There is a knee jerk reaction among Athiests and Pagans when they hear something about a Christian. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? It's the eye roll, the look, the "Oh gods, what did those silly Christians do now?" reaction.
Frankly, I'm sick of it. It's silly. It is not a solution, it only perpetuates the same social ailment that prompted my post on Islamaphobia. It is an issue of acceptance and freedom.
You can feed me all the crap you want about "witches" being burnt at the stake and those evil Jehovah's Witnesses disturbing you during American Idol. You can tell me this is what they deserve for years of oppression. You can attempt to justify it any way you want. It is still religious intolerance.
My sister is one of the truest Christians I know. She is completely devoted to her church, her god, her belief system. Honestly, I admire it. It amazes me that she and I could be raised in the same home and learn the same traditions and end up so entirely different. I admire her faith because it truly appears that nothing can break it. It is strong. It fascinates me.
So when she posted on facebook that she wanted to know her friend's thoughts on gay marriage I was immediately intrigued. I was involved in the conversation and stated my opinion. I accepted her opinion. I know she loves me, and I know she loves my partner. When she was here last week with a friend we discussed religious intolerance.
She and her friend are both devoted Christians. Her friend was telling us that when she meets homosexuals she often feels she has to immediately say, "Oh, I may have gone to a Christian college and I may wear a cross but that doesn't mean I hate you!" I think it is sad that we all need this clarification. Sad for the Christians and sad for us.
Now, let me clarify before the emails begin. This does not mean we should allow others to use their religion to justify their negative actions. As a society we need to progress beyond the Witch Hunts and the slavery. Women have earned the right to work, vote and be recognized as human beings. There are members of the Church who would like to see this reversed. But those people are not the norm. They are the ones making headlines. They are the interesting Christians. My sister's honest and uncontroversial beliefs would never make headlines. In regards to gay marriage she feels "the Bible doesn't say 'Legislate one unto another.'" She went on to say "It is not my job to judge."
Give credit where credit is due. Follow the Christian belief of "Love the sinner, not the sin." Recognize that it is the individual person. There are Catholic priests who are pedophiles. Not all Catholic priests are pedophiles. Religion, in general, can be a beautiful thing. It can also be used for evil. The problem is when people can't separate one person from the masses. Recognize that they are individuals. McDonald's may be America's favorite fast food, but I can't stand the place. That doesn't mean I am not American.
In my home we often refer to the movie "The Blind Side" when discussing true Christians and what they should be. The woman Sandra Bullock plays (based on a true story, btw) is one of the truest examples of a Christian I have ever seen. She takes this big black kid who doesn't stand a chance and is entirely alone in the world and she invites him to her home. She trusts him. She believes in him. And, in turn, he changes her life for the better.
Another example is the man in the beginning of Les Miserables who protects the man who is robbing him in order to give the robber a chance to change his path in life. Those are true Christians. True Christians recognize their commitment to God by spreading the word where it is wanted. True Christians are not standing at funerals with signs that read "God Hates Fags" or kicking their teenage boy out on the streets because he thinks he is gay. A true Christian realizes their place is not judgement. Their place is love and peace.
Can we all meet in the same place?