By Tequila Cheatham
Growing up with family members who attended baptists church made it inevitable for me to attend one as well. Although my parents were not religious, I did not know enough about other religions to be bothered by the idea of converting. I was baptized with my bestfriend, at the time, and was on a spiritual quest. Not that I was lost, but I was looking for something higher to connect to, and something deeper to learn about life.
When I was about ten years old, my stepmother took my stepsister and I to church, and I remember asking her a series of questions about God. Questions about God’s existence, about bad things happening in the world, Jesus, and who created God. My inquisitive mind forced my stepmother to have the pastor of the church to talk to me after service. Although he answered to the best of his ability, I still felt like he did not know the answers, and I sure did’nt take that lightly.
I come across many people with different religious backgrounds. Never have I allowed our distinctions to deter us from connecting. Being a people person is a natural gift, and it is none of my business who the other person worships unless it intentionally harms another. When I first heard about the militant group, ISIS, killing people for not converting religions, my heart had sunken. There’s an old saying that goes, “Stand for something, or fall for anything.” I can not imagine someone wanting to end my life simply because I choose to be spiritual with no religious affiliation. It is a personal choice, and the way I connect to my higher spirit.
I’ve seen some Christians beat others over the head with the Bible. I’ve even heard others talk down on Muslims as if they are all militant and evil. It makes no sense. I’ve prayed with Catholics, and meditated with Buddhists; I’ve read with Muslims,and had conversation with Christians. I’ve even had deep discussions with Atheists. We use religion as another form to keep us from integrating as a human race instead of allowing it bring us together to collaborate ideas and information. I sat next to a women reading the Quran, and took interest in Ramadan. I learned a lot from our three-minute conversation all because I am willing to connect. I helped someone with directions one day, and even walked him to his destination. He asked if I was a Christian simply because I did a random act of kindness.
When we do not allow our biases to stand in the way of human engagement, it is then we will be able to forge life long bonds and vibrate higher which has potential of advancing mankind. Let’s use our religious beliefs for the good of the people. We do not need religion to teach us to be kind to our neighbor. We need compassion, consideration, empathy, and respect.