Religion has become a topic that is either entirely condemned, condemns others, or is completely ignored. I believe that religion has a place in society, but that it shouldn’t come at the cost of the condemnation of others.
On Monday evening, I was working at the movie theater, which mainly consisted of me tearing tickets and directing customers towards the auditoriums of their movies. One of the downsides of working at the Warren theater is that working the evening shifts usually requires staying late into the night. Typically, staying late is monotonous and consists of standing in a hauntingly empty lobby, watching the occasional late-night moviegoer leave their movie. However, in the case of Monday, I was fortunate enough to have good company — one of my managers finished her paperwork early and came into the lobby to talk to me for the rest of the shift. We tackled the usual conversational drivel; “How are you doing?”, “How was your shift?”, “Does this job also kill you inside?” However, after a while, we somehow got on the topic of modern society, and more specifically, the role of Christians in it, and how being religious in modern society has a negative stigma attached to it in most contexts.
Being religious in modern society is a subjective experience for most, as it largely depends on how seriously you and those you surround yourself with practice and view religion. I’ve seen people condemn religion, and I’ve seen people praise it as the pillar of morality and community in the world. This presents the age-old question: Is religion more harmful than it is good? In the Old World, there’s no denying that religion was more harmful than it was good. Wars were fought over religion, those who had different beliefs than others were slaughtered like cattle, and most importantly, those values of intolerance and disgust for the unconventional began to dictate the formation of communities. For instance, the colonists stripped Native Americans of their rights and would only give them their rights back if they stopped practicing their spiritual beliefs and assimilated to the religion of the colonists.
That being said, it’s a tough question to answer in regards to modern society. We’ve all seen bigoted Facebook users with their own sense of self-veracity condemn others in the comment section, vehemently attacking them as if they were reviving the Spanish Inquisition with a mouse and keyboard. In my own religious experience as well as observing other religious practices, I can say with full confidence that religion has never been the problem, but rather, the practice of it. I’ve seen kids brainwashed into believing that talking to or being in the presence of homosexuals is wrong. I’ve seen adults treat others as inferior because they don’t share the same beliefs as others.
As a Christian, I believe that religion exists to bring us together, and although we all might not share the same beliefs, tolerance and acceptance are characteristics that society needs to strive towards. I grew up learning that Christianity is about love and community, regardless of what others believe in. Religion doesn’t exist to separate us and condemn others, but rather, to instill faith within us, and guide us through our own lives. Those who do not practice religion are also not at a disadvantage or are lesser people because of it.
The main point I want to state is this: Everyone has their own beliefs and truths in life. Even if your own truth isn’t the same as someone else’s, that doesn’t make their truth any less true to them.
Let people believe in what they want, hell, even talk to them about their beliefs, and you might be shocked about how similar religious values can be. Being a good person has nothing to do with what you believe in, and everything to do with how you act.