This You Believe

  1. >I am a Christian, about to convert to the Catholic Church. I’ve been in protestant churches all my life, but now I feel like those darn Catholics have found something I’ve been missing. It feels true and whole, and I’m excited about it. On the other hand, I feel that I will probably never know exactly what God wants from me (us). He is too great for me to understand fully what awaits us. I can’t condemn others for their beliefs, because only God can see our true hearts…I’m no judge. All anyone can do is inform themselves, and do what they feel is right. Thus, Catholicism is where I’ll seek to follow Christ.

  2. Darth Doc says:

    >I’m a life long Roman Catholic. It always seemed the natural fit for me, not something rammed down my throat by family and educators. Perhaps it had to do with belonging to a parish with very loving, caring, pious and devoted monks. Probably having gone to a Quaker School (much like Sidwell where Malia and Sasha Obama are going, with less politician parents) lent me alternative religious perspectives (due to learning about Quakerism, my classmates faiths, and eastern religions through the curriculum) such that when I was confirmed in 8th grade, I was happy to confirm my Catholic Faith.Those of us who embrace religion are far from perfect, and we are the first to acknowledge that. I personally believe that those who shun organized religion either had a bad experience, or some other issue.

  3. Diane says:

    >Let’s say saved by a personal belief in the atoning blood of Christ, firmly standing on the Word of God, trying to live out her life in a way that grows Christlike character.Or, if you have time, go read my blog – post tags “faith”.As This Heavenly Life said, only God sees our true heart. While I see Scripture showing only one way to heaven, I don’t see it saying there is only one denomination, if you get my drift.

  4. Amy says:

    >I attend a Presbyterian church, but not regularly. Prayer and devotion are not a part of my day-to-day life. I believe in God, but I don’t believe He’s as involved in our daily lives as most Christians think He is. I believe in reincarnation, too, though. After all, if God can do anything why couldn’t He send us back for another round? I believe that the Bible is a guide to a happier life – if you don’t kill people you’re going to experience less hardship than someone who does, for example. I believe in consequences. I believe in ghosts, but I don’t think they can hurt us. I do believe that, with effort, our lost loved ones can influence things that happen in our lives for the better, but they save it for the important stuff because it takes a lot of energy. I believe in love, and that love never ends. I believe that we are Heaven for people who’ve already passed, and that watching us live our lives and learn is what people who’ve died do all day.I believe in love, and learning, and that the purpose of life is to learn how to love, really love, and to learn as much as we can. I believe that in some ways Christ is a metaphor for the perfect love that we all seek. I believe in creativity and genius. I believe in celebrating differences and finding lessons in diversity. I believe in finding the lesson in (not necessarily the “meaning” in) adversity. I believe in doing what you want, as long as it doesn’t harm someone else, and as long as you’re willing and prepared to accept the consequences that come from your choices. I believe in helping people as much as possible, in community and friendship, and most of all in family – which is (or should be) the foundation of all that is good and whole in our world.Amy

  5. >I’m unsure. I grew up in a strict Christian household, and as the one person in my family that never fully accepted and believed the “Christian-ness” that my family forced on people, I’m the black sheep. At this point in my life all I can say is that I believe in something greater than myself. I don’t know what that is, and I don’t know what to name it, but it’s there. I believe that everything has a spirit. All living things have a spirit. Animals, trees, plants, people. I believe that I should treat others with respect and kindness. I believe I should respect other people’s beliefs and not push mine on them. I believe I should be able to ask questions about other people’s beliefs to either further understand their beliefs or further understand my own. I believe in love. I believe love can happen in many forms, whether it is one man and one woman, two women, or two men. I believe love is the ultimate healer and that through love everyone can reach a common ground. I believe in simplicity. I believe that rituals and “services” have clouded the true meaning behind faith. I believe that people have taken faith and made it into a ritual rather than something that you just have. But most of all, I believe in a person’s right to choose. To choose what it is that they believe. To choose what it is that gives them faith, to choose what it is that helps them through the day.

  6. >I am not religious at all and would have to describe myself as agnostic.I have no problem with religious people, Christians especially as that is the majority of the population that live in the U.S., that quietly live according to the principles Jesus represents. Unfortunately, it seems to me that many Christians use religion as a club to keep other people down. It just seems that religious battles–among Christians and Muslims and Jews as well as others cause so much pain and suffering in this world.

  7. Gertie says:

    >Another Catholic here. I have been to many different churches but I have not found the same peace that I do in the Catholic church. There is something there that keeps making me go back. I also like the fact that I have gone to Catholic Mass in several countries and even though I didn’t understand the language, because of ritual, I knew what was going on and I still felt the same sense of peace.

  8. >I grew up in a very religious household. I’m talking praying in tongues, falling over in church when the holy spirit “touched us” etc…As I have grown up I find it almost impossible to believe that there is someone out there who is making all these choices for us in our lives. Too many devastating things have happened to me and my family, not to mention the rest of the world. Which leads me to believe that if there IS someone out there that is omnipotent he/she is not a good person/being/whatever you want to call it. The Bible supposedly says that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, well please tell that to the baby who is dieing of starvation in a third world country. Please explain to them how God knows they can handle it….(not speaking to anyone in particular, just thinking out loud)I don’t worry about what others believe as long as no one tries to preach to me or make me feel badly for how I feel. And actually it happens…alot of people try to change my mind or “explain” why God allows horrible things to happen to the innocent. Good for you, opening yourself up like this. You get criticism for the stupidest things on this blog…I hope you don’t get criticism out the wazoo for this. I love your blog! Tell all the haters to back off.

