a gay minister in a Unitarian Church.
Recently a God fearing man told my friend that he hopes she burns in hell simply for having a different belief system.
I have listened to members of the National Association of Evangelicals and extremist Jihad Muslims claim that anyone who does not believe in their teachings is banished to hell.
I once had a righteous Baptist (not sure of the sect) tell me that my dead grandmother was in hell because she was not baptized.
Seriously?! Is this the way to recruit and sell your scripture? “Sign up or burn like the cretin you are!!” Please. I could never support such hate and intolerance.
But with that being said, I do admire those who have true faith. I was not brought up with any religion. I was baptized Lutheran to appease my father’s side of the family. My mother was baptized Methodist. Neither religion was ever practiced.
I went to Sunday school for a short time because it was right down the street. But I was put off at a very early age when I would see almost an animosity for kids whom did not bring offerings with them. I know we forgot several times and were made to feel pretty inferior.
See, I have this terrible phobia of death. Not just a regular ole fear of the unknown. I mean I am up late at night worrying and imagining and obsessing. I know there are reasons for my anxieties. But I often wondered if some kind of faith would pacify that need for proof and answers. I really don’t know.
So, basically, I am a woman who certainly wants to believe in something but at the same time, I am conscientiously against what most organized religions tend to stand for and/or represent. Perhaps I can form my own religion.
In the meantime, I will stick with my absolute knowledge that you do not have to be religious to be good and valued. You do not need a book or alter to confirm your morality. Because morals and faith are not mutually exclusive and you most certainly can have one without the other.