I think I’ve mentioned on this blog somewhere before that I’m a fairly religious person. I come from a big Irish Catholic family, and I’m proud of that. My great uncle is a Priest who has done amazing things, my great aunt was a nun. I go to church every Sunday because I want to. I enjoy it.
It seems that I’m on the defense a lot these days when it comes to my faith. I don’t know a lot of twenty-somethings who are particularly religious, although I know they’re out there. But there’s also a lot of hate for people who are religious – people assume that because I’m a Christian, I hate gay people. I’m intolerant. I’m judgmental. I think everyone who isn’t Christian is going to hell.
Well, that’s some hateful, judgmental thinking, isn’t it?
Catholics support gay marriage by a margin of 52% to 37%, with the remaining percentage being somewhere in the middle waters of uncertainty. I happen to be in the supportive majority. The Catholic Church itself does not condone gay marriage, but it also does not believe that people go to hell simply for being gay.
Being lumped in with extremists can be frustrating. Saying all Christians are hateful homophobes is like saying all Germans are Nazis, or all Muslims are terrorists. You’ve seen the crazy outliers, and you make an assumption based on that. Even the Catholics I know who are against gay marriage are not hateful, angry people. They believe everyone should be treated with respect as a human being and child of God, regardless of color, creed, or sexual orientation. They do not treat a gay person any differently than a straight person in day to day life.
The unfortunate truth, of course, is that there are plenty of people with hate in their hearts who also identify as Christians. And those are the people you see, because they’re the ones who make the news. They’re the ones who are constantly spouting off. The group with angry signs is the group that makes the front page, not the church group that showed up to support an LGBTQ rally. The group spouting hate against other religions gets the top story, not the group who formed a circle around praying Muslims to keep them safe during a riot in Egypt.
So some religious people hate those who are different than them and believe they’re going to hell. Some (I like to hope most) religious people don’t. The long and short of it is that you have no idea how someone thinks unless you talk to them. I don’t stop a conversation with someone because I find out they’re a republican and I’m a democrat. I don’t stop a conversation with someone because I find out they’re an atheist and I believe in God. And I try very hard not to stop a conversation when I find out that someone does not believe in marriage equality, and I do. Sometimes it’s really difficult not to lay down judgment about someone when you find out about some aspect of their views that you strongly disagree with. But for the love of all that is good, we’ve got to try. Even when it seems impossible.
We’ve got to try to keep conversations going, because conversations can change things.