  9. Lisa says:

    >I agree with Jenn. I would say I’m agnostic, bordering on atheist. I believe in goodness and love for the sake of goodness and love – not because the bible told you so. I respect everyone’s beliefs, and while they may not be for me, I’m glad others have faith and find comfort in it. I believe in everyone following the path that feels right to them. I believe that when it comes to religion, no path is better or more right than any other. And I believe that we’d all be better off if everyone would focus on their own beliefs and let everyone else focus on theirs.

  10. Brooke says:

    >I actually just joined a non-denominational church.. uh, this past weekend. It took my husband and I several years to find a church that we feel “home” at.I’ve always had faith that God exists, but I have had a lot of trouble with organized religions and churches because many of them have been tainted with people that have their own agenda. So.. as far as what I believe personally? I believe that there is a God that wants us all to love each other and to live a life in which we try to resemble what Jesus Christ taught. No one is perfect, but if you notice.. in the entire Bible, nowhere in it does Jesus do something for himself. He is always giving, always teaching, always selfless. That, I think, is the ultimate goal and the key to heaven. Granted, it isn’t easy to be selfless and give all the time. It’s a process and we are human and will fall off that road at times. But the more I give, in whatever ways that I can, the better I feel about myself and the more comes back to me in return. And.. even if I’m wrong about what I believe? When I follow this… when I consciously work to put others first and live that lifestyle – that is when I feel fulfilled and happy. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

  11. >That’s interesting that you say that, Brooke. Because I’m finding that when I focus on others, my own life falls into place. And I think there’s definitely something to that- If we strive to put others before ourselves, we have a much better chance of finding happiness and meaning, as difficult as it can be to put into practice.

  12. WM says:

    >Brooke took the words right out of my mouth.

  13. Amanda says:

    >I grew up Southern Baptist, and got baptised because I feared going to Hell. When I met my husband, I converted to Catholicism as he was. After we had children, going to Mass was difficult due to the lack of childcare for children over age 3. As a result, I got absolutely nothing out of going, and honestly I despised it. I know, I know…30 years ago, children were absolutely silent in church. I just couldn’t deal with my kids crying every Sunday because they didn’t want to go to Mass. Now I go to a non-denominational church, and my belief in God is stronger than ever. I feel more connected to Him than I ever have. I am a Christian, but I also believe that God is in all of us. Have your stepdaughter read some of the poems by Hafiz…I particularly like The Gift.I love “Eat, Pray, Love”. That book really spoke to me and might to you and your stepdaughter, too. And I tend to believe that way…My God is accepting and loving, and I have a hard time believing that good people from other religions are going to Hell.

  14. The Mother says:

    >Confirmed non-theist married to a Jew, raising four boys to think for themselves. I have two atheists, one “deist” (he doesn’t like the “atheist” label), and one who can’t get a word in edgewise.I have to agree with Jenn—when you tell people that you don’t believe in a God, they treat you like a pariah. The knee-jerk reaction is that you are somehow evil, flawed, or satanic. It would be great if we could all be judged by what comes out of our mouths or what we do, not by which book we use as a guide to our lives.

  15. Cynthiaa says:

    >I’m Christian. I belong to a Christian worship centered church. I love it and *try* to attend regularly. I usually do. I go on retreats, take part in prayer groups, etc. :DI love it and find that it give me a great sense of self.

  16. musicjunkie says:

    >I grew up in a strict Catholic household, mostly due to my Grandmother. I was baptized, had my First Communion, and my Confirmation, the whole 9 yards. But even as a child it didn’t fit, which may be in part to growing up with a punishing God. Once my Grandma passed away, my rebellious streak came out like “a bat out of hell”.It has been my experience that MOST people who claim to be the most religious, saint-like, etc. tend to be the most hypocritical, judgemental, and closed minded. I remember watching my poor mother trying to be the best Catholic she could be, getting involved in the Church and participating in most of the activities. And she was greeted by a clique of women who were all smiles to her face, but once her back was turned they all trash talked her, excluded her from the parties people held in their homes and even tried to make her out to be a “home wrecker” when a couple of the husbands of said women cheated on them. They made celebrating faith a task for my mom, so much so she eventually left the church. It was hard to see grown women act worse than the mean girls one encounters in high school. My Mother is truly one of the sweetest people you will ever meet and it angered me that they treated her the way they did. And this happened at more than one Parish!My Mother has since found a group of people that read the bible, but also practice yoga, natural medicine, meditation, and accept her just the way she is. It’s not a Church, there is no specific religion associated with the group, just believers in God his goodwill and his word. It’s amazing the positive affect this group has had on her in every aspect of her life.Me personally, I’ve read the Bible, read up on Buddhism and Judiasm, and am currently reading the Koran. I began reading these to obtain an understanding of what others believe. What I’ve found is that at the core the message is the same. Many people have distorted that message to fit their own personal agendas, so while I am not a big fan of organized religion, I do believe there is a “higher being” whether it’s God, Allah, Buddah or Alanis Morrisette. I believe in mutual respect for ones beliefs, I believe in helping those less fortunate, and the morals behind right and wrong. I believe we can all coexist, if more people just climbed off their high horses and the belief that their way is the only way.Most recently Christianity and the Muslim faith have taken the hardest hits due to the extremist associated with both groups. And our media outlets as well. People are less tolerable, and are quick to point fingers and place blame without really looking at themselves and realizing that their actions and words don’t line up with their own beliefs.

