Tuesday, June 08, 2010

oh, and one more thing...

"This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.” John Steinbeck

It's actually pretty amusing that I haven't written about this topic before... because it is something that I am very passionate about {and I rarely limit what I think or feel}. Also, I have refrained from writing about this because I don't want to offend anyone, which is equally amusing considered it is a topic I am offended by on nearly a daily basis. But it is still worth talking about it and if you are sensitive to the subject of religion, then you might want to just stop reading now. Because I'm not holding back. At all.

Still interested? Here goes. It is my personal belief that religion has no place whatsoever in the work environment. I'm in social work, and it's funny how because of my career people tend to assume that I am a Christian and that there is no harm in sending emails inviting me to church events, or even phone calls from contracting agencies who want me to join them for church supper or some weekend conference. Kindly, no thank you. No. No. No. I think this is extremely rude and insensitive, yet I have to laugh because there is so much of an emphasis on "cultural differences" within our training for social work - yet the reality is totally opposite when it comes to religion.

For instance, we had a "Holiday" {aka Christmas} party last year. There was a huge debate on whether or not we should have a Christmas Tree... even though there wasn't really the space for it. One of my colleagues went on a rant about how we are taking God out of every aspect of Christmas, and how dare we even consider leaving out a Tree? News flash.... most Americans who celebrate Christmas aren't regulars in the  church pews. It's become a day of celebrating family and loved ones and most of all -- lots of food and lots of laughter. It's a magical day for children, whether they believe in Jesus or not... and who are we to take "Santa" away from them? Ugh. Work meetings shouldn't waste time arguing about a stupid tree.

Lately I have been having nightmares nearly every single night. My mother is a pastor and my father and his family have been attending the same church since he was a little boy. Up until about a year ago, I attended church every Sunday and kept my mouth shut. My questions were turned away and if I disagreed with anything that was said, I was met with judgement. I have left that church, because life is too short to sit in a room and feel offended and bogged down for an entire hour or more. And I have been to many different churches... they all mention the same things.... Do this or you're going to hell. Do that and you'll burn for eternity in the fiery pits of hell. So on and so forth. Blah blah blah, fear tactics don't really impress me.

So back to my nightmares. It is really a shame that my feelings about religion are surfacing while I dream. All of them have the same basic idea: people at my church find out that I am Buddhist and disown me. This is hurtful, because these are people that I have known for my entire life. Deep down I think that if they knew that I didn't buy all of the miraculous stories and flashy miracles... they would look at me differently and probably distance themselves. That hurts. I mean, my grandmother still thinks that I'm going to a Baptist church in the city, because I think she would literally die if she knew I was going to a Buddhist Temple.

Then there are my friends. I love my friends and respect their beliefs, but they are so offended when they hear that I'm still on the fence about whether God exists or not, and are appalled that I don't think it really matters either way. My parents feel that same way, and are still waiting for me to "wake up" and return to my "roots." I don't force people in my life to defend why they believe a certain thing... so why am I always put up against a group of people, defending mine. Not really fair in my opinion.

And who is to say that Christianity is getting back to my roots. What if I was born in China... or India... or South Korea... I mean honestly, luck is what it all comes down to. I am lucky to have been born to a family who loves me, in a country that is safe & to have the freedom to think for myself about the most important decision in my life: where did we all come from and why are we here? It just so happens that this same country is full of people who believe in God. {and a lot of that has to do with how you were raised}. But that doesn't mean that the majority rules and I don't get a say in my own spiritual path, or lack thereof if I so choose.

Recently I was told that I was going to hell because I am Buddhist. I am nothing special, but I love people and have spent my entire life helping others any way that I can. Not to pull the "I donated my kidney" card... but come on, I am not an evil person worthy of eternal damnation! In truth, I don't think anyone really deserves that, because who we are depends on where we've been and what we've seen or haven't seen. This is the same reason that I am 110% against the Death Penalty... but that's a totally different rant.

I am just annoyed, that's all. I feel that Christianity was founded on certain values such as --> not judging others and loving them despite their differences!!! Could be wrong though. That's just what I got out of 20+ years of my church experience. I hope that if you are still reading this, you maybe feel even a tiny bit the same way. You appreciate your freedoms in what spiritual path you choose, even if your path is unsure what to believe or maybe the path you follow has no God in it at all. Don't push your beliefs on others, and instead love them for who they are -- not who you think they should be. You never really know how what you say or do effects some one... so the safest bet is to let your opinions be opinions, for the sake of hurting people you genuinely care about.

And by all means... please please pleassssse keep religion out of the work place!


