If you read the post on Monday, you know that I had to buy a bible for my class. You also know I wasn’t entirely thrilled about the prospect of having to buy the book. Currently all my school books are stacked on my dining room table in order by class, and I left the Holy Bible sitting on top of one stack.
I was asked yesterday if I was going Christian by someone who had seen the bible sitting on my table. My reaction was a look of horror and an exclamation of a scoff an a huge “NO!”
Upon later reflection, I asked myself why I reacted that way. I’ve never been one to have knee-jerk reactions, and they are something I take issue with when other people exhibit a knee-jerk reaction. So when I do it, I must sit down and question why I showed a reaction that I so despise seeing in others.
I must make the point that I am not intolerant of other religions. When I decided Christianity no longer felt right to me, I researched as many other religions I could find on the internet and in the library. Paganism was the one that matched more of my ideals and was something I felt closer to, so that is the path I followed. And it has worked out beautifully. I do not feel any negativity for the variety of other religions that exist in this world, only a negativity for some of those practitioners who display intolerance, hatred, or fanaticism.
Sadly, my own experiences with Christianity have not been stellar. I have felt with it’s like to be misunderstood, ridiculed, and excluded by the people I was supposed to trust the most for nothing more than being different.
But during my search, I realized that the core tenets of Christianity, and indeed of many other faiths, are beliefs not so different from my own. Love plays a large part in many faiths, as does the idea of doing good and helping others. Faith and belief also play large roles. Knowing this, why then did I show a knee-jerk reaction of disgust and horror when asked a simple question in jest? If I already know that I do not mind the religion, just the people, why then the reaction when asked jokingly if I was going Christian?
I suppose it’s because I have known too many Christians who are intolerant of other faiths, and I do not want to be like them. I don’t know many Jews, and the ones I do know aren’t very religious in the first place and don’t mind other religions. I know few Muslims, so the same holds true for that group. I’ve known some Native Americans who are spiritual, but they don’t mind that I’m not Christian in the least. The only group who I have known personally to have a problem with other forms of faith is Christians. (And please don’t mistake me–I do NOT include all Christians in this, only the ones who decide to take others’ beliefs to task for not being a True Believer.)
So, knowing these experiences, I suppose it’s not a surprise that I would react the way I did. I don’t want to be like those people who malign me for my beliefs. Yet my reaction is almost as bad as theirs. Their religion, at it’s core, is not so different from the core beliefs of paganism–don’t harm others, love, etc. But I think this is also an issue that many former Christians who are now pagans need to think on. There are some pagans, either whom I have met or read their opinions on the internet, who I think are almost as bad in their maligning of Christianity as the Christians can be toward pagans.
The knee-jerk reaction needs to stop.