  17. Anonymous says:

    >Lisa said it best for me.I was brought up Roman Catholic and do not practice anymore. The things that happened to me and my friends during that period of my life were tragic. I have recently moved from Cincinnati Ohio to Charlotte NC and the differences are staggering.I am kind of surprised that you feel targeted as a Christian. I feel completely out of sorts or left out because of not being Christian…..I guess it’s different everywhere. Parts of the South tend to focus on God and religion as a normal part of ones day. Where I’m from it was the complete opposite. People did not tell me that they’d pray for me when I had a cold or bless my heart within every intake of breath. I am not making fun or being rude, it’s just that when that stuff happens it is very awkward to someone who doesn’t think in those terms. Does that make sense? I just wish, no matter what, that people would respect the wishes and decisions of people as individuals. We should not be singled out because of our faith, no matter what it is, but I guess it’s just a part of reality that we have to live with because there will always be extremists who want to force their views on the rest of us or condemn us for what we believe. I’m just not one of them.

  18. >I grew up Catholic and I love the feelings I get from the church community. I like the routine of mass and I have very fond memories of going to church and making friends at CCD classes. That being said, I don’t personally buy a lot of the beliefs set forth by Catholicism. I just can’t personally believe in a God that would punish you for, well, anything. If God loves you no matter what then there should be no buts about it. Have you ever seen that movie Dogma? The following conversation between Rufus (the 13th and black apostle who also said that Jesus was black and hey, how do we know he wasn’t??) and Bethany (the female lead who has all but lost her faith) made SO much sense to me. Check it out:Rufus: He (God) still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.Bethany: Having beliefs isn’t good?Rufus: I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can’t generate. Life becomes stagnant. I think God gave us free will for a reason. My thought is that the purpose for us being here at all is to learn as much as possible from our own decisions and what we witness others experience (good and bad) and become the best people we can be. I could go on and on, but I’ve already written a novella here….

  19. Sarah says:

    >Well, I’m the lone Jew in the group so far, but I try not to define my faith or my beliefs by what I am or where I attend religious services. What I believe today…I believe today. Ask me tomorrow about what I will believe then.I honestly feel that faith is an aspect of my person (my soul? my spiritual existence?) that changes as I change, evolves as I learn and grow, and reflects the woman I have been and will one day the woman I will become as my life progresses. Some days, my faith is a struggle and other days, it comes quite naturally.I don’t really want to get into the specifics of what I do and do not believe so much, because where one day I feel that faith should be individual, another day I will think it should be communal, etc. Instead, ultimately, I suppose that there are only three aspects of my religion, of my faith, that have been consistent thus far, and those are what I’ll focus on here.1) I believe that living a good life, doing the best you can, making ethical choices, etc. amounts to much more than faith. Admittedly, this is so much a Jewish thought that I really look like a product of my environment when I say this. But I think it’s true, that every person, regardless of their religious identity, is doing okay if they’re living well. 2) I believe that life ends. I do not believe in salvation through works or faith or prayer. I do not believe in eternal life, in Hell or Heaven or Purgatory, in fire pits of eternal punishment or in pearly gates. I believe that the entire point of Ecclesiastes is to sum up life, to say “yeah, look, when you die, it’s all over.” I believe that there really is a season set for everything, a time for being born and a time for dying. 3) I believe wholeheartedly that faith is not related to love. Faith ebbs and flows, after all, an attribute I do not consider acceptable in love. Moreover, and this is something I probably pull partially from my upbringing but increasingly from my personal interpretation of Biblical characters, I honestly believe that if you have never feared G-d with every fiber in your body, feared your fate and feared His power, then you have not experienced faith in its truest form. Which means that, well, neither have I.Okay, I guess there’s four. I believe in having an educated faith/world view/philosophy, in being as well-read as you can and in educating your children (if you are raising them religiously). There is nothing that infuriates me more than a Catholic who is unfamiliar with the dogma of their religion, an evolutionary thinker who has never actually read any evolutionary literature, a Sunday School group that covers the crucifixion twenty times and never touches the story of Abimelech, a Jewish preschool class that makes creation calendars and never talks about Lillit (hello, Jewish fundamentals). I’m a big fan of taking an entire religion for what it is – if you pick and choose, that’s up to you, but at least be educated about it, at least know what the Pope is telling you or who the Judges were or what the supplemental Jewish readings are. And more than that, I’m a big fan of telling kids about faith like it is – tough. I believe in pragmatic faith, obviously, but also in well-educated faith. After all, when I chose my first crib mattress, I spent hours learning about them before I made my final decision. Why would I devote any less time to any aspect of my faith?

  20. Darth Doc says:

    >Tragically, it’s the humans that create problems with organized religion, typically not the religion itself.Flawed leaders, cliqueish “in crowd” types do not just plague the church halls, but the school halls, the work places, etc…I am sorry that folks had awful experiences, but I do disagree with Musicjunkie’s notion that: “…it has been my experience that MOST people who claim to be the most religious, saint-like, etc. tend to be the most hypocritical, judgemental, and closed minded.” My view (at least in the secular arenas of my life) is that the smug factor is highest with atheists (not all athiests, and certainly not admitted agnostics or deists) who worship blindly at the altar of “reason” thinking that only silly ignorant fools practice religion.In the religious arena’s of my life, there are always the busybodies that look down their noses at everyone and everything, too, but I haven’t had to deal with them fortunately, and none of them have been in any position of authority over me.

  21. >I grew up in a house with an Atheist father and a Baptist mother. Needless to say, I’ve spent my life thinking in the middle. I’m not a religious person at all but I respect other peoples’ beliefs and think that religion to some extent keeps people in check. I consider myself a good person who wants to be good because it’s right and not because I was told to. I was told once that some of my morals fall in line with the Bible and that’s cool, but I don’t follow that, just what I feel is good. To me there’s got to be SOMETHING out there but I don’t think it’s the mainstream interpretation of what is believed. There are dozens of religions and all think theirs is right. I think all are wrong in the sense that no one knows what happens after death but again, there’s something out there. I do have to say though that my biggest issue with practicing any specific religion is the fact that if our modern technology existed back when all religious text was written, there would be no religious text. Just my opinion.