  1. Wow girl, i've been through this also. My mom is a pentacostal evangalist and i grew up in church too. When i decided to walk away from all of that about 10 years ago our relationship fell apart. In fact when my son was born out of wedlock 5 1/2 years ago she told me "I'll love him anyways even though he was born into sin." That was it, i didn't see her or speak for 5 years. When i finally decided to forgive her, she knew that one judgemental comment might keep her away from her family yet again. My worst experiences in life as far as being hurt or offended have been by people who are supposed to live by this good book. I think Jesus was a good teacher, and a good man. But that's about the extent of it. None of us know for sure how we got here. But sadly, we have to follow their teachings since they don't. Love, forgive, help others.. It's much more simple than religios folks make it out to be. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. i'm a christian. i believe in jesus and i know in my heart he exists. HOWEVER... i get SO discouraged and upset when i see how fellow christians treat others. i've written about this before on my old, private blog. it literally breaks my heart. as christians, and you said this in your post... we are called to love others unconditionally. because that's how christ loves us. we are to show grace, mercy, peace, and love. to everyone. we are called to help others in need, to spread joy and hope to those less fortunate. because that's how christ is. he loves us, ALL of us. whoever we are, wherever we come from... he loves us. he gave his life for us. not just a group of people. every. single. person. and because his love has set us free, christians are called to love everyone. even if i don't agree with someone's beliefs or how they choose to live their life - who am i to say they're wrong, and vice versa? even if we disagree, i will respect you. and i love you. for exactly who YOU are. and i expect from others in return. and it's so interesting to me how people of faith take the values of christianity and twist them into what they think it should be and use it against for their benefit. they use it to judge others. to spew hatred. and to make people feel like dirt. they give christians a bad name, even the loving and nuturing ones, the ones who actually live what our faith stands for. and that upsets me SO much. because that's not the god i believe in. the god i know. in the bible, jesus was angry at the haughty people of the church who judged the "commoners" and made them feel so awful. and what did jesus do? he went to the poor and he hung out with them. the sick, the criminals, the prostitutes, the poor, the dirty... he showed them kindness and love, because that's what they needed more than anything. he just wanted them to see themselves how he sad them - beautiful gemstones. and i know that's what i'm supposed to do in this life. i'm supposed to find the ones who feel unloved and hopeless, the ones who have been judged and hated... and love them. hug them. show them hope. and show them they're beautiful exactly the way they are. that's the god i believe in.

    this is way longer than i thought it would be, sorry, love! i just get so worked up thinking about how judgmental people can be. and it's not just christians. people from all walks of life can be horribly hateful. and that breaks my heart. i hope you know that not all christians spew lies and hurtful words. there are some of us who are the opposite of that. i would never, EVER judge anyone based on what they believe... who am i to do that? nope, i have no place to tell anyone what to believe in. the world is too full of hate, i'm only called to love wholeheartedly. <3

  3. olivia -- so sorry to hear about your family struggles and thank you for commenting and understanding my rant.

    kelly ann -- i really truly appreciate your comment. i read the whole thing and it made me smile because i know in my heart that you GET what life is truly about. it makes me really happy to find people who are genuinley loving and compassionate and that gives me a lot of hope... because even though i know that a lot of christians don't get it, a lot of them still do. and i shouldn't let a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. thank you for listening to me and hearing me and supporting me, despite our differences. i am so grateful for your kind words!

  4. I'm with you chica. And ironically i am one of those people who grew up with you in that church that MY dad has gone to since he was born. Liberty was really my eye opener. I was always on the fence and going there and seeing the extreme and feeling so judged and not good enough for the life and beliefs i have was just defeating.
    I think EVERYONE has the right to believe whatever they want to help them lead a good and honest life full of helping others. Whether they are at a temple or a church or a synagogue.
    My last job people would literally pray to a Saint if we couldn't locate a chart. Talk about needing to keep it out of the work place!

  5. Kara,
    I came across your blog by chance, and your post on faith was so intriguing to me. I am a recovering evangelical christian--I used to know all of the answers and believed with all of my heart that my job was to tell others the answers so they could join me in eternity. Fought to get a prayer group in my public school, carried my bible around like a trophy, abstained from absolutely EVERYTHING, then went to a christian college where I was a worship leader and chaplain of just about everything. I mean, I BELIEVED.

    I never thought I'd say this in my life, but I have no idea what any of the answers are anymore. And I am now on staff at that same christian college. (awkward!)I am more and more ok with this mystery, though.

    I too am looking for peace in my life--and am wracked with anxiety. It's funny because I used to preach that you wouldn't find peace outside of knowing Jesus--or that you wouldn't feel fulfilled or truly happy without Jesus. But either I was doing it wrong, or the way is not as narrow as I once believed because it is just not working for me.

    I don't know what my point is here, really--just that we as humans really are on this strange journey together, and I enjoyed reading a part of your path to peace.



speak your mind! always!

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