I want to believe in a God. I was baptized in the Episcopal Church at a young age, but my parents stopped going around my 4th birthday. No reason really, just life and a baby brother on the way, and they have never returned still to this day. In Junior and Senior High School, I loved reading about Greek and Roman mythology; their Gods of love and war, the sea and earth. But something else happened around those same school-age years, I realized I was gay. The how’s and the why’s of this revelation is really not important, I knew it was something ingrained in me, as i could not push these thoughts and feelings aside, and from what little remained of my brief religious teachings, God made me perfect, and in his image, so I was good to go, Right? I was still afraid to admit it to anyone, but I only had the regular fears of family and friends not accepting me, since this was clearly not the norm I was surrounded with. I didn’t even think about religious judgement.
Around my 15th birthday, after many years of selling butter toffee peanuts for a free ride to YMCA summer camps, I was able to become a camp counselor. (Realizing you are gay and spending summers in a cabin full of boys, is a story for a different day). If you only thought the Y was a big gym and daycare center, it actually stands for Young Men’s Christian Association. At summer camp, the Y served what I will call, “Christianity Light.” Every morning we would have “chapel,” that usually consisted of a few ‘Kum-By-Ya type songs, and a parable story about something like kindness, appreciation, and the like. There was also a “Rag” program, that was a voluntary experience about being a better person, and a little closer to God.
I liked the idea of being a better person and really took to the Rag program. Because of these summer camps, I decided to see what going to church was all about and went with a couple of friends from camp to one of the local Baptist churches. There was a band, and singing, and Sunday School, usually refreshments, and occasionally a little basketball or volleyball, so it was not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It took almost 7 months of attending before I really got the opinion of the Church on homosexuality. I guess I was naive enough, that I didn’t understand til then, that the reason family and friends didn’t accept gay people was because of religion. I honestly can’t remember what I thought during that time before realizing this. It was clear to me, that I was not cut out for a weekly church experience.
Although attending church wasn’t a good idea, I still felt the pull to be a better person, and liked the idea that there was a God or something, that has good intentions for us all. I became the all-encompassing “Spiritual,” in my mind after I stopped going to church. Let them believe in their God of wrath and persecution, my God wanted more for us, and was much more nurturing, than menacing. This belief served me well. I would try to be the best person I could be, still failing at things big and small like we all do, but there was still a grand-design for me to come out on top.
My “Spirituality,” was tested constantly, when I would have to hear stories about Jimmy Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ted Haggard, and of course Fred Phelps, et. al., and all of their fear and hate-based, anti-gay words and actions. Maybe there was just good and bad people in the world, no matter what their religion or non-religion. And there is no, “higher-power” who could really give a damn. Maybe these Agnostics or Atheists, have a point. I have long thought that the Bible is just a book, but it was becoming more and more propaganda to me, than just a good read.
I can no longer think of being a “Good Christian,” as a good thing. Between the political religious right and the pastors, they have converted me. I am now Agnostic at best, Atheist at worse. And now I don’t consider either of those things bad. I can not and will not idly sit by, while people speaking in the name of this religion promotes separation and hate. The Bible cherry picking and total opposite of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ has become the highest form of hypocrisy. How can you speak out of one side of your mouth that we are all sinners, and from the other side, say that we must denounce homosexuality more than any other sin. If all of us are sinners, and all sins are equal, why aren’t there more protests at other “Biblical Abominations,” like at farms growing two separate crops side by side; a clothing manufacturer mixing two fabrics, or protesting the lying lips of almost everyone in Congress?
My point of this entire blog is that we have come so far, that the “Good Christians” of Indiana, in their ivory towers of their House and Senate, have decided to enact a law that frees businesses and entities from serving the public, to those who they feel are opposed to their religious beliefs. Everyone knows that this is truly a thinly veiled law, aiming to allow people to discriminate against mostly gay people. Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, is said to be, “looking forward to signing the bill.” I cannot in good faith, call myself a Christian if I supported such a bill. As a business owner, I have decided to open a shop to serve the public, not just some of the public, but all of it, otherwise, I should not become a business owner. It’s a truly sad day when a religion converts you to stop believing in God.