  22. Cat says:

    >You are quite the brave little blogger, Lindsey to delve into this subject. I grew up Catholic in the Southern Baptist Dominated South, but make things even weirder my mom is Methodist (All of us kids went to church with my dad). I refused to be confirmed when I was 12 — I just didn’t believe in the Church.When my kids were born I took them to the Methodist church for a while, but really we don’t go to church at all anymore. Hubby, Daughter and I are believers in God and Jesus, but we don’t believe Jesus is the only way to heaven and that Christianity is the only true religion. Honestly, I think my 16 year old son is an atheist although he never comes out and says it.I agree with Anonymous in that it is more difficult not being a church-goer in the South than being one. My middle school daughter has a very tough time with this.

  23. >I lean towards Pagan/Wiccan, and earth religion.But I don’t dislike anyone because of their faith. That would be pretty hypocritical.I do believe Jesus was a really nice guy though. 🙂

  24. LisaB says:

    >I’m an agnostic, husband is athiest. We have an 8-year old son who we are raising to learn from all religions, then he’ll choose his own path. Most people do not take the time to learn of the similarities between the major world religions. I believe religion, or lack thereof, is a deeply personal decision and should be respected. We have taught our son to respect the faiths of others. Unfortunately, here in the Bible Belt, that respect is not typically returned to him. Honestly though, I find your comment concerning Christians not getting respect is interesting. We live in the greater Nashville area also (Brentwood) and find exactly the opposite to be the case. But again, the big message that I think everyone needs to abide by is mutual respect — for those with various religions as well as no religion.

  25. Janssen says:

    >I’m inclined to agree with you about Christians not getting a lot of respect. As a graduate student, I definitely feel it more than I have in the past.Anyway, I’m LDS (or Mormon).

  26. b says:

    >Apostles creed lists pretty well what I believe. I also believe that the goodness in most faiths of the world is contained within Christianity. I also believe that God is so awesome and so passionately in love with each of us that He wants us to treat even the most evil person with a level of dignity that most of us don’t believe we are capable of.

  27. Marsha says:

    >I believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. I believe in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Although someone need not serve Christ to be saved, their works or service are evidence of their faith.I serve the Lord by giving a substantial part of my financial blessings to my church, and by volunteering full-time in the Christian school associated with my church. I try to live my faith in all aspects of my life, but as a flawed human being, of course I fail at this sometimes.My church has the word “Baptist” in its title, but there are a huge range of beliefs and practices by those who call themselves Baptist. So although I’m happy to call myself a Baptist, sometimes I have to clear up misconceptions from others about what that means.I’m heartened to see that the discussions so far are civil. This is what freedom of religion means to me: that we can all have our individual beliefs while respecting and treasuring those who may differ from us. No one should be afraid of persecution when expressing their beliefs.

  28. >I should clarify that it’s very easy to say I’m a Christian and go to church as a resident of Nashville.It’s more difficult as a writer and blogger. I feel like particularly among the “mommy bloggers,” there is a large group of Christian bloggers and a large group of non-Christian bloggers, and not a whole lot in between.

  29. >I consider myself a liberal Christian… is that even possible? One who believes that church and state should be separate and we should live in a world where everyone’s beliefs are respected and people of all creeds and orientations should be able to get married. 🙂 How’s that for political and religious? 😉

  30. Jenny says:

    >I am an atheist SAHM in Franklin, TN. I haven’t come out yet. I’ve never *lied* about it; I just don’t make a habit of volunteering information. The other moms know I don’t attend church, and they don’t ask more, so I really think they don’t want to know.I respect others’ religious beliefs (provided they aren’t used to kill or otherwise harm people). I don’t mind chatting about religion or faith. But I can’t believe what I don’t believe.

  31. >I am a former Catholic who wandered and then turned Wiccan (not that big of a step really when you were raised in a highly progressive parish in the 70's). I believe the Divine lives in all of us & manifests in many different ways, showing each of us the facet that we need to see. Whether we choose to look is up to us

  32. Lisse says:

    >I decided I wasn’t going to subject my boys to the experiences my mother and I both had in the Catholic Church where (30 years apart) we were considered “bold children.”We’re now at an Episcopal church where my kids can be as “bold” as they like as long as they are kind to others. I rarely call myself a Christian. I feel the word (not to mention the Word) has been co-opted by too many who use it to marginalize and demonize others, which is, of course, exactly the opposite of what Christ taught.I guess I am a Diest, and sometimes an agnostic. I envy those who get comfort from their faith, but it is my nature to feel that there is something wrong with any religious constriction that puts one kind of person above another for any reason.

  33. nashvegas says:

    >Yes, Nette – it is possible, although I have been questioned, by members of my own family, how I could consider myself a Christian when I am a liberal Democrat.I was raised in the United Methodist Church, left church entirely for most of my 20s and half of my 30s, and feeling the need to get back into it gravitated naturally back toward the UMC. It was where I felt comfortable, but once I got back in I realized what a wonderful group of people I had fallen into, and am grateful that I seemed to come full circle.The theme of the UMC is “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” and it is true. You don’t find the judgemental attitude there that you find in so many Christian denominations. I attend church with families from several different countries and backgrounds, gay and lesbian parents and their children, doctors and lawyers, and struggling single parents. All there for the love of God and the people around them.Not a Christian? I’m more than okay with that – I would never presume to push my beliefs on you, but respectfully ask that you not jump on the Christian-bashing bandwagon that so many people are on, because of the judgemental loudmouths that give us all a bad name 🙂

  34. Miss Notesy says:

    >I’m a Christian. I believe Christ died and rose again, according to the scriptures.

