*** I apologize in advance for the seriousness of this post. I was reading an article about religion online and that got me thinking. ***
I was asked not too long ago whether I was religious or not. My response? "I'm spiritual." The answer was not good enough for the questioner. He was asking a specific question and expected a specific answer: yes or no. The thing is, I couldn't really answer it definitively.
I grew up in a household where you could choose your own religion. My dad was a non-practising Anglican and my mum was brought up in the United Church in Scotland. My brother is now a converted Catholic and I'm living with a non-practising Catholic and a practising Buddhist monk. I've visited many a church and read up on a variety of religions, including the Mormons, Buddhism and Muslim faiths. All have their own gods, their own rules and their own rules for exclusion.
In college, I was exposed to the evangelicals. A friend of mine had joined a specific group. She was adamant that her church, her practices, her god was the law and anyone outside of that circle was wrong, that they were not worthy of an after-life. It was her job to "save" me, to bring me into her fold and secure my spot in heaven. She used trickery to have me attend a "party" with her, only to find out it was a bible reading and I was fresh meat.
I'm not surprised that so many people were part of this group: it practised inclusion to those invited, and for a girl searching for her acceptance, her place in life, it can be an alluring prospect. But what this group failed to do was to practise acceptance of all people, of all creeds, religions and orientation. Opinions are accepted only if it's the status quo of the group.
I have a picture on my fridge. It's a card from my cousin's Catholic church for a donation that I made almost a year ago. It came in the mail and I thought it was a joke, forgetting the $50 that I donated to the church in lieu of a gift. It was at my cousin's request and didn't think anything of it. Jesus now has a spot on my fridge, but that same "savior" now wears glasses. Sunglasses, and he wears them at night. I think every diety can enjoy a little levity.
In answer to the religion question: I am not Catholic, I'm not Anglican, I'm not Muslim or Seik. I am not Agnostic, and as much as I joke, I am not Pagan and my Catholic brother and boyfriend both joke that I may burst into flames if I set foot across the threshold of their church.
I don't think I'll ever choose one religion, as my parents, in their wisdom, have granted me that right. Those are limits I don't want to even consider. Compassion is my new religion and if that makes me an outsider, so be it. I'll have an open mind, devoid of any misconceptions or nuances, and that to me, holds a lot more weight than a membership in any club.