Listen, friends, we need to clear the air a bit. I want to set the record straight, if you will, and make my position clear once and for all.
You see, I can practically hear the thoughts churning in your head when I tell you I go to church. I can sense the questions in your mind when I say the word God (or god), or mention the word faith. You wonder if I am one of them, if I am part of the religious right and the small but loud segment of the population who call themselves “people of faith” and have hijacked the conversation about religion, spirituality, and faith by turning it into an intolerant political system instead of a personal belief system.
Well, let me assure you and set your mind at ease. Yes, I am a person of faith, but no, they do not speak for me. Not even a little bit.
The ones who want to legislate with their faith, while ignoring the faiths of others, do not speak for me. The ones who preach of the “one true God” with little respect for the other gods of many names and no names at all do not speak for me. Those who talk in tongues and double-speak, those who look to the holy book — their holy book — to judge and rule everyone else do not speak for me.
Yes, I am a person of faith. I am a non-Christian, a humanist, and a seeker. I believe in God with a capital G sometimes, with a lowercase g at other times. My god looks a lot like sunlight sparkling on ocean waves and sounds like the laughter of children. I am a staunch advocate for other faiths, and I will fight like hell for the right of anyone to exercise their religious beliefs — even the ones I disagree with — as long as exercising those rights doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. I am a follower of Jesus, a student of Buddha, and an admirer of Gandhi. I am a believer in kindness above all else.
Those other people of faith who hide scientific data, tout alternative facts, and look at issues of equality in shades of black and white do not speak for me. Those who hold their holy book high and pray loudly while committing sin after sin, injustice after injustice, do not speak for me. Those who believe salvation is reserved for those who think like them, believe like them, look like them — they do not speak for me.
You see, my faith is strong enough to handle the doubts and discomfort that comes with diverse views and opinions and ways of life. My faith is about building a heaven on earth right here, right now. My faith believes that actions are more important than beliefs. My faith knows that we are already saved, because we saved ourselves or didn’t need saving in the first place.
I am a person of faith, but those other “people of faith” do not speak for me. The ones who want to impose their religion on others, who believe that love only looks a certain way and can only be felt between certain people do not speak for me. The ones who want to bring prayer into schools and religion into government do not speak for me. The ones who want to shut doors and turn their backs on the hurting, tired, oppressed, and marginalized do not speak for me. The ones who prioritize profit over the environment, who protect their land while raping the lands of indigenous people, who swim in purified pools of water while ignoring the poisoned drinking water of others — they do not speak for me.
You see, my faith believes in protecting the planet, our dear mother earth. My faith believes in equality over profitability, connection over separation, forgiveness over vengeance. My faith believes that Jesus was a righteous dude, and an example of the potential of humanity to take care of each other. My faith believes that we all have basic human rights, including the right to not be killed by our drinking water or not have our sacred land destroyed by a pipeline. My faith believes in helping the oppressed, whoever they are and wherever they are.
The ones who use their religion to justify judgment and shame, those who use their religion to legislate the denigration of entire groups of people, those who impose their faith on others who pray to different gods or no god — they do not speak for me.
I am a person of faith who believes in the inherent worth and dignity of all persons. I wish to protect all life, including the life lying on the hospital table making the most difficult decision of her life and the incarcerated man on death row. My faith believes in justice, equity and compassion. My faith believes that love is love is love is love. My faith believes in the search for truth, and that science is real and undeniable.
The ones who snatch away our birth control and ban abortions while allowing social support programs to be defunded do not speak for me. The ones who want to build walls to keep people out and ignore our shared humanity do not speak for me. The ones who tout the holiness of chastity and shame the unwed mother, while looking the other way when one of their own molests his family members or brags about grabbing women by the pussy, do not speak for me. The ones who use their religion as a sword against anyone who doesn’t believe as they do, and as a shield against anyone who questions them, do not speak for me.
I am a person of faith, but the religious right does not speak for me. They never will.