I'm sure some of you are already on the brink of rolling your eyes, but before you do, hear me out.
Thanks to recent attention surrounding Kim Davis — a Kentucky clerk who was arrested for refusing to give out marriage licenses to gay couples due to her religious beliefs — Christians are getting more heat than ever.
Christian group honors Kim Davis with award Bigotry, discrimination are things christians are proud of? #telllng http://t.co/qXkfmQAUIu— Big Sigh (@e1ais) September 26, 2015
And we continue to wonder why people think Christians are close-minded and self righteous.— Tess Klem (@tessklem) September 24, 2015
As a woman — and a woman of color, at that — I have a firm grasp on how it feels to be oppressed. Sadly, from the Crusades to the "White Man's Burden," Christians have often been on the enforcing side of oppression. With Christianity still being the dominant religion in the country, we are certainly a privileged group when it comes to religious beliefs, especially in comparison with those who deal with Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
However, religious people (of any following or group) are still constantly criticized and belittled. I've been called ignorant, stupid and blind all because I believe in a God who sent His son to die for me. That is my choice just as it is your choice to believe in Buddha, Allah, Winnie The Pooh or nothing at all.
A common misconception about Christians is that they want to convert every single person they meet. This is simply not the case. Do I enjoy sharing and talking about my relationship with a Creator who loves me so profoundly? Of course. Am I going to shove it down your throat and drag you to services and perform exorcisms while you sleep? No way.
If you're not religious, then that is completely OK. My goodness, I can't get across how OK that is. How you live your life is completely up to you. What's not OK is telling people that their god(s) aren't real, that their religious texts are fake, that the core beliefs that make shape their lives are useless.
Christians are constantly called stupid and immature for believing in a higher power. Believing in God to many equates to believing in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. Few people pause to consider that some Christians believe in and even study science as a career.
Every Christian is different and has a wide range of interests and hobbies. I have friends of different religious beliefs and friends who don't believe in anything. I have friends who go to church every Sunday and who are "ECM Christians" (Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day).
I have religious friends who aren't virgins. I have friends who are totally different from me; friends who have tattoos, piercings, who don't like "Back To The Future" (BLASPHEMY). No matter who you are or what you believe, we can all be more accepting and kind. Not all Christians are self-righteous, holier-than-thou Bible-thumpers here to condemn you and ruin your day.
For the former christian turned #atheist, the hardest part is accepting how foolish you were to believe such nonsense in the first place.— Brutal Atheist (@BrutalAtheist) September 29, 2015
I will openly admit that there are lots and lots of cruel and judgmental Christians in the world, ready and eager to knock someone down in the name of Jesus Christ. However, there are also lots of cruel and judgmental Muslims. There are cruel and judgmental atheists and agnostics.
Cruel and judgmental people make up a portion of every demographic in the world. There are also lots of kind, loving and open-minded Christians, Muslims, atheists, agnostics and so on. I would go so far as to say that these people make up the majority.
If you have ever been judged, criticized, looked down upon — or worse — by a Christian, then I am so sorry. That is not what Christianity is about. That is not what Jesus is about. We are not all Bill O'Reilly or the Westboro Baptist Church. All Christians should denounce any behavior by fellow Christians that is hateful and bigoted, choosing love and understanding instead. Not only is it the right thing to do — but it's what God would want us to do.
Christianity is all about believing in and following the teachings of Christ, a man who was the epitome of love and acceptance. Many Christians are still trying to follow in those impossibly enormous footsteps. We fail and we make mistakes, just like everyone else.
Believe what you want to believe and let me do the same. When you hate us all because of the actions of a few, you're doing the exact thing that Christians have been called out on for years: judging.
Kim Davis should be praised for living her beliefs
Christianity not at risk - here, at least
Reach the columnist at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @noelledl_
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.
Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.