Intern JK (boot-camp caliber Roman Catholic):
If nothing else, my Roman Catholic upbringing (we’re talking boot-camp caliber) certainly shaped my belief-set about love, tolerance, acceptance and equal rights for all. The definition of “Catholic” is “universal” — we’re all one people created in God’s image. Roman Catholics believe that God IS love, and we’re to strive every moment of every day to be a physical representation of God’s love on earth.
On one hand, we had Love, Equality, and Goodness, and on the other hand my community endorsed rampant racism, homophobia, and general intolerance.
I grew up in a very strict Roman Catholic household in the South (Kentucky, to be precise), surrounded by contrasting teachings of the Church. On one hand, we had Love, Equality and Goodness, and on the other hand my community endorsed rampant racism, homophobia, and general intolerance.
As a kid this was a constant, daily source of torture for me. I couldn’t understand the hatred I saw on a daily basis, especially the hatred from one Catholic towards another. I was torn between feeling my acceptance of people was defined as a sin although I felt it was natural and good. The stereotypical “Catholic guilt” wreaked havoc on my psyche.
As I grew older and strived to learn more, and as I was struggling with my own sexual identity, this inner conflict worsened. Although Catholicism taught me that love was the most beautiful and precious gift we could give to others, my mother had a very narrow view of Catholicism, and I was subjected to an atmosphere of racism and homophobia. What had happened to everything I learned? Everyone seemed so beautiful to me!
I could write a novel about the internal struggle caused by my religious background, but needless to say, just as I knew as a young child, we are all beautiful and deserving of love. There is nothing bad or ugly about love. How could there be?
Now agnostic, I still hold tight to what I was taught about love in Roman Catholicism: that we are all equal and deserving of love. I’ve found this belief to be a common-thread linking all religions. Where there is love, there is good.
Riese (Hippie Liberal Feminist Gender-Neutral Reform Judaism):
Jews and Gays go together like um … Jews and Gays? Growing up in a reform Jewish household (Mom was the Jew, Dad was a Quaker but he never practiced) in a liberal college town with young parents, I never heard, let alone internalized, any homophobic rhetoric or judgment of sexual behavior whatsoever.
Furthermore, my parents were hippies and my Mom was a feminist politically radical future-lesbian and therefore, because the Jews value education, I was very educated on the Plight of Other Children who were Cornered into Traditional Gender Roles and Stifled by Religious Conservatives. You know, the Popular Kids who Got 12 Days of Christmas. I wanted them to like me! I didn’t like Hebrew School ’cause the kids there teased me for going to Gifted School with the nerds, so my beliefs are shaped more on my literary understanding of the Torah and my family’s celebrations (and! I once spoke Hebrew fluently) than of an attachment to the community itself. I actually dig Judaism — what it teaches. It makes sense to me.
I guess that’s part of why I want to do Autostraddle; ‘cause lessening that social pressure just a little bit might make the other stuff easier to handle.
Sometimes I thought that it actually would’ve been easier to reject the blatant dogma of the church than it was for me to reject the complicated abstract social pressure or the crippling sense of outsiderdom and lonerhood that made me feel like I needed a boyfriend for so long. WTF? In my high school no-one said lesbians went to hell, but they did say lesbians were ugly pathetic weirdos who went muff-diving ‘cause they couldn’t get a boyfriend. EeK! My tenuous rep could not withstand such judgment.
I realize now how lucky I was to be raised without this judgment but incredibly aware of its existance. So. So. lucky. Was, and am!
I can’t imagine how anyone can handle religious/cultural/familial pressure on top of the social pressure, that blows my mind. I admire those who do, they’ve been my friends and I’ve seen the self-hatred eat them up inside. I guess that’s part of why I want to do Autostraddle; ‘cause lessening that social pressure just a little bit might make the other stuff easier to handle.
Ultimately: Jews don’t have heaven and hell. We live for life, not for the afterlife. The G-d I believe in (and yeah, I am one of those weirdos who totally believes in G-d) values love above all else and just wants people to be nice to each other and happy. It made me sad on Sunday to see so many people who’d been tricked into thinking otherwise.
Alex (Learned her Morals):
My brother and I went to ‘religion school’ once a week to learn our morals, and then I’d come home and ask why we never went to church like everyone else to which Mama Vega replied “We don’t need to go to church just to be close to God. We do that by being good people.” And that’s when I started questioning everything.
I’ve had a lot of feelings about religion (and the existence of God) all my life. None of this relates to sexuality, though. No one in my life ever told me I was going to hell for my homosexuality. