Thursday, October 17, 2013

To my loved ones who choose to practice religion,

Your faith is real. It is something beautiful. Don't let society's constant attacks on it wear you down. Remember why you believe. Remember the wonderful things God has given you. Write down the miraculous experiences you've had and don't let anyone tell you that they didn't really happen. You know they did!

You are not a sheep because you hold onto your faith. You are not ignorant or misinformed. You are not close-minded. You are not less intelligent. You have chosen to hold onto your faith, and you have a right to make that choice.

People have a (God-given) right to believe what they want; each person has the right to choose his or her own path, or even to choose not to believe in anything at all. Like me, I'm sure you have plenty of family and friends who believe differently than you do and that's how it should be.

But that doesn't mean that your decision, as a religious person, to believe what you believe has less value. You have just as much right to worship according to the dictates of your own conscience as someone else has to believe in nothing. Open mindedness goes two ways. Don't let others who try to be different or progressive make you feel like your sameness or traditionalism makes you a bad person.

It's popular right now to be skeptical, critical, or hateful toward traditional religion and the practicers of faith in God. It's cool to attack the ubiquitous religious "hypocrites." People keep saying we all need to be open-minded, but it feels like we all need to be open-minded in the same way that they are, or it doesn't really count. 

Come on, fellow believers, we need to (lovingly) fight back and defend our faith! We need to stand up and say, "Yes! I do believe! I am not perfect, but that's why I go to church! I'm trying my best! God exists! I am happy! My life has a purpose and a meaning and I am so grateful! We all have the right to believe what we want to!"

You may have seen a movie called HAPPY -- A Documentary (2011).  IMDB says: "HAPPY takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion." The movie discusses community, compassion, and many other contributing factors to the happiness of mankind.

In this documentary, one hour and thirteen minutes long, there is a snippet one minute and thirteen seconds long that pays the following tribute to organized religion:

"We all need something bigger than ourselves to care about. And for some people structured religion gives that to them.

[video of people worshiping in a Catholic church]

For other people, they don't believe in that kind of uh, structured religion, but they have

[peaceful, pretty piano music]

compassion, caring, gratitude, and these spiritual feelings that connect them to the universe, and connect them to other people. Now one of the other things we know is that not all religious people are happy, or not all religions are happy."

[creepy, ominous music]

A crazy-looking lady on TV: "If you do not obey the commandments of your Lord God, then he'll curse you."

News footage of people vandalizing and destroying: "According to church leaders, Hindu radicals were opposed to the event and began attacking Christian homes and churches."  

Interview with a man: "How do you feel killing Muslims?" "I enjoy it, I killed one, came home and slept."

Iraqi TV footage: "Even the stone will say, 'Oh Muslim, A Jew is hiding behind me, come and cut off his head.' "

Interview with a man: "There are certain conditions, according to Jewish law under which non-Jews may live here. This doesn't apply to the Arabs. They don't fit the category. They have to get the hell out."

[footage of people carrying signs, one which says "God hates {crude word for homosexuals}"]

"If you look at the very fundamentalist groups, who believe that everybody else is going to hell but their group, they are not happy, or they are less happy than other people."

[end creepy music]
[Moving on to the next section, the documentary talks about how happiness might make people live longer...]

Not only is this nod to religion as a possible contributor to happiness only one minute long, but it also only tells one side of the story: Religion causes hatred and oppression. In my opinion, this sentiment seems to echo popular opinion pretty well, but it just isn't fair.

What about all the happy people who practice their religion, who would probably attribute much of their happiness to faithfully practicing that religion? What about all the good religion has done for society? I am happy in my faith, and thankful to God for everything He has given me. I know religious people from all different faiths who find joy in worshiping God in their own way. And who serve their communities better as a result. This country was founded on freedom of religion (not freedom from religion), and that freedom makes me happy.

My religious friends, remember the beautiful things your faith has brought you. Your faith is just as valid as any theory about the origination of the universe. Your faith is just as valid as someone else's opinion that your faith is baseless. Your faith is just as valid as any "proof" someone may have that your God doesn't exist. You should respect the right of others to have their own beliefs, and they should, in turn, respect your faith.

To my friends everywhere, religious or not religious: I will try to do better at accepting and loving you and allowing you to be who you are, and I hope that you will do the same for me.

God bless you.

it took my faithful ancestors forty years to build this house of worship.


Heidi said...

Lovely, Adele. Thank you.

Brian, Emily, Charlie, and Lucy said...

This is AWESOME. Thank you for sharing your strength and testimony! You are the bomb.

Steph said...

Yeah! You rock. I thought that sad little nod to religion in the documentary was just not enough. I'm so glad that you shared this and that you're always such a good example!!

Jennifer Kunz said...

Sounds like you'd enjoy this clip that's making the rounds.

merrilykaroly said...

Jennifer-- that was awesome. Thanks!!

Camilla Cole said...

Rats, I made a comment on this the other day, but it must not have gone through.

I love this post. I think there's a difference between just kind of nervously (even if you're solid) and quietly believing something, and being proud of it. And the constant onslaught against organized religion is shameful. I'm glad you're proud to own what you believe. No one should ever attempt to shame someone else for being sure of something, no matter what it is.

Love ya!

Linda said...

I had that smiley face movie on my Netflix queue to watch later, but now after reading what you said about it, I don't even want to see it.
Here are the links to the ariticles I told you about: and

Linda said...

Sorry for the typo. I meant "articles".