Tuesday, February 25, 2014

This is not my faith

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...."
~The 1st amendment to the constitution of the United States of America.

Say what you will, but the important thing here is that his line, more than just about any other in the history of my country, had largely kept the body politic out of my religious life. Sure, it's hardly a perfect line, and yes, there are times where faith and religion collide like a pair of welterweight boxers on a trophy tare. But all in all, I'm not compelled to even embrace the trappings of a different faith like is still sometimes pushed on the people of other free nations like Briton and France or example.

Faith, no mater how you look at it, is a highly personal thing. Be you Pagan, Christian, Buddhist, Muslum or even agnostics or atheist, the choice to believe in a higher power, or no power at all, is not something that should be reached on a whim. Its one of the cornerstones of our humanity. Even in apathy, the decision not to care can shape how we interact with the world around us. I quite frankly hold the magnitude of this decision equal to that of choosing my spouse, and even now, I do not think that comparison is far off.

And to carry that metaphor a little further, like my spouse, my faith is, in many respects, highly unique. I generally call myself a Christian, and if asked, I identify myself as Methodist. but even within that relatively narrow and well defined field, I choose to apply the tenants of my religion in very specific ways, ways that may not line up with others in my church. My faith, like my wife, is a unique partner in my life, and one that compliments me fully.

It is with this in mind that I look with extreme sadness at the latest round of domestic and foreign legislation in various stages of process around the world. Uganda has effectively criminalized all same sex activity, with stiff and dangerous prison sentences awaiting those convicted. A american federal lobbyist has, under a banner of "save the children" and "force morals on the NFL", drafted a bill to illegalize homosexuals' admission into professional football (admittedly the document has next to no chance of making it to a point of consideration, but the fact it exists is point enough for here). And lastly, the state legislature and governor of Arizona are considering the final stages of legislation that would effectively province a "faith based exception" to standing anti-discrimination laws that would allow shop owners to turn away gay customers.

Lets be clear, there is no denying that the generic banner of "Christianity" has been a rallying point for ultraconservative bigotry since the colonial period, and in many instances, long before. That being said, the religions of today are mostly not the government endorsed, social institutions of generations gone bye. Faith now is about you and God, at least here in the US. Anything else beyond that is your choice.

While I do vehemently and ardently oppose all three of the examples cited above, what I need people to understand is that I am NOT opposing Christianity, I am not turning my back on my faith, and I am not embracing an anti-theistic agenda. I do not blame a religion, a faith, or even the concept of faith for what has happened here. I also do not consider this a fight along moral lines, and am hesitant to apply "morals" to this conversation. Also, when I call myself a Christian, I do not consider myself in the same group as any of the aforementioned politicos.

I am a Christian, but hate is not part of my faith. 

I don't want to take away anyone's right to call themselves Christian, and I don't have the moral, ethical, or spiritual authority to stand in judgement of another's claim of faith.

But I also am not beholden to the philosophies of another just because we both call ourselves "Christian". 

My faith is mine.

but please remember as we go forward in these conversations of religion and human rights, whatever I do call myself, hate is not my faith.

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