Why I Talk About Religion and Politics

I promise that this post is not overtly political!

But it is subtly political 🙂

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately from people wishing they could block political posts from Twitter and Facebook. And I kinda get it. Kinda. Because some of it’s trash and terrible and we all grew up being told you don’t talk about religion and politics in polite company. And right now we are very much an US v/s THEM culture and it feels like we have to choose sides in a war we didn’t even want to fight the second we start to write something political.

But! I also want to speak in defense of people who do it well…from both sides of religion and politics. There’s a way to write about politics and religion that can help widen the scope of understanding to people who read your words. I’ve learned hard lessons over the last 13+ years of writing online, about how to convey my beliefs in a way respectful of others who disagree. I’m not perfect, but in my years I’ve had a lot of response from people who maybe changed their point of view after reading my words, or at least became more accepting or understanding of people who believe what I believe.

god-in-school

I saw this posted on Facebook several years ago and decided to take that opportunity to write about why memes like this (you see a lot of them on my feed) are insulting to people like me. How they imply people like me are the cause of the problems and how they cause problems for the innocent children raised in houses with different spiritual and religious teachings. And also? How if you remove the separation of church and state for that one thing, it could be removed for others you might be less pleased with down the road. Like your Wiccan friends who may want to do a moon ceremony before the next football game.

I talked about politics AND religion in ONE POST. And you know what? Several of my friends pointed out they had never thought of that before, but they had shared memes like that out several times.

Here’s the thing, if we don’t find a way to discuss our religion or politics, we forget others exist. If you only heard about politics from Fox New or Huffington Post, you would think Liberals were all godless and brainwashed and Conservatives were all ignorant and bigoted. I avoid conservative sources of information (because there is not true “unbiased media” as long as humans are involved) so sometimes my exposure skews liberal. If I didn’t hear my friends post about their politics I might have a very distorted view of conservatism. And I’d like to think that if people like me didn’t post about politics, the my Fox News family and friends would not have human faces to those Damn Obama Liberals to counterbalance the hatred they see.

Do you see? If we all stayed silent then these terrible news sources we all go to would be our ONLY guide to shaping the other side of religion and politics. If I didn’t talk about spreading joy and bettering the world, you might think all atheists were just like the angry ones you see on the news. If you didn’t talk about religion, I might think all Christians were homophobic. I have one friend who has been publicly blasting her church for their treatment of a gay member while she stands by her Christianity, and I COULD NOT LOVE IT MORE. If she kept quiet about religion or LGBTQ politics, then I might not know there were people willing to keep their Faith but fight the Church on LGBTQ issues.

Yes. People can be close-minded and mean-spirited and terrible. If you and I could share a meal together, I would vent all of my bad experiences online lately. I’ve had some terrible ones. My poor husband hears me bitch about it every night. (Seriously. Are you local? Can we go to lunch sometime and vent? Because Donnie would really like a break.) But I still believe that the more GOOD and OPEN people who are vulnerable about their views, and willing to hear the voices of the contrary, we change the conversation. We widen scopes of experience. We put faces to opposition.

I had a VERY unusual experience with an authority figure at a school once. They were talking to me about the incidents my child had related to being told they were going to hell. I thought the conversation was going one way but then it went some place very different.

“So, I’m just wondering. What do you do? Do you go anywhere for something like church?”

She was just CURIOUS. She was so caught off guard by a family like mine who believed NOTHING. We weren’t Muslims or Jewish, both of which she’s surely encountered. We didn’t just have different religious habits. We had none and she was curious what that looked like.

She was a grown woman and we were her first direct exposure to atheists.

Someone once asked me how I talked to my younger kids about their gay brother. “I just say when they get older they’ll get urges to play kissy-face with people and it might be boys and it might be girls and that their brother prefers playing kissy-face with boys and then they yell at me for talking about kissing so much and they swear they’re never going to play kissy-face with anyone.”

