Religion is a powerful thing. It can bring peace of mind to those who feel alone, but war and oppression to those who refuse to subscribe to its doctrine.
For the Black community, religion is a light in a dark world. A reason to hope in a world where being Black has been deemed a sin, a stain you couldn’t remove from birth. Knowing there was a God, a wrathful God who stood behind us in our darkest moments empowered people who went on to change history.
But my path has been different. Turbulent.
See, growing up I was Christian because I was told to be. I was born into it, saying prayers every night and going to church every Sunday.
I didn’t understand what I was reciting, but I’ve been saying those prayers since I was a baby. As I got older, I started asking questions of the community in which I was raised.
Scripture states in John 8:7, “He that is without sin shall cast the first stone.” If we’re taught not to judge, why is it that people in the church who claim to follow this consistently judge others?
I have been a victim of this. I’ll never forget the time my dad brought me to church the day I only had a crop top to wear. Finding out the same women who spoke with me and smiled every Sunday were talking about me behind my back—as if I was some harlot—was eye-opening.
I got older. I got tattoos and piercings. I made up my mind about God and his view of homosexuality, deciding someone else’s sexuality wasn’t my business.
I’m a feminist, politically outspoken, tattooed, artist, with piercings and an ally of the LGBTQ community. For a long time, I felt like I didn’t fit in. To this day, I still get fussed at for my tattoos and piercings because they are seen as defamations on my temple—my body—instead of art.
If my tattoos aren’t art, neither are the chandeliers and paintings hanging in churches.
Why condemn me when that’s not your job?
We are not judges, juries or executioners. Who are we to speak for God as flawed as we are? I leave all the judgment to His hand. Little do people know, I talked to God before I got anything done and I don’t think He minds.
There are more things to be upset about than LGBTQ kids. There are worse things than kids who express themselves non-traditionally or kids who don’t personally connect with the sermon so they do things like reading or are on their phone.
I’d be more upset about the people who only read the Bible when their Pastor tells them to instead of researching questions for themselves. Or, people who read one piece of scripture but not its context, and weaponize it.
We should bring up the fact the Bible has consistently been tarnished by sociopolitical agendas, such as slaveowners and anti-gay committees who mistranslated homosexuality instead of pervert. They saw homosexuality as perversion so when they came across that word they translated it to homosexual.
For a long time, these were things I couldn’t talk about. If I admitted out loud that I lost faith at times or didn’t hate the gay community, I felt I was wrong. If I was more accepting of other spiritualities and religions or felt some Christians need to mind their business, I’d be shunned. I’d be seen as something wrong, just short of an abomination.
But I found a whole generation of people who think like me. I found people in my community who think as I do. Through conversations and new members, I noticed people who go to my church agree with me on certain things that I didn’t notice before.
The world sees Christians as over-the-top, judgemental, hateful people. I can’t blame the world for seeing us that way when, at one point, part of our community behaved that way.
As a young, out-of-the-box-thinking Black girl, I know change is coming, and change is a beautiful thing.