Hello, yes, I’m not religious. Does that change your view of me? It shouldn’t.
Sometimes it feels like every time you even think to mention that you may not be religious, someone has something to say about it, and it’s not always nice or neutral. Sometimes people are downright rude when they discover that your religious views don’t line up with theirs, or that you don’t have religion. Some people make it seem like you’ve walked up to them and spit on their face while taking a piss on their boots the moment the words, “I’m actually not religious,” leave your lips.
Some people begin to dig into your past, trying to find the reason for it. And if they find out you used to go to church, when you were a kid and still forming your own opinions about the world and your life, they begin to probe for that reason why so they can tell you that their church is different, their church will change your mind.
I have attended church at random times throughout my life. I have not gone for spiritual enlightenment, but for a chance to hear another person’s take on a certain part of the Bible. I’ve also read the Bible. I’m not perfectly familiar with it and I can’t recite scripture for you off the top of my head, either. I don’t have a favorite passage. I do have some favorite tales from the Bible, though, and I can paraphrase them in modern words that the average person can understand.
I was saved and baptized in a Southern Baptist church in a little town where everyone was always up in everyone’s business.
But I am not religious.
I have read holy books for several different religions. I have studied mythologies. I have an interest in mythology and religion from a scholarly standpoint. I do not abide by any religious book. And you know what? I also don’t judge people for their choice in religion. I don’t go out of my way to talk to people who have religion the way that they often talk to me. I have been talked down to for my lack of religion. I have been shunned, treated like a demonic heathen who was seconds away from murdering the babies in the nursery at the hospital. People’s view of me have completely changed the moment they found out that I wasn’t religious.
I can be an asshole. I don’t deny that, and I often tell people about it. I warn them, because I think it’s only polite to let the people around you know when you can be an asshole, or that you can come off as cold, or that you generally don’y care about a multitude of things. I like for people to know what they’re getting into when they decide to take-up with me.
But I also donate to charity. I help others when and where I can. I try to enrich the lives of the people in my life by helping them through rough patches or by teaching them things they didn’t know. I try to do kind things in my own way, because people have been kind to me during my life and I want to pay that forward. People have gone out of their way to make sure I didn’t feel alone an isolated, so I want to be able to do that for other people. I want to make people laugh and smile. I want to let people know that they are loved and that there is at least one human on this planet who will do whatever they can to cheer them up when they’re down, or that will help them out however they’re able to when they’re trudging through whatever shit life has dumped on them.
So, yeah, I can be an asshole. But I’m not a bad person who sits around wishing ill on my fellow humans.
Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal, these are principles which every man of every faith can embrace. These are not polite suggestions — these are codes of behavior.
I have fought for people to be able to choose their own religion. I have ripped non-religious folks a new one for telling a religious person that they’re dumb for having religion. I have stood up for the non-religious when people try to tear them down for not having religion. I have defended many denominations and views when they were unfairly attacked. And, yet, so many people won’t even give me the courtesy of just letting me be peacefully non-religious. People are always trying to drag me to church, to make me bend to their beliefs.
People are always trying to save my soul but don’t have the damn courtesy to ask me what I need to be saved from.
My boyfriend has four children, and the oldest two girls love to go to church. They sing Jesus Loves Me day in and day out. I let them go to church. I let them enjoy that, if it’s what they want to do. I recite the classic Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep bedtime prayer with them at night, and respectfully bow my head when they choose to pray before a meal (it’s not often). The only time I get frustrated with the whole church thing is when the people there tell the girls that everyone who doesn’t go to church is bad, wrong, sinners, and are going to Hell. They’re 6 and 4 and I don’t want them growing up shoving religion down the throats of everyone they meet because I want them to be respectful of humans, not just Christians.
When I am at family gatherings and my family says a prayer before a meal I bow my head out of respect for my family.
I am not religious, but that does not mean I don’t know how to show respect to the people around me who are.
I have accomplished amazing things in my life without religion. I have overcome depression, I have found love, I have seen the miracle of life, I have held a puppy while it struggled to take its last breath, I have had my heart broken, I have miscarried, I have obtained a college degree, I’ve gone back to school for a second degree, I have written poetry, I have read so many books, I have made so many friends all around the world, I have broken world records, I have been a runner up in GISHWHES, I have donated to Random Acts, I have fed the homeless, I have helped build a business. I have done so much and seen so much without religion.
I am happy with my life. I am happy where I am, how I am, with the people that I am with. I am happy when people find comfort in their deity, because religion can be a really good thing. Religion is powerful – it can be used to do amazing things, but it can also be used to do awful things. Religion can give people hope, but it can also start wars.
Your personal beliefs are your own and no one owes anyone an explanation for their beliefs. I will never ask you why you are religious, please do not assume that it’s okay to ask me why I’m not. I will never demand you explain to me the exact moment in your life that you decided that religion was a thing you wanted to be deeply involved in, please do not assume it is okay to ask me why I stopped going to church or why I decided to step away from religion. You are not afraid to say you love God in public? That’s great, but I should not be afraid to say that I am not religious in public.
You want to practice your religion? That’s fine. That’s awesome. That’s great. I will support you. I will listen to you talk about the amazing things you learned. I will even discuss your holy book with you, and we can have an education conversation about your religion. I’m for it. I’m down. I’m your person, if you need me. But the moment you make the decision to not respect me because of my lack of religion I will immediately drop all respect for you, but don’t worry because I still won’t belittle you for your religious beliefs, because I believe that that is wrong and just plain awful. I will, however, cut you out of my life because I don’t need that kind of negativity around me when I am just trying to make it through life with a smile on my face and attempting to put a smile on other people’s faces.
I’m a regular human who wants to do good and make the world a little brighter. I’m a regular human who donates to charity and would give their last dollar to someone in need. I just also happen to be non-religious.