  35. Jennifer says:

    >Hi, I can’t remember if I’ve commented here before, but this interesting discussion brought me out of lurkdom.:) I grew up Methodist and joined the Lutheran church after I got married. Love the liturgy (v. similar to Catholic liturgy, BTW) and the Lutheran emphasis on grace. As an aside, I did want to respond to Christian’s comment above…the saying that God will not give you something you cannot handle is NOT in the Bible. Good heavens, early Christians were being thrown to the lions. Who could “handle” that? I’m sure this will do nothing to change your opinion on anything, but I had to point it out, because that kind of platitude pisses me off. It’s usually said at the absolute WORST time. (I’ve also read that the majority of Americans think “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible, but it is not. Ben Franklin, I think.)

  36. >I am a saved by grace mom who tries everyday, but rarely fully succeeds, to live my life as Jesus lived his, as a nonjudgemental, fully accepting, praying, loving person who is trying to do God’s will in my life.I believe that we have free will, make our own choices and that God does not punish us for our action, however He does often allow the natural consequences to happen. There are also many times, I think, that He steps in and intervenes to save our behinds from our stupid selves. There is a reason why we are compared to sheep in the Bible. :)The Bible tells me that I am not here to be happy, healthy or wealthy, but to be a reflection of my creator and that living as such and believing in Him will lead to my reward, eternal life with Him in Heaven.I am married to a saved by grace Jew who knows more about the writings and teachings of his people than anyone I know. I have a 3, almost 4, year old and a 7 month old and we are proud to be members of a thriving, growing and loving Southern Baptist Church.I also believe that not every Christian is a judgemental, brow beating person like we are portrayed in the media. It brings to mind the squeaky wheel saying. Those who make the most noise and offend the most people get the most coverage.

  37. Mrs. N says:

    >I’m an atheist.

  38. nashvegas says:

    >Jennifer, I’m not sure who actually said it first, but one of my favorite sayings is “God can move mountains, but you’d better bring a shovel!”:-)

  39. >@lindseyi totally agree. the mom blog world does seem to be divided by christian and non-christian. isn’t that interesting that those lines rarely cross. i myself read both… and enjoy both.i love you’re allowing your stepdaughter to search while informing her of your beliefs and teaching her respect. great job keeping the lines of communication open!

  40. >I’ve always been raised in church for the most part. When I left home for college I continued to go to church. When I was young (Under 3) we went to a baptist church, then to a pentacostal, then back to baptist. In college I did non-denominational, which I liked rather well but it was too large for my husband and I to find a niche once we were married. He was always raised Presbyterian and I found that suits me best as well! So I’m a conservative presbyterian gal. My beliefs are summed up by the apostles creed:I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead;He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.Amen.

  41. Anonymous says:

    >Grew up going to United Methodist church, and that is where my beliefs fit in the best: open mindedness, and everyone’s welcome. I believe that is what church should be about. I believe in God, but have a very hard time dealing w/ people who are close minded, homophobic, etc. I don’t believe religion shoud be about following certain rules. Therefore, I am not actively involved in any church now. I consider myself more spiritual than anything. I feel that people have ruined religion for me. Maybe I’ll get more into it when I have kids.

  42. ValWatson says:

    >If your stepdaughter is interested in philosophy, an amazing book (if she hasn’t already found it) is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. I found it when I was a teenager and it opened so many new ways of thinking for me. It’s still fun to read as an adult and think about what my teenage self thought.

  43. Anonymous says:

    >I am a Christian who does better outside the traditional church. I like non-denominational churches that are for people who “don’t like church” – or as some people call them, Starbuck churches. I grow the most there for some reason. As an ex-Catholic, I think all churches have a dialect that reaches certain people.I go between feeling that Christians get a bad rap to being embarassed to be associated with some of the more outspoken ones. And being a Christian who voted for Obama, I don’t think my family really knows what to do with me. Aren’t I supposed to be an atheist or something?Karri

  44. Ringleader says:

    >I am a Mormon convert. I believe that families can be forever, that Christ is the Savior of the world and that we are all are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. I also believe that whe all is said and done, if I should find out that I am wrong- that I would not change a thing, I would still want to live my life according to the principles that my church teaches, because I know that my life has been better because of it.

  45. >I am really enjoying reading all of your comments. I feel like most of us are united in some common beliefs about love and goodness, no matter what the particulars of our faith, and that makes me feel pretty darn good about things as a whole.And Val, guess what? The conversation came about because I got her Sophie’s World for Christmas. And she LOVES it. 😀

  46. >My philosophy is simple: I’m Christian, believe what I believe, don’t push it on others, and while I’ll listen to other’s thoughts on their own philosophies, I tune out when discussing philosophy becomes being preached to. God knows what I think and feel; I reckon I’ll learn how it rated when it’s time for final tallying.’nuff said 😉

  47. Mooselet says:

    >I haven’t commented on here in yonks, but since I’m exploring this issue within myself a lot these days I’m delurking.I would consider myself agnostic with atheistic tendencies. My parents were very non-religious despite coming from Irish Catholic backgrounds and so we rarely went to church except for funerals and special masses.I believe we should be good for the sake of it, because it is the right thing to do as humans and not because (insert your God here) tells us to. Inversely things are wrong because from a moral standpoint they hurt others, not because we fear (insert your God here)’s punishment. It is a human thing,not a religious thing.I do not believe that God, if indeed there is such a being, created the Universe and all that’s in it. I do not believe that I have to believe in a god to feel I have a purpose in life – my purpose comes from within.I’m fine with people believing in whatever religion makes them happy, so long as that belief is not forced upon others. I get upset to see religion used as an excuse to oppress or kill other human beings. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state, and so really get my knickers in a twist when some try to introduce religious thinking into schools outside of a philosophy/history classroom. It is for that reason that I sometimes refer to myself as a Pastafarian with a firm belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.It is heartening to see so many people comfortable in their own beliefs that they respect the beliefs of others. People who give such respect to others need to stand up to those fundamentalists who have hijacked their religion – whatever it is – and turned it into something intolerant and hateful.Ramen. 🙂

  48. Kate says:

    >I’m a Christian, but I’m unsure of a lot of things past that. I go to church at least once a month, but we usually go 2 times a month. My 3 year old, Jackie, is very faithful and prays every night, my stepdaughter prays when it suits her, but she believes. I don’t pray formally. It’s more of an in the moment thing for me. I took Jackie to church so she could find out for herself who God is, and she did, and I plan on doing the same with my 1 year old, but I make sure my children know that they can believe what they want.

