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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

I’ve had to remind myself this week that I still live in the United States of America. I had to check and make sure the Constitution was still in place, and, for good measure, I checked to make sure the Bill of Rights hadn’t been changed. My fear was that rich, white men were the only ones who were now entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

My main thoughts and most of my focus, much to my dismay, has been on religion.  The President was to sign an Executive Order that would grant exemptions for religious believers, schools and businesses, to federal laws they disagree with – mainly LGBT and abortion rights laws.  You know – an Executive Order that would allow people of faith to discriminate based on their beliefs – they called it – “Religious Liberties.” Thankfully, but much to the dismay of the evangelical folks, these exemptions were not included in this Executive Order.

This whole thing has made my head, and my heart hurt.

I do not understand anyone who goes to a church who tells you it’s okay to discriminate. Even if you believe in your heart you don’t agree with discrimination, my thinking is this; if you can sit in that pew and listen to the sermons, there is a part of you that does agree. And even if you say to yourself, I don’t agree with that – If you give them money, you’re supporting discrimination. I’m sorry, but that’s just how I feel.

I’m gay, so perhaps my take on anti-LGBT preaching’s may be different that a straight person, but they shouldn’t be.  I just know I could never support a church that tells me it’s okay to discriminate or that someone is less than simply because of who they are.

Personally, A church that tells anyone they are less than, is not a place I want to be. A church that tells anyone they must pray the gay away to get to heaven, is not a place I want to be. Any church that feeds the hungry, clothes the poor and does good works, and yet discriminates and pickets and marches against LGBT people – well, that’s not a place I want to be either. You either love all people as they are, or you don’t. You either believe God made us all in his image, or you don’t. Period.

This is the reason I no longer attend church. The picking and choosing of who we should vote for, who we should discriminate against, what passages of the Bible we should read…  It’s not for me.

We are all human beings. Every one of us. I want the same respect given the straight woman who lives her life just trying to help people. We’re no different in the eyes of God.

As a nation, we already have “Religious Liberty.”  The Founders made sure of that in The First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

What these evangelical people want, is the freedom to discriminate. Against women, against LGBT, against anything and anyone who doesn’t fit into their little religious box.  They not only want it, they want it to be the law of the land.

We are all searching for something. We’re all just trying to make our way in this world as best we can. Personally, I do what I know to be right and just. I write and march and protest for everyone to have an equal shot at this thing we call life. I believe that equal rights are human rights.

I don’t hang with people who are negative and have hate in their heart. I walk away from people who like to tell me I’m bound for hell because of who I am.

I try and spread kindness, and I do what I can to let other gay people know it’s okay to come out. It’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay.

And it is okay. No matter what your family, your church, even your government may throw at you…

It’s okay.

You’re okay.

Your life matters.

You matter.1-DSC_1766

 

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For years now I’ve been writing about tolerance and kindness and how we just need to love one another. I’ve tried to stay focused on the end result which is love and justice and the freedom to simply be whoever we are and live a life of truth as we travel along our journey.

But – I have to tell you – I’m tired.

As tired as Franklin Graham is of … “the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats” – that’s how tired I am of his religious balderdash that’s being crammed down my throat. I’m tired of the Christian religion showing up in my government and my schools and anywhere else they deem it necessary to save humanity. It irritates me that some Christians believe that their religion should dictate the laws of the land that include millions of people who do not follow their religion.

I have nothing against religion – nothing at all. However – We live in a Country that was built on the Freedom of Religion. You know – a Country where we all have the choice to go to a church or synagogue or mosque or meeting hall or a building in a strip mall and worship as we choose.

We also have the choice to not go to any church and not read a Bible or a Koran or any book and simply live our lives doing the best we can trying desperately to do no harm to anyone or anything as we go along.

I’m a lesbian – and the Franklin Grahams, Jerry Farwell’s of this world have decided that my life of “moral decay” is not worthy of their sort of inclusion – unless, of course, I change my ways and do as they say…

Allegedly, Franklin’s Mother instilled in him that he follow the teachings of Jesus, but as far as I know – Jesus never spoke about homosexuals. So – does he follow the teachings of Jesus or does he follow the Bible? And if he follows the Bible – does he believe and follow every word or does he simply pick the parts that suit his gay-bashing agenda?

It’s this sort of evangelical, religious craziness that I have grown tired of. I’m a human being – not some sex-crazed, porn-watching, marriage bashing, end of the human race, lesbian.

My life with Susan has absolutely nothing to do with the high divorce rate in the United States. We had nothing to do with it – really.

My life with Susan has nothing to do earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, tornadoes – and my favorite – September 11.  (Jerry Falwell pointed his finger and his Bible in my face and said the gays and lesbians ‘helped this happen.’)

I understand that people need religion. I understand the need to feel inclusion and acceptance and a purpose to this life that at times feels out-of-control. What I don’t understand is when a religion turns into bashing.

