I was excommunicated from my family unit at 14 years old because my mother’s religion convinced her that I shouldn’t go to college and that I must remain within her religion. I was quoted passage after passage of scripture justifying my excommunication and why the faith was right. And then I was given an ultimatum: Stick with the faith or you will be cast out and everyone you’ve ever known will shun you. Which in religious terms for me is essentially imposing your beliefs upon me and if I refuse, I lose my family.
I chose. I went to college and lost my family for 25 years. But I knew what I believed and the minute an ultimatum was given (and I knew it was coming), I understood the group dynamics of religion. I understood the fanatical need to convert you to a faith. It’s control plain and simple. And the whenever I hear the condescending phrases I hear that begin with, “Well, according to the bible…” I actually know exactly what I’m getting. This need to be on the winning side has little to do with God and everything to do with human group mentality and fear. I totally get that…but here’s where I break:
1. If what you’ve got is so good, why do you desperately need me to agree? If I’m not worried about the damnation you speak of, then why are you? If it was really that good, I wouldn’t need to prove, justify or proselytize anyone because I would be at peace with it. If it’s right, why do you need to argue, cajole and get me to co-sign on your beliefs?
2. Whenever religious beliefs causes you to act with less than your full humanity, that is the moment I know that this is some man-made construct that you’re latched onto and you will justify any and everything with this construct. See, cause if religion doesn’t make you better, a more expansive, clearer human being leaving the world better than you found it, then it’s not real. What it is in fact is your preparing to get into heaven. And the grand show of religiosity is what you’re doing to earn points with God. That I have no time or patience for.
Folks with a real faith are genuinely kind and nonjudgmental…because their faith is a personal relationship with their creator. It shows in the joy in their hearts and how they treat people. They are good just for the sake of being good and they are fine with me believing what I believe.
So, at 14, I chose to leave my family. I chose college. I chose the messiness that is sometimes life. I chose glorious experiences that made me a better human being . I went into “ the world.” My gay uncles were holding it down, putting family first. They stepped in and picked up the parenting without taking a breath. They saved my life. Did they agree with many of my choices? No, but they essentially believed that those choices were mine to make especially since I was going to school, working a job, preparing for college and finding a way to fill out financial aide forms and get myself into college all by my damn self. So, when you have a child trying to go beyond where you’ve been, good parenting dictates that you allow them to make their decisions and support them. Otherwise, all you’re doing is holding them down with your fears.
So, the minute I hear that condescending argument,“Well, the bible says…"it makes me balistic I don’t want to hear that offensive shit. Which brings me to the original reason I wrote this: Separation of Church & State is EVERYTHING.
Separation of church & state is critical. Otherwise, our society starts to move backwards to a time when a religion could decide to refuse to educate women or set rape victims on fire or justify slavery, etc
When a law is passed, I want it upheld and a person’s religious beliefs are not an acceptable excuse. If you swore an oath to uphold the law of the land and your job in some way conflicts with your religious beliefs, then quit your job. That’s the responsible, humane thing to do. That’s your religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution. It does not grant you the right to block another citizen’s access to their civil rights. Because when you do that, you’re essentially sitting in judgement of another human being and offering them that passive aggressive ultimatum: Join my belief system or suffer the punishment of my choice.
That’s exactly what that bullshit is…and it’s always expressed with crazy cheerful, humility and calm as if the victim of your beliefs must be crazy to not believe what you believe….
And this is why I have absolutely no desire to live in a society run by a religion. Look at how women are treated in societies where religious leaders get to dictate laws…it ain’t pretty…it’s actually pretty deadly….
My parents fought for civil rights and I want to live in a civil society where my rights are protected….
#dreamingoutloud #aprilyvettethompson #SeparationofChurchandState