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Why I refuse to call myself a Christian.

When I was in eighth grade, I accepted Jesus into my life.  I (literally) got down on my knees and pledged my life to Him.  I promised that I would live the life He wanted for me and that I would follow His teachings and do whatever I could to let Him know just how grateful I was for everything He gave me.

Then my parents divorced.  It took them five years to finally get everything settled, ruining my high school years completely.  My brother turned into someone I couldn't recognize and my sister stopped coming out of her room.  I lost my way and found that it was easier to be angry at God instead of having faith in Him that this was all part of some higher plan for my life.  I struggled with my beliefs and wanted to get back on track and accept God back into my life, so I decided to go to a Christian college.  I picked Geneva College, a small, private school founded by the reformed presbyterian branch of Christianity.  I liked the atmosphere the college provided and I was excited to be around fellow believers.

The only snag was that one of my good friends had recently come out as gay.  I love him completely and I know that he probably struggled with his sexuality because he was raised in a Catholic household.  I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that Christians are supposed to condemn gay people as sinners.  I couldn't do that to my friend, because he is one of the kindest people I know.  I automatically clashed with everyone at Geneva that tried to talk about gay people in a negative light.  The school's "no homosexuals" rule made me seriously re-consider my choice of university and the students' backwards thinking towards gays alienated me from many people that could have been my friends.

Instead of turning into a good little Christian schoolgirl, I turned into an out-spoken liberal agnostic.  I was the voice for gay rights on campus, which meant a good number of them probably thought I was a lesbian.  I butted heads with students and teachers alike over that particular issue because I wasn't afraid to tell it like it is.  I wasn't afraid to speak the unpopular opinion.  My separation from the rest of the student body led me to realize that it wasn't just gays they were prejudiced against; it was anyone who was different from them.

I was raised Catholic, but I was never taught what the differences between the branches of Christianity are.  I thought we all were the same.  We all love and praise the same God, so who cares about the little things?  But Geneva College cares about the little things.  Plenty of people didn't like the fact that I was Catholic, and this dislike was heightened when they realized I was pro gay rights.  But it wasn't just that they didn't like me or that they didn't like people that are different.  They want to change people that are different.

In my Humanities 303 class, we read a book called The Sunflower.  It tells a man's story of surviving a concentration camp during the Holocaust.  He tells the story of how a Nazi soldier asked him to forgive him because he was Jewish.  This led the man to wonder if he, a Jew, was authorized to forgive a Nazi on behalf of his people.  Who was he to forgive a man who had done unspeakable things?  Who was he to speak for those that had died, those that no longer have a voice?  I found the story fascinating and I believed that the man did the right thing by saying nothing.

My humanities class thought differently.  They believed that the Nazi should have been forgiven.  They were criticizing the decision of a man who had been told his entire life that his beliefs were wrong.  That was too much for me, so I spoke up, telling the class that they as Christians cannot say what a Jewish man should have done.  Their beliefs are different from ours, so who are we to claim we know better?  The answer I got was despicable.  Apparently, as Christians, it is our job to judge the beliefs of others because we are the superior religion.  It is our job to convert a man who has been in a concentration camp for his religion.  It is our job to tell him that he is wrong and that he needs Jesus.

That was the moment I realized that I could no longer in good conscience call myself a Christian.  Do I think there is a God?  Yes.  Do I think that Jesus exists?  Yes.  But will I give myself the same name as these people who are so quick to judge someone, who are so quick to tell someone who has suffered so greatly that he is wrong?  No.  I will not call myself a Christian, regardless of what my beliefs are.  I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, I believe in the Holy Spirit, and I think that Buddha is pretty flippin sweet.  But I am not a Christian and I am not a Buddhist.  I am a believer in the Holy Trinity who likes Buddha.  That's me.

But why am I writing about this?  I am writing about this because of tonight's Glee episode, "Grilled Cheesus."  I watched the episode and enjoyed the episode.  It was emotional and thought-provoking and well-written.  I enjoyed the way the three beliefs shown were each shown in a positive light.  Each was given equal representation and freedom of expression.  I enjoyed seeing that; I found it refreshing and needed.

And then I logged onto facebook and saw the Geneva College kids' statuses.  They called the episode 'sacrilegious' and claimed it did not have a good message.  I'm sorry, but how did that episode have a bad message?  All it did was show the struggle that can come when people have conflicting beliefs.  It showed that someone can stay true to their beliefs without bashing someone else's.  It showed that someone can have a change of heart without having a change of religion, and that is what I truly believe needs to be shown to today's world.  People need to realize that they cannot always be right and that they cannot always change other people's minds.  But what they can do is agree to disagree and come to a mutual respect where those beliefs are concerned.

Clearly this message is still lost on Geneva College.  I only hope that when they are faced with the real world, they will be armed with more than a few Bible verses and the power of prayer to use in their defense.  The world will not take kindly to this style of communication, so I can only hope and pray to whatever God really is up there that they will see the light eventually.  After all, there is a fine line between wanting to convert someone and wanting to overpower someone.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
THIS. I love you so fucking hard. Because I think you've summed up like everything I've ever thought about religion this past year: "I am a believer in the Holy Trinity who likes Buddha." Though, to be truthful, I'm so disillusioned with organized religion that I've been trying to convince myself that I don't believe in God, and, um, it's not working. Hah. So... we'll see where that goes?

Anyway. Rock on. You're awesome.
Oct. 6th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC)
Not necessarily that I'm especially into Buddha, just the whole dropping-Christian-as-a-label-but-still-liking-God-and-Jesus bit. /clarification
Oct. 6th, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
I LOVE YOU BACK. And let me tell you from experience, I've been at the I'm-so-fed-up-with-religion-that-I-don't-want-to-believe-in-God-anymore point, and it really sucked. Separating humanity's interpretation of God from who I believe He really is was the best thing that ever happened to me.

And dude, follow the Dalai Lama on twitter. It's kind of awesome and even if you're not into Buddhism, there's some great stuff to be found.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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