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Monday, April 06, 2009

Faith Perspective

This op-ed piece appeared in today's USA Today. (Is that redundant?) I read it with a multitude of thoughts in my little brain: 1) You can believe what you want to believe, 2) I can believe what I want to believe, and 3) I hate how "news" sources have comments.

The gist of the article was that once an Atheist was persona non grata, but now he or she is a more accepted - and growing - group in American society.

A reviled minority
For years, non-believers have been considered undesirable, untrustworthy and essentially reviled. I mean, in a country where "In God We Trust" is printed on every dollar bill, would you expect anything less? A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll in 2007 found that more than half of Americans 53% — would not vote for an atheist. No category fared worse. A University of Minnesota study taken a year earlier found that Americans rank atheists as the most disliked minority group in the country.

... Now that we of no faith are more willing to come out and be counted, we can start to change the perceptions that others have of us. As we speak out and make it known that we are atheists (or non-believers or any of the other names we can call ourselves) who can also be good people who care about our families, our communities and our country, we can start to change those negative perceptions.

The author goes on to talk about reconciling with her family, who are believers of some religious faith. The rejection she must have felt!

So, I'm not here to condemn this author at all, but I was thinking on how my experiences have been very different. I have only alluded to it on this blog, but I'm a new Christian. I've only begun my walk in the past two years and I know that while I've learned a lot, I fail every day and I still have so much to learn. What's been interesting to me is that my status as a believer (one of the 80% cited in the article), has put me into a minority in my peer and family groups. Perhaps it's because I've been in academia for way too long, or because I live in a very diverse city. I don't know. I do know that I could count on one hand, in fact TWO fingers, any of my friends who claimed to be "religious" until very recently.

What I do know is that I've been very shy about sharing anything about my budding faith, because I don't want the ridicule. I don't want the people who previously liked me to say the things I've heard them say about other people of faith: intolerant, bigot, deluded, etc. I can't think of worse words to describe me.

I'm sure these fears and worries make me a lukewarm Christian - which is another way I know I've still got a mile to grow. On the flip side, I do think about anyone who has that sort of separation from friends and family - the kind that stems from strongly held beliefs. It's hard to feel that segregation, no matter where it came from.

Forgive the tardiness of this post.


Anonymous said...

What an honest post. I loved it. I think the interesting thing here is the difference in perspective. The fact is that 80% of Americans *claim* to believe in some sort of religion, but the vast majority live like confused agnostics. Those of us truly convinced of a position - either in faith like you and I, or against faith like convinced atheists - are alienated by our convictions. Ironically, we tend to blame each other, when it is the "open minded" people in the middle who are doing the alienating.

AJU5's Mom said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say Christians need to be tolerant of others, and then they aren't tolerant of our views back! I have gotten (personally and indirectly) a lot of comments about how "stupid" I am for believing in creation. I just don't get it some times... other than the fact that Satan is alive and well on this earth!

summer and adam said...

I'm so glad to hear you are a Christian! I returned to the faith a few years ago myself!

I'm a little torn on the issue of tolerance. My perspective is probably strange to most people, but it's my view that we are to lead people to Christ by loving them. That doesn't mean being happy about their sin (or our own) but that we shouldn't condemn them, we were once on that path. Our love for one another, and for those who are considered "unlovable" should represent Christ's love for us.
To me we should be an example by how we live.
It really irks me how some Christians are condmening of others, because that will never bring others closer to Christ.
I always think that we should have a quiet aura of joy and love that makes others want what we have-- the love of Christ!

Just my rambling 2 cents!

Shannon said...

First, I want to say I agree so much with the three previous posts. I think they hit it right on the head. I am not an "in your face" Christian. I don't buy the legalistic approach to Christianity but many still do. I believe in opening my heart to Jesus and living my life to reflect my love for Him. I believe that is all I have to do. I will never be perfect on this earth and I am trying to stop feeling guilty about that. I guess my point is, don't feel alone in this walk. You never will be.