I believe in God. I go to church almost weekly (hey, I'm human). I take my kids to church. We discuss religion at home. I attend a Methodist church. The kids also attend a Baptist church with their father and occasionally a Mennonite church with their aunt and uncle. We have friends and family who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness, Pagan, agnostics and atheists.
All of those people are good people – regardless of their beliefs. I don’t have to agree with their religious beliefs, but I firmly believe in their right to have those beliefs and to celebrate them as they see fit. And the nice thing is that if I don’t understand something about their belief, rather than making assumptions, I can ask them about it or research it to find the answer and learn more about it. I don’t tell them that they are wrong because they don’t believe the same thing that I do, and I don’t believe that I am a better person than they are simply because of my own belief system.
This morning in my personal facebook newsfeed, there were two articles floating around that caught my eye. One was about the "Equality House" that is across the street from the WBC in Topeka and one was about a church in North Carolina that has stopped performing ANY marriage ceremonies until the right to marry is granted to ALL couples. You can go and read both of those articles for yourself if you would like - but as soon as I did, I immediately shared both of them from my personal profile because this is something that I fully support.
Wait, what’s that? I believe in God AND support equal rights for all people? How can that be?
Look at it this way.
I have friends who are vegans. They won’t eat anything that comes from an animal. Nothing. They eat fruits and veggies and tofu and weird stuff like that. I don’t totally understand it, and I’m not sure why they would want to give up the deliciousness that is bacon cheeseburgers, but they do. And you know what? It doesn’t affect me one single bit. Not one bit. What they choose to do at their dinner table does not affect me at all.
If they come over for dinner, I can do a few things. I can ignore the fact that they’re vegan and cook up a wonderful meaty meal and make them feel uncomfortable (and hungry), or I can make a killer salad with no animal products in it that I might not like, or I can ask them what to make so that we can all enjoy a wonderful meal. One thing that I won’t do is force them to eat a burger – because even though I think it’s odd that they won’t, I understand that they do some things differently than I do.
Same goes for my gay friends and family. I can be selfish and ignore their ‘gayness’ and make them feel uncomfortable just so that I don’t have to face it, or I can love them and accept them for who they are – good people who happen to do things a little differently than I do. I don’t try to force my beliefs on them because my beliefs are no more right than theirs are.
If the kids ask me why our vegan friends don’t eat the same food that we do, I can simply tell them “because some people eat meat and some don’t, and that’s ok” and move on with it. No big deal, right?
And *gasp* what if my kids ask why a guy is holding hands with another guy? For the record, they have asked – and my response was “because, kids, sometimes guys fall in love with guys, and sometimes girls fall in love with girls.” And you know what the kids’ reaction was? “Oh. OK. What’s for supper?” They are not scarred for life by seeing two men holding hands or even kissing any more than they are by witnessing heterosexual displays of affection. They understand that everyone is different, and they treat everyone with the love and respect that is deserved. They may not agree with it when they get older and fully understand everything about homosexuality, but at least they’ll be open-minded enough to understand that being gay does not equate to being a bad person.
Yes, I know that there is a big difference between being vegan and being gay. But you know what? It all boils down to the fact that people are different. Different people do and believe different things for different reasons – but it doesn't automatically mean that they are horrible people or deserve to be treated as though they are less than human.
People like to throw around the whole “but the Bible says it’s wrong” argument. But you know what? Not everyone believes in the same Bible. Not everyone has the same religious beliefs. All people have the right to believe in their own philosophies, whether you agree with them or not. My Bible might say that it’s wrong, but my Bible goes with my religion. Someone who follows a different religion has a different book of ‘rules’ and THAT book might say that it’s perfectly fine – but since that person has the right to believe in their religion just as I have the right to believe in mine, who is right?
The first amendment says “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”.
Let me repeat that first part: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” But laws have been passed banning gay marriage (or as I like to call it: "marriage") because it goes against some people's religious beliefs? How does that work? Doesn't banning anything based on religious beliefs go directly against the first amendment?
Your religious beliefs are not right. My religious beliefs are not right. The gay guy down the street? His aren’t right either. NO ONE’S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ARE RIGHT. No person has the right to impose his/her religious beliefs on anyone. Period. Your religion is your own. Mine is mine. I may not agree with your religion, and you may not agree with mine, but it doesn't mean that either one of us is right or wrong.
Bottom line: You wouldn’t be free to have your religious beliefs without the first amendment protecting your right to do so – and at the same time, that same amendment gives everyone else in this country the freedom to have his/her own religious beliefs. I believe in God – or at least the idea that there is something out there that is way bigger than all of us – but I don’t necessarily believe in following every single thing that is in the Bible – and that is my right, just as others have the right to feel differently.
Human rights. Equal rights. Regardless of religion, everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly.
People need to stop trying to shove their own beliefs down everyone else’s throats. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, and live your own life the way that you choose. Be the best person that you can possibly be. If you live your life in the best way possible for you, then you have nothing to worry about in whatever version of the hereafter you choose to believe exists. And hey, the entire world might actually end up being a better place to be.