  49. Caroline says:

    >I was raised Christian, in the Catholic Church, although we fell off when my parents got divorced – Ooops!As an adult, I returned to the Catholic Church, and had both of my children Christened as newborns. But, as they grew, I suddenly realized that my beliefs were stronger outside the church. I found that the churches I attended were more about money, and competition, and less about unity in family and the strong family values that they talked about but didn’t practice. For example, we were among the very few who attended events as a family. Most people left their kids at home. The bible study groups? No children welcome, no families worked together to coop care of the little ones. Or, if there were, we couldn’t find them and none of the priests knew about them. But, boy, could they put on a bloody, horror filled passion play. And, not warn you.So, we left the church. As my children have grown older, and we now homeschool, I’m finding myself more and more turned off by hard core Christians. I didn’t even realize that creation was in conflict with dinosaurs until the past few years.As a homeschooler, I find it necessary to say “but not a RELIGIOUS homeschooler” or I’m treated differently. People make assumptions that my kids will say “ma’am” and “sir” and be subservient and silent. Both Christans and non-Christians seem to have this expectation when they discover we homeschool. My boisterous crew is quite the opposite of those things, and that’s a good part of the reason we chose to homeschool!I agree with the values of Christianity, for the most part. I don’t agree with the piousness or self-righteousness I see demonstrated by extreme Christians, however. Tolerance (although, really, MORE than mere tolerance – acceptance of all races, religions, lifestyles, etc), kindness, a willing to help others, those are the values I prize above all else.

  50. tutugirl1345 says:

    >I believe that there’s a God. At this point, that’s as far as my beliefs go. I was raise Episcopalian, but was constantly surrounded by family and family friends of many different religious backgrounds. My boyfriend is Jewish. I attended a private school who was run “according to the Judaeo-Christian ethic.” That’s probably the best way to describe how I live my life. I don’t subscribe to specific beliefs of Christianity or Judaism, but I believe in the common morals between the two religions.

  51. kittenpie says:

    >I was raised without a religion. I would expect to have struggled with this, searching around for something, but I have not. Instead, I have found myself comfortable with the notion that all religions have at their heart many things in common – things like rules about being a good person and treating other people well. In the end, I think trying to live in a way that allows me to be comfortable with myself accomplished much the same, without some of the troubling aspects that I find in many of the forms the organized religion takes. Still, I see that religion means much to many, and I have respect for people’s faiths – just because I don’t share it or really understand, it doesn’t mean it’s not real to them.

  52. Sissy says:

    >I’m lost. That’s the only way I can describe it. I believe in God, I have faith, I’m pretty sure I’ll get to heaven but girl, do I have some issues. in a word, Anna. I don’t know how to fit one into the other in any way that makes sense. all I can do it trust that there’s a grand plan and I’ll get answers someday.

  53. Mandy says:

    >Raised without religion, I have to say that I am an atheist, not an agnostic. I do not think this makes me an immoral or amoral person, because I don’t actually think that religion, organized or not, makes people moral. Overall, I think religion is used more often in a negative way (however subtly) than in a positive one, and creates more misunderstanding, inequality and rejection than acceptance.

  54. S.T. says:

    >I was raised Catholic and am now, I guess, agnostic. I think there *may* be something greater than me and there may be some kind of an afterlife, but I’m not sure. I think being kind to each other and trying to help make life better for others is what’s important, not whether you sit in a pew every Sunday. And I agree that being a non church goer in the South is difficult. It seems like a lot of socializing is done there, so it’s hard to make friends if you don’t attend a church.

  55. Zip n Tizzy says:

    >I grew up in an unreligious household, but was raised with strong spiritual beliefs. I grew up attending church with my friends and was taught to always respect the beliefs of others. I do believe in God, and I try to live my life honestly, with respect to others, and with a kind heart. The exposure I’ve had to various beliefs has led me to look at religion more as a language than an absolute. Just like the languages that people speak, religions tend to fit with the experiences of the people who practice them. As far as I can see, most religions at their core, teach the same principles. They resonate with people through their cultures, their family upbringing, and their personal life experience. In a world this large, with an expansive universe containing us, I like the idea that God would have many ways available to reach us. The important thing is that we use our beliefs to be respectful and compassionate torward one another and never use religion as an excuse to harm.

