There are two things we all know not to discuss: politics and religion. While I hate talking politics, I don’t actually mind talking religion.
I grew up a Christian, and I still proudly identify as one today. To me, being a Christian means more than having a religion; it is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe he died for our sins on the cross. I believe he accepts all people, all sinners, for who they are, regardless of the mistakes they made.
Not everyone believes the way I do, and that’s okay. Although I would love for everyone to know Jesus the way I do, I know a lot of people are turned off by Christianity. And a lot of people discriminate against Christians.
You read that right.
I recently read “The Voice from Within” by Souheila Al-Jadda. Her concluding sentence of her article is “…I will continue to tell my story. I encourage you to tell yours.”
So here is my story.
I was born and raised in a Christian household. When some people think of Christians, they automatically picture people like the Duggars: dressed very conservatively, having lots of kids, etc. Christians are typically outcasted by their peers. When I would tell my friends I was a Christian in grade school, they would kind of turn up their noses in disgust. Or they would say “Me too!” but it turns it, they were actually Catholic (Christianity and Catholicism are similar but also quite different). Anyways, I never felt like I really fit in at school because it was weird to be a Christian. So I stopped telling people I was. Souheila was the same way. Instead of people thinking she was weird because she attended Sunday school and went to church on occasions other than Christmas or Easter, she was judged based on her dressing (her hijab). People assumed she was a foreigner. They would assume she was a terrorist. She did not really get an understanding of what Islam was until college. It was not until college she was able to identify as a Muslim. The same went for me; I now do not care who knows I am a Christian. I still find that Christians are harshly judged. Let me tell you a little story about a young woman whose testimony I find extremely compelling.
First of all, I cannot tell you this young woman’s name, for she or her family could be killed. She is from Afghanistan, and she grew up practicing Islam. She converted to Christianity. It is very dangerous to be a Christian in Afghanistan. When she came to study in the United States, she thought she could not wait to freely practice Christianity. When she first arrived at her college, people would ask her where she was from. When she would reply “Afghanistan,” people automatically assumed she was Muslim and would say things like “Oh wow! We love your people. We don’t hate Muslims!” When she would tell them she was actually a Christian, she received a much different reaction. She would get very weird, judgmental looks and people began to not treat her like she was special. In fact, she was asked to erase a Bible verse off of her whiteboard because the person found it to be offensive. Would this person have found a verse from the Qur’an offensive? Or the Torah? That I cannot answer but I am offended on behalf of this Afghan young woman for even being asked such a question in a country where we have the freedom of religion.
Am I saying Muslims are always treated fairly by society? No. Am I saying Christians are always harshly judged? Absolutely not. As a Christian, I know how judgmental some Christians can be, but I also now how judgmental others can be of Christians.
So here comes my point (finally).
As a feminist, I believe in treating others equally. As a Christian, I believe in treating others equally. We need to stop judging people based on their religions. Someone could love Jesus but be extremely judgmental and critical of others, which is wrong. But it is also wrong to think that way of all Christians, just as it is wrong to think of all Muslims as terrorists. Instead of trying to force what I believe on someone, I am interested in hearing their beliefs first.
And the same goes for politics.