Monday, March 7, 2016

my two no-no's: religion and politics

I’m reluctant to talk about two things, religion and politics, unless I know I’m in agreement with the other person. Today, though, I’m talking about both, to whoever reads this. 

It doesn’t matter to me whether you do or do not believe in God. I respect your choice, and I ask that you respect mine. 

I was raised Roman Catholic, but there were years when I didn’t believe in God; there were many other years when I believed in God but distrusted organized religion. 

And then I discovered the Episcopal church: theologically the same as Roman Catholic and therefore familiar — but (equally important to me) in line with my social beliefs. Women can be priests. Everyone is welcome. A marriage is between two loving people. 

So now I find myself in this funny place. I believe in God. (But I didn’t always, and I still remember cringing when I would hear someone say “God.”) I consider myself an Episcopalian. I’m deeply drawn to my church and my faith. I consider myself Christian. 

Did you feel that? Did you see me cringe? The label “Christian” has such negative connotations. Narrow- or closed-minded. Judgmental. Intolerant. 

Nevertheless, I believe in Jesus Christ, and I am a Christian. Moreover, my God is a loving God. My God teaches love above all else. I will no longer be silent and allow a vocal group that is not founded on love to speak for me and my faith.

One of the interesting things in my faith journey has been figuring out how my faith intersects with my everyday life. My parents taught me many important lessons, but the one that I think I most took to heart was, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” 

It turns out this ties in beautifully with my faith. I always thought the “What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD)” movement was hokey — but you know, I think I get it now. How would Jesus respond to people who lie, or react out of fear rather than love? What would he say about corporate greed and the privileged gaining more privileges while less fortunate workers lose ground? If we could talk to Jesus, how would we explain politicians that place more value on beating the other party than on caring for the citizens who elected them?

I believe we best serve God by being the best person we can be. (If you don't believe in God, you can say I believe we best serve our higher selves by being our best.) When I look around my country, I see too many people reacting to fear with hatred. Regardless of your faith, will you choose love or hate? 

I choose love.