You don’t need a religion to love one another. You don’t need a religion to be kind and thoughtful and polite and gentle. But – if you have a religion and it doesn’t include any of the above – then what is the purpose of said religion?

Religion or no religion – go out into the world and be kind.  That’s it – Just. Be. Kind.

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I was roaming the aisles of our local Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon and I came across this book by John Izzo titled: “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die.”

I pulled the book off the shelf and started leafing through it. Leafing led to reading snippets, and the reading of snippets led to sitting on a chair reading word for word taking notes.

Maybe because I’m going to be 63 this year and I know there is more of my life behind me than in front of me – I feel the need to live my life to the fullest and to be the best person I know how to be.

Here are the Five Secrets Mr. Izzo believes we must discover before we die.

  1. Be True To Yourself
  2. Leave No Regrets
  3. Become Love
  4. Live The Moment
  5. Give More Than You Take

I was only confused by #3 – Become Love.  I wasn’t sure what that meant – and then I read this:  “life is love, and if you miss love, you miss life.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

It’s pretty clear to me that the only thing that matters when you get to the end of your life is love.  From the things that I’ve read, and the things I’ve experienced, people who are dying don’t surround themselves with piles of cash and bank statements on their deathbed; they surround themselves with photos of loved ones, with photos of vacations that were filled with love and happiness; and the only thing they spoke of was the love they gave and the love they received throughout their lives.

They also speak of regrets and what-ifs and I should haves – which covers all of the things Mr. Izzo says we should discover before we die.

The Be True To Yourself is the hardest for me.  I try; but there are times when I find myself defending who I am and what I believe way more than I feel I should have to. I don’t understand why it matters so much to so many what I believe.

I don’t struggle with my beliefs – I struggle with those who insist I’m wrong. And it’s not so much a struggle as it is me not understanding why we just can’t let people be. So we believe different things – does this mean we are no longer human beings? Does it mean we no longer love our fellow man?  Does it mean we no longer treat each other with kindness and respect? Does this mean you are no longer my friend? I don’t understand believing in something that makes you separate from others, when the whole purpose of life is to love…  These – these are my struggles…

Read over the Five Secrets again and think of your life as you’re reading. How are you doing? Have you discovered the secrets?

Memorial Park

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Today I was sitting in a Panera Bread eating my lunch.  This man came up to me and asked if he could sit with me and chat.  Not wanting to offend, I said yes.  Turns out he was a “Christian Minister” and what follows is part of the conversation…

  Minister: Are you a Christian?

  Me:  Well, what do you consider a Christian?

  Minister: You live your life in accordance with the Bible, you follow the teachings of Jesus, you go to church, you tithe to your church, you follow the bylaws of your church – and you spread the word of God everywhere you go.

  Me: Well, by those standards – no – I am not what you would consider   a Christian.

  Minister: Well then – what are you?

  Me:  I’m a human being.

  Minister: NO – what religion do you believe in?

  Me: I believe in human kindness. I believe we are all one people – all deserving of love, respect and kindness.

  Minister:  So – you have no faith?

  Me: I have an abundance of faith.

  Minister: But you don’t go to church, you follow no religion – how can you have any faith?

  Me: Some days it isn’t easy – but most days I believe in the goodness each of us have within ourselves to help others, to love others, to show respect and kindness toward one another.

  Minister: You’re a dreamer.

  Me:  As are you.

  Minister: If you don’t follow the teachings of Jesus, you are damned to walk the road that leads to hell.

  Me: I don’t believe in hell.

  Minister: Well, what do you believe in?

  Me: Love, Kindness, Goodness, Tolerance, Respect,

  Minister: You need Jesus in your life.

  Me: How do you know this? You don’t know me at all. You know nothing about my life, you know nothing of what I do in my life – And yet – you judge me. 

  Minister: I’m not judging – I’m telling you, you need Jesus.

  Me: And if I don’t have Jesus?

  Minister: You are on the road to hell – there is no saving your soul – there is no hope for your life…

  Me: I live a good life – I’m kind, I’m loving, I’m tolerant and respectful and yet – you’re telling me if I don’t have Jesus – nothing about my life matters?

  Minister: Jesus can save you.

  Me: I don’t need saving.

  Minister: You are on the road to hell.

  Me: Well – my road is paved with good intentions.

  Minister: You need Jesus

  Me: You need to leave now…

This – this is what makes me crazy.  This man had never seen me before – and God willing – will never see me again. And yet – he felt he had the absolute right to tell me my life didn’t matter unless I had Jesus making all my decisions.  This man was an ordained minister – supposedly a man of God – telling me my life didn’t matter. He certainly did nothing that would entice me to follow his religion. If anything – he convinced me I don’t need to go to church to be a good, loving, kind, caring person.

I have people of all religions and no religions in my life. I love them all, I respect them all, and I do not judge them. I respect that this is what they need in their life to get them from day to day, and I would never tell them their life didn’t matter – every life matters.

Apparently, I’m on the road to hell – I wonder where that intersects with the yellow-brick road?

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