If we’re open about our lives and our beliefs we bring humanism to a society that is nurturing anger with a war of US versus THEM. We remove the power of that war if we put down our guns and walk to the other side and just explain ourselves and our lives and our families. I’m not saying we all are going to agree, but it’s a lot harder to hate someone for their views when they speak them without hatred of yours.

So, maybe instead of banning all political and religions posts all together, we just learn to post what we feel and what we believe as humans and not as mouthpieces of a movement. And instead of using our words to attack the other side, we instead use our words to explain our side. I don’t want to overturn Roe v Wade because there are many women who need control over that decision for health of mind and or body. My support of Roe V Wade is NOT because I think abortion is a good means of birth control. I’m not saying listening to me share my story should change your mind, it shouldn’t. Be Pro Life! But maybe it stops you from assuming all Pro-Choice people are just sex-hungry sluts too lazy to use birth control.

If we share our stories…our vulnerabilities…the heart behind our beliefs…then maybe we stop viewing all of this as a war of us v/s them. Maybe, instead, we see beautiful humans whose beliefs are shaped from their own experiences of love and pain. Beautiful humans who have different experiences than we have, and therefore different priorities and urgencies. And maybe we work together more and find common ground in some areas. If you lost your retirement in the stock market your priorities are going to be economic, whereas I want all of my children to be afforded equal treatment and equal rights in marriage, so that’s one of my priorities.

Maybe we see a certain news cycle and we all agree to donate to a coalition against domestic violence even if we can’t agree on the motive behind a politicians words in that news cycle. We can find common efforts that make the world better, even if we vote differently or spend our Sunday mornings differently. But it takes being open and vulnerable (and I’ll say it…BRAVE) and sharing your own thoughts instead of bashing people for theirs. It doesn’t take bravery to call out someone who you disagree with, but it does take courage to stand up and say, “This is what I believe and why.”

Here’s to all of you being brave and sharing your stories every day. I do it on a bigger platform so I’ve had the benefit of people openly admitting my words have helped them, you might not have that. But please know, your words and your vulnerability DO help. You are providing a kind face to the opposition and that makes it harder to hate you.

And take it from someone who lives in a state where most of her views are hated.

It’s worth it.

vulnerability

3 Comments

  • Lisa

    As you may know, I did temporarily unfollow folks where there seemed to be constant political posts and/or folks being overly rude….just got burned out….
    I am not a fan of either candidate and am also not married to a political party….I would vote for a democratic or republican candidate if their basic values aligned with mine. I learned a long time ago to never say that you would be hard lined for/against anything because as life unfolds and things happen in your life it certainly changes your perspective and heart.
    And finally, I truly believe that past behaviors are most certainly a predictor of the future….so I guess I am a little sour on our options

  • Brenda

    I “almost” feel like this was written for me because I posted one of those hide political post memes yesterday 🙂 My main reason for posting it yesterday is that I have very very conservative Republican family that have been posting horrible things constantly. These are 2nd & 3rd cousins who I don’t have much contact with other than Facebook and an occasional family reunion. One has seen people posting or liking other people’s posts and then she follows them to that post and posts her own rhetoric or questions if those people are Christians etc–people that are not even her friends. It’s really sad. I believe everyone should be able to believe what they want and vote how they want–isn’t that what our country was founded on? I just don’t want it crammed down my throat constantly.
    I do have to say that your blog has helped me to talk to my family about my religious (or lack of) beliefs. I grew up in a very conservative religion and I just don’t feel that those beliefs are what I believe any more. I didn’t raise my daughter in church but I have taught her to respect other people’s beliefs. She asks what to do when everyone else prays at an event and I’ve told her to just bow her head and think good thoughts. She doesn’t have to believe or follow what they are saying but she does need to respect their time. I have tried to talk to her about all kinds of things–she has an uncle and cousin that are gay so we’ve talked about that for a long time. How love is love no matter who you are.
    I’m just burned out on this election. It has gotten so ugly and so just plain weird. I’ve voted since I was old enough to and have always tried to vote for the issues but this year is just a mess. May the odds ever be in our favor 😉