  56. Jes. says:

    >I am not a Christian. If I have to put on a label, let’s call it unaffiliated Pagan. I was raised by recovering Catholics to make my own choices which, for me, meant looking into as many religions as I could expose myself to.What I’ve come to believe is that it’s faith that makes things True. If you have true faith in *anything* then it will be there for you. If you’re a Christian and you live your life in a fully Christian way, then your God and your Heaven will be there for you. If you have true faith in God and Jesus and knowingly sin, then I believe that Hell and the Devil will be there for you as well.But I also think that faith in reincarnation leads to reincarnation. I think that faith in an absolute nothingness and an end to, for lack of a better word, one’s soul will lead to just that. Whatever you truly believe beyond lip service will be there for you, not only at death, but at any time. Death is the easy way to explain what I believe.I don’t believe that anyone is right and I don’t believe that anyone is wrong. I believe that it’s faith that gives power to dieties and the only way that one can cease to exist is when there’s no belief left in that god.I don’t believe that faith has any kind of right or wrong to it. I also don’t believe that there is a singular God who would cast out people for not having gotten the concept right. I believe that faith creates gods who, in turn, strengthen their believers.I think that’s the best I can do right now. In my head it makes a lot more sense, but it’s just way too complicated to try to write out…

  57. >I am, for lack of a better term, what you could call and Eclectic Pagan. I believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses, being tolerant of those who believe differently than you, and living life well. In my opinion, if you* find peace with God/Jesus/Yahweh/Allah/insert-whatever-deity-I-missed-here then great. Awesome, wonderful. Just don’t begrudge others the chance to find THEIR peace, even if it differs from yours**”You” and “yours” are meant in a general sense, and not directed and any specific person. 🙂

  58. Blueeyes says:

    >I was raised Catholic…I was 5 when I remember Christ coming into my heart. I was in my mid-twenties before I fully understood what that exactly meant. I no longer attend a Catholic church. I now am a member of a Christian Church. I am a Christian washed in the blood of Christ. I believe the only way to heaven is through Christ. With all this being said, I am not judgemental with other people's religion & I will never agrue with you over what I believe. If you ask, I will tell you what I believe.I like to call myself a Liberal Christian.

  59. alice says:

    >OK, how surprised am I to find that there are FOUR other Pagans/Wiccans in 58 comments? I think that we’re skewing your sample, but maybe we’re just way, way more common than surveys give us credit for. 🙂 I call myself a lapsed Pagan – I was much more into it 10-15 years ago, and while I still believe in the basic tenets that brought me there (there’s something beyond physical reality at work, nature is connected to that something, don’t be an a**hole), I don’t do much in terms of celebrating solstices, etc. these days. Growing up, my family were cultural christians (we celebrated Christmas and occasionally Easter, but never did church or the bible).Your point about how Christianity is often excluded from the PC ‘tolerance’ push really interests me. I have to admit that I bristle reflexively when I read lines like “I don’t think Christians get that same kind of respect.” Christianity is mocked in ways that other religions aren’t, but it’s also respected in deep, ingrained ways that other religions aren’t. You may get flack from hipsters or catty urbanites for wearing a visible cross or posting about the fact that you pray, but it’s highly unlikely that someone’s going to step back from you, eyes wide with fear, or grab their child back from standing near you the way people have when I wore a pentagram necklace or told them I was Pagan. I think that there’s a definite tension between political Christianity and personal Christianity – political Christianity being the way that some politicians state that their stance is ‘the’ Christian one, and the times when religious leaders advocate legal and political matters (gay marriage, abortion, etc.). For many individuals, their experience of Christianity isn’t focused on those disagreements at all – it’s focused on love, seeking peace and working to create a better world. It sucks when that personal Christianity gets dragged into the fights that political Christianity is embroiled in, and being mocked for your beliefs is never ok. Respectful disagreement is one thing, but mockery is just mean. I’ll admit that I still have to deal with my own wariness around Christianity, because for many years, I only saw political Christianity – getting yelled at on the street for holding my girlfriend’s hand, wondering whether I’d be kicked out of my friends’ houses if their parents learned I was queer, being told that I don’t have the right to get married, etc. (The general kindness that some people probably expressed as part of their Christian beliefs wasn’t labeled as such, so didn’t register in the same way as the shouting.)The vast majority of Christians whom I know aren’t focused on giving me grief – far from it! However, those very vocal and aggressive encounters above left their mark, and they’ve had a big influence on my emotional associations. I work to get past it, because it’s not fair for a vocal minority to dominate my thinking, but those are powerful experiences, and they’re not quick to recede in my mind. Hopefully, more of us will follow your stepdaughter’s lead and will keep learning more about the religious philosophies themselves. The ‘public’ faces of religions are always relevant, but they’re far from the complete truth.

  60. >I’m a Christian. I believe that accepting Jesus into my heart and believing that he died for my sins on the cross will get me into heaven. I’m one of the lucky ones who grew up in the church. It’s not so hard to believe that your step-daughter is thinking about this kind of thing…I’m only 18 and I definitely take comfort in knowing what I believe in.

  61. ValWatson says:

    >That’s great! I hope she enjoys it and you enjoy watching her read it. There’s something fantastic about being fifteen and being absorbed in a book like that. I hope you guys get to have some great conversations.

  62. Kathy N. says:

    >I believe in the fundamental goodness of people; I believe in global warming; I believe in my children; I believe in red licorice (but not Twizzlers). I believe that religion is very important to most Americans (though not to me). I believe in the Pittsburgh Steelers. I believe in Top Chef. I believe in Winter Silks. I believe in the optimism that led me to find my husband. I believe in public transportation.

  63. Pallas says:

    >We’re an agnostic household. Sometimes the kids believe in a god but not Santa, sometimes it’s reversed. We believe in the scientific method and that there are few, if any, absolutes.We are pretty sure that dragons are imaginary, but aren’t foolish enough to state it as fact. We have rules about respecting other people’s beliefs, we bow our heads when someone else is praying, when someone says “Bless you,” we say “Thanks!”I suspect that it’s not religion that turns non-religious people off, it’s fundamentalism. For example: I have many lovely, kind, thoughtful atheist friends — but I actually met a fundamentalist atheist (well, that’s how I labeled her in my mind) and never have you met such an intolerant, disrespectful hag. My parents are Episcopalian, and go to a church filled with giving, thinking, wonderful people. Then on the other end of the scale you have Fred Phelps.Whether you’re examining Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, pagans, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, or conservatives — I think you’ll find fundamentalism to be a common thread in episodes of assholery.Which is unfortunate, because it SEEMS that a back-to-basics philosophy would be a GOOD thing! Maybe it’s one of those cases when fringe elements have co-opted a perfectly good word? As to feeling marginalized for your religion? I hope no one is offended by that image, because I think of it often when any majority perceives itself as a minority. Also, it’s funny.

