Are all religions created equally? The church I grew up in would answer that question with, “Yes. As long as those beliefs are not doing harm to others.” Other churches would tell you quite differently and want to tell you that you are going to go to hell unless you believe what some man has decided is “the WORD.”
The last few days I’ve been rather disgusted by some of the things I’ve seen and read, said by “men of faith”. These range from calling for the creation of a Registry Of Atheist, comparing Atheists to terrorist, pedophiles, the KKK and more. More examples are those who are blaming homosexuality for the recent bursts of earthquakes and hurricane Irene.
Yeah… disgusted is an understatement to how I feel about such things. It makes me want to vomit. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, on any of my various social things, you will see me speaking out against religion, quite often. Because of this, many people assume I am an atheist. I’ve even received death threats as a result of this. And this is where some may be surprised to learn that I am not an atheist. I have a very strong faith. The church I grew up in played a huge role in shaping my current world views. And not in the way some may think.
I grew up in the United Church of Canada. I grew up in a church that has always been the center of great controversy for its very liberal and socialist views. We experienced a huge split in 1988 when we started to ordain openly homosexual ministers. The United Church testified in favour of gay marriage during the House of Commons Justice Committee hearings, when Canada was deciding whether or not to recognise gay marriage across the country, instead of leaving it up to individual provinces. The controversy does not end there.
The United Church helped draft dodgers from the US during the Vietnam War. During the 60s, the church took a pro-Palestinian stance. Over the residential school issues, it was the first to apologise and offer to make reparation, while the rest of the churches were trying to get out of their responsibility and live in denial. We had one Moderator (he’s kinda like the Pope but not) said that he did not believe Jesus literally rose from the dead; he believed that story was just another fancy metaphor, the same as the stories from the OT.
It is because of the church that I believe a women have the right to choose, premarital sex is not bad and is even encouraged, women should have the right to birth control and proper sex education, and the list can go on. God is both male and female, and hymns are sung to both aspects of the Divine. The church also taught me that all religions are equal, that the Holy Spirit is at work in all religions, we have a very limited understanding of what God is but choose to try and find some sort of understanding through Jesus. The bible is not to taken literally but is inspired by faith and written by man.
Very recently, the church came under more fire because we welcome Atheists as members of the church. Why? Not to convert. That has never been the churches role, except during the dark part of Canadian history when we had residential schools, but even then, we closed them soon after inheriting them from other denominations. The role of the church is to be a guide and to answer your questions in order to help you find the answers for yourself. In the United Church, faith is a very personal matter; it is a journey between the person of faith and their God, whatever that God may or may not be. Nobody has the ‘real’ answers. We all could have it wrong.
I am the first to admit that what I believe (I’m not a Christian, by the way. I label myself as an Abrahamic Spirtualist because the ‘big three’ resonate the most with me) could very well be wrong. There could very well be no God. I was never under the belief that Adam and Eve were “the first.” What I was taught was that in the Jewish faith, when giving the story of a family, you start so many generations before the person you are wanting to talk about. Because Abraham was the ‘father’ of the big three, the first to convert from poly to monotheism, you had to begin his story at Adam and Eve. They were not the first people but the first of this faith. This is even recognised in the OT when Cain leaves and finds “the others”, one of whom later becomes his wife. I think I am going off on a tangent again.
The point of all this? I just want to say that not all Christians are hateful and not all Christians believe you have to believe in Jesus to gain acceptance in Heaven or the afterlife or whatever you want to call it. There is a good number of us who are the first to admit, “We don’t know. We could be wrong. But we believe the lesson of Love taught by Jesus are valuable lessons. We will continue to have our faith until something demonstrates otherwise. Science and the law of your country come first. Faith is something else and very much a private relationship.”
It is because of this that I stand up for my Atheist friends. It is because of this that I stand up to anything where people are using their faith as an excuse to do harm to others or to refuse medical care, etc., for their children. It is because I’ve had Sunday School students come to me in tear, after I’ve encouraged them to spend a few Sundays in other churches, asking, “We were told we are going to hell because the United Church has fag ministers. Is this true?” that I speak out against such hate. No-one should ever be left in tears or feel guilt and shame because of who they are. That isn’t what Jesus taught me. Jesus taught me to love and accept every one.
Anyway, the point as I went on a tangent yet again, not all of us people of faith are bigoted and mean. A lot of us are quite secular and don’t care what you believe as long as it isn’t harmful. Unfortunately, because religion is such a political thing in the US, I find myself having to hide some of my beliefs. After seeing all the hate spewed these last few days, I just wanted to say that some of us are quite groovy and are fighting for the same things you are.
Also, if you are curious about the United Church of Canada, if you want more information, FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY, then read this fairly accurate wiki article on the United Church or ask a question in the comments and I’d be happy to discuss it, as long as you remember I’m sharing for information purposes only. I don’t want to change your beliefs and I don’t need you to change mine. I’m capable of changing my beliefs, on my own, as things are presented to me.
Also, anything hateful said, I will not respond to. I’ll leave them in the comments for the world to see, but I will not engage you in hateful or mean dialogue.