Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism. The list goes on. With 4,200 religions in the world, how is it possible that I have yet to find one that completely sits with who I am?
Raised by a devoted Christian mother and an even more devoted Atheist father, I was constantly faced with the overwhelming dilemma of being asked to define my faith.
My head swirling in a spiritual battle, I began feeling like if I did not label myself as one thing, I must not be a believer of anything.
It’s pretty undeniable that religion has strayed from its original intent. As history has shown us, faith can be used as a weapon and a way to divide, as evidenced by the Bible being used to justify slavery. Just as we now feel the pull between Democratic and Republican parties, our various religions have been pulling us apart for centuries.
Settling in for the night, I turn on my television and see President Trump praying to God, thanking him for what he has given the American people. After I finish gagging, all I can think in this cringeworthy moment is “that must not be my God.” I am not Trump’s kind of Christian.
“I’m a Progressive Christian, I follow Christ and his example.” said Liz Oyakawa, a 32- year-old executive assistant. “Jesus is a safe place to fall for me. I am getting into Buddhism though, because they can humanize our spiritual experience, it’s tangible. Buddhism always goes back to loving and kindness, and as Christians, were called to do just that. Also, Christians have more baggage in my opinion, people think they hate women, whereas Buddhism seems to have less baggage and comes from a place of no judgement.”
“I’m agnostic,” said July Cardoza, a 37-year-old California resident. “I’m constantly searching for answers. If I were to narrow myself down to one belief, I would be excluding a lot of people in my life. I don’t want to narrow myself down. I want the option to agree. I can learn from all religions.
So how can we navigate our own spiritual freedom? As I’ve grown older, questions have filled my mind. Why would I willingly attach my name to a religion that can be seen protesting outside Planned Parenthood, attempting to take my rights as a woman away? Can I still be a godly woman without my friends thinking that I’m homophobic?
Can I still enjoy the history of Catholicism, the surrender of Buddhism, the community and traditions of Judaism, the committed practice of prayer of Islam, and the spiritual kindness of Christianity without slapping a label on myself? Can I still drop to my knees and thank the Lord for my life without specifying which Lord I’m speaking to? I say yes. I don’t think we were ever meant to fit into one box, one category that we could simply check off and fulfill a requirement.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
- Matthew 5:16 (The Bible)
“God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just.” -Surat al-Mumtahanah, 8 (The Quran)
Whether you want to shout your religious preference from the rooftops, or dabble in each one’s history, I commend you. Believing in something bigger than yourself is noble—even if it doesn’t always have the easiest path.
Illustration by Tallulah Fontaine.