God has no religion~Mahatma Gandhi

Today is the day when Christians recognize and commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Days like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, and Easter Sunday were an important part of my childhood and young adulthood. While I have since left behind organized religion and adherence to any one doctrine, I respect the reverence that millions have for these days that are holy to Christians and others.

Up until about 8 years ago, I struggled with religion. I’ve fought to keep it; I’ve fought against it; I’ve been confused by it; I’ve been angered by it; I’ve been encouraged by it.

I finally decided that I don’t have a problem with religion. I just have a problem with those who use it to claim the moral or intellectual high ground or to impose a worldview upon others.  So many people seem to assume that those of us who don’t go to church or who are unsure about our spirituality have no moral compass since we don’t believe in a religious doctrine that often dictates lifestyle or personal choice and belief.

I believe that whatever relationship you have or don’t have with God, The Universe, Nature, or whatever it is that you call a higher power (or if you don’t believe in any higher power), is a personal one and has nothing to do with religion. In fact, in a year where religion is undoubtedly going to play an integral role in the presidential election, instead of talk of separation of church and state (which is important, too), I would like to see more talk of separation of church and person.

I can only speak for myself, but I’m the same person, with the same values and morals, that I was when I once called myself a Christian. My religion or lack of religion doesn’t define me. I know many believers would say that their religion does in fact define them. And that’s fine for them. But should that same standard be imposed upon everyone?

Ethics, values, morals, conduct and the like can all be evaluated without knowing someone’s religious beliefs. In fact, it’s absurd to think that simply knowing the religious label that someone uses to define their faith or lack of faith would in effect change the way that person is viewed by society.

I don’t know whether our next president will be Mormon, Catholic, or a Christian who is too often falsely identified as Muslim. And when it comes right down to it, nobody knows what is inside someone’s heart and mind. And isn’t that what really matters?

I vote for mutual respect and consideration for all beliefs. It would be a good thing on Good Friday if we stopped using religion as a political weapon. Somehow I don’t think Jesus, the man, would have approved.