  64. michele says:

    >Hi Lindsay – I met you (very) briefly at BlogHer. You were gracious and kind – I appreciate that. I was scared out of my mind. As for your post – I had to comment, although I’m a bad commenter (baaaad blogger!)History: Bretheren dad, Lutheran mom, neither actually religious, who decided the best thing to do was to send me to church with grandma, a Baptist. I knew for certain down deep that there was “something” more out there – God. But the church didn’t help me find Him. If I asked questions in Sunday school (honest questions, not smart ass questions) I would get the brush off. I would have been happy with “I don’t know.” I tried to read the Bible, but just didn’t get it. I think perhaps I was too young to understand reading it on my own, and my parents were Biblically uneducated and couldn’t help me either. I fell out of going to church as I got older, but never lost my belief in something greater, which started my searching phase. I studied various Christian congregations, denominations, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Latter Day Saints, even Scientology. Eventually I became Wiccan. I think the nature/earth connections and rituals spoke to me. But it didn’t last long. It wasn’t the “click” I knew I would feel. After some things happened to me that I won’t go into here, I fell into drugs. My drug dealing boyfriend had a Bible. Yes, his father was a pastor in England, and he just never could give up his Bible. I picked it up one day, because I was always an avid reader, and it was the only thing to read in our roach infested studio apartment. And it spoke to me. Loudly. That’s the only way I can explain it. That started me on a new journey.Now – 11 years later: I’m a Bible believing, non-denominational, “saved,” “born again” Christian. We don’t have a home church at the moment. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that all my local churches can’t seem to bear mentioning the Bible or Jesus in their Statement of Faith. But I am a “religious right.” Which made the last 6 months – a year very interesting. I also have some beliefs about the role of Mary Magdalene in the life of Jesus that other Christians would probably take exception to. I absolutely raise my children as Christians, although neither have accepted Christ as of yet. I feel it’s my duty to do so – not to would be dishonest. But, as I haven’t felt comfortable in a home church for a long time, they don’t have much experience in a group congregational setting. Do I believe that my (meaning the Biblical) way is THE way to heaven – actually, yes I do. I also believe in free will, and free choice. Am I perfect? Absolutely NOT. Am I Christ-like? Sadly, nowhere close. Am I an evangelist? Gosh no. No. I take some flack from other Christians for that. I wasn’t evangelized to – it took a lot of searching and traveling. I do believe that God fashioned the path, and I never would have taken it if I had been evangelized to. If I’m asked, however, I always answer any and all questions – or find out the answer if I don’t know, and I welcome the discussion. Even if the person never converts – I believe the discussion process helps them (and me) figure out what it is they DO believe.In terms of General Life and Blogging: I definitely see the line of Christian vs. everything else bloggers. But I don’t see it as an adversarial thing – and I certainly read both. All. Everything under the sun. But I also have a problem with labeling bloggers unless it’s a true only one topic blog. I’m a mom, but I’ve been writing online since before my children existed. I write about everything under the sun. I’m a Christian and sometimes mention it. But am I mommyblogger? A Christian blogger? I don’t know. In my offline life, though, I struggle a LOT with my being a Christian. I live in southern California. I recently left work in the Entertainment industry (a large film studio you all know.) My children learn about all religions, except for theirs, in school. Theirs is not allowed to be mentioned at “holiday” time. My son actually whispered to his teacher, “You do know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, right?” She whispered back, “I know, honey.” He honestly thought no one else knew this. But he also knew enough, at only 8 years old, not to raise his hand and announce it to the class. His teacher talked to me about it in private. And this saddens me. And at my work place? I certainly didn’t hide in shame as a Christian – but MAN was it hard. Inevitably around the office conversations happen about current events. And they would go off on a charged diatribe about something they were obviously passionate about, during the multitude of topics this election season. Then they’d toss off a “Sorry, Michele.” I’m not a prude, and I’m not for stifling opinion, and I therefore never mentioned it. But working there long enough – I know without a shadow of a doubt that had I done the same – I would have been in the HR office. I had to fight with them to have a Bible in my personal belongings. While others played music with cursing, and demeaning lyrics, loudly, and constantly cursing themselves, etc (I was in a creative environment, not a corporate environment.) So – perhaps it’s my geographical location – reading the other comments makes me think so, but I certainly feel demeaned and me against everyone else.I am not the cookie cutter picture of a “religious right” mom and wife. I’m not. I’m also not the picture of what a Christian should be in terms of how I live my life. But my beliefs are deeply felt. And reactions against my beliefs are also deeply felt. I hate the word tolerance, as I believe it has been twisted to mean something entirely different. But I teach my kids to live in this world, and treating others the way they want to be treated, regardless of anything, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disabilities, etc. I strive to do the same.Apologies for the rant. You apparently struck a nerve in me.

  65. Frenk says:

    >Well I was raised Catholic, even attending catholic private school (elementary only). I moved out on my own at 16 & fell in love with a Jehovah Witness. My father (divorced & lived 18 hours away) also converted to JW around the same time. Now all I can say is that I don't trust any religion per say. I mean I very much believe in God and pray every night. But I subscribe to the notion that why should I let any "Man" interpret the bible/religion for me and make up rules to live by. Granted I am lazy & getting up for church is hard, I can't seem to agree with all of one religions beliefs.

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