Losing My Religion

Losing My Religion

speech silencedby Erin Weist

Churches and their faithful followers around the world have increasingly become the target of derision, suspicion, bullying and oppression. From news articles such as this one from the UK (http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/preacher-arrested-for-calling-homosexuality-a-sin.html) and this one from Oregon in the US (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-oregon-bakery-wedding-cake-20150703-story.html) there is mounting evidence of religious oppression in direct combat with the current state-sponsored religion of secularism. The refrain is: we’ll tolerate your religious belief, as long as you keep it to yourself.

I have no problem sharing my communities with those who follow different paths in life, who believe in different faith traditions, or who believe in none at all. Although I differ greatly from them in core beliefs, I appreciate that atheists deserve the same respect and freedom to declare their beliefs in the public sphere as anyone. So what would happen if atheists became prominently known for declaring in a public setting that there is no God or no great purpose to life? Could I have them arrested because I take offense? What if they refused to cater my religious event? Could I sue them for emotional and mental suffering? The idea is preposterous because, even in thriving democratic societies, religious beliefs are not given the same consideration as secular beliefs.

Increasingly there is a secular push to shove religious believers back inside their own heads. The cry is, “keep your religion in your churches, in your homes, among your own kind, but don’t bring it out here!” with the absurd conclusion that faith can be contained in your mind. I was raised to believe that faith is not just something you have but something you do, an outward sign of belief. My faith is completely dead if it doesn’t play a part of my daily choices, including my interactions with other people. This could include not taking part of activities that deride cherished principles or not viewing material that contradicts moral choices I would make in my personal life. I speak out against advertising that I deem pornographic. I encourage against the making or viewing of movies and other forms of media that devalue women or the sacred nature of procreation. I am outspoken in politics and other civic areas in order to encourage honesty, civility, integrity, prudence and other worthwhile human endeavors.

These and many other of my daily activities are spurred by my religious convictions. These are things I learned at home and my church. They are also things that I continue to teach my own children. They have served me well in life and will continue to dictate my actions in the future. Does that future include limiting my ability to say I’m making these choices because they spring from a religious standpoint? Perhaps my ability to “live my religion” wouldn’t be curtailed if I said that I learned them from school, maybe a philosophy class. Again, this state-sanctioned secularism is being touted as superior to religious convictions that have driven mankind for millennia. We are suddenly being forced to leave those convictions hiding in the closet while others are paraded and hailed as hedonistically superior. So be it. I will allow for the freedoms of others but I will also live my faith, loudly, if necessary, to preserve what I view as a crucial thread in the moral fabric of society.

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