“We read the Bible how we want to read it. It doesn’t change, but we do.“YAA GYASI
Listen, I’m not here to rain on anyone’s post-Easter parade, but I think it’s about time we had a little chat about religion.
Possibly my least favourite topic this side of “heaven”.
Ugh, where do I even start? This is certainly going to be a divisive topic, one that I’m not even sure I should be entering into, but my heart won’t let me not talk about it…so here we go.
I used to think of myself as quite an easygoing person when it came to religion. I was raised Catholic, not because my parents gave a flying fig about going to church or reading me the Bible, but because my dad is Italian and raising your kids Catholic, sending them to a school where they have to wear a uniform and attend mass every month (even if they want to gouge their eyes out during the hour long ceremony and see it more as an opportunity to socialize with their friends from other classes) is the done thing. I knew deep down that my father didn’t buy into all that Catholic crap I was being taught in religion class, but my brother and I sucked it up and got through 4 years of chapel singalongs.
Then, I went off to university in the great big city of Toronto and I said, “Farewell, Jesus & Co. – peace be with you, etc. etc.” Around this same time, my dad was coming out in the world as a hardcore atheist, and I wanted to give myself the chance to really understand what being religious meant, while opening up my ears, eyes and heart to the other religions out there. I made friends in university who were Jewish, Muslim and everything in between, but the more I heard about their beliefs, the less I could make sense of them. Fast forward to my Master’s, and I fell in love with a man from Iran who was raised Muslim but no longer practiced any religion. Suffice it to say, if we had children together in the future, they weren’t going to be Muslim, or Catholic for that matter. I was falling wayyy out of love with religious institutions I had never even liked to begin with, and my skepticism about these so-called holy books and institutions was through the roof. If university is a place of learning and enlightenment, my newly educated brain was telling me what my heart had known for years: that all this religious talk was, quite frankly, bullshit. The Bible was written by humans, wasn’t it? And so why should I give it more credence than, say, Oliver Twist, a book by a much more talented author if you ask me?
I tried to keep my dissension silent and internal, though, because I didn’t feel it was my place or responsibility to rock Noah’s boat. I do believe that everyone has a right to practice whatever religion they choose to (or none at all), so I operated on the principle that if it gives someone comfort to believe in God, more power to ‘em.
Until recently, when something in me has pretty well snapped. I’m all for enjoying your religious beliefs and practices…that is, until you decide to condemn me or anyone I care about. I can stay silent about thinking that religious institutions are money-hungry enterprises out to create violence and division among citizens of the world, but only if YOU will stay silent about the “sin” you believe those who don’t practice your religion are engaging in. When a religious person or institution starts to criticize the choices of people I love and hold dear, well then, we’re going to have a BIG problem.
So, when Pope Francis decided to come out recently and declare same-sex relationships a sin, my blood started to boil. Never mind the fact that I have many friends who identify as LGBTQ – I also have a young son and, so help me, he WILL be allowed to love whoever he wants to, without fear. Pope Francis and his hypocritical Vatican that doesn’t even condemn the pedophiles living behind its doors can honestly kiss my *** if they think I’m going to stay quiet while they spout hateful garbage. I believe no force is stronger on this planet than True Love, so if two males or females want to love each other, you better believe I am going to support that ’til my heart bleeds.
Then, only days later, I’m scrolling through my phone and read that a court in Arkansas has declared that trans youth in their state can be denied health care, and that doctors can refuse services to these patients on the basis of “religious objections”. When I say that I felt like my brain was seeping out of my ear while reading that, I am being a bit dramatic, sure, but mostly truthful. I immediately got a headache reading that news and felt sick to my stomach. What type of vile world do we live in where human beings can be denied their basic, fundamental rights because a professional who is supposed to believe in science decides to believe in some outdated holy book instead? Oh my word, what an absolute f***ing joke. How can I, the opinionated person that I am, stay silent in the face of that bigotry?
A lot of religious people out there would also say that my one and a half year old son is at risk of going to Hell because he hasn’t been baptized. To those people I say that I would rather party downstairs with Satan himself than believe in a god who would condemn a helpless, innocent child because his parents have chosen not to have him participate in some archaic ceremony. Hell sounds like a lot more fun, imo.
I realize that these vehement opinions are probably going to offend and startle some, but I’d like to emphasize how OFFENDED and INSULTED I am when the Pope of an institution I once gave my money, time and brain to says such hateful and absolutely ridiculous things. Be offended all you like, but please recognize that the things YOU say offend a faaar greater portion of the population in this day and age.
I’m choosing in my life to believe that love, actual kind and selfless love, conquers all…so some book or old white man with a funny hat is NOT going to convince me otherwise. Not today and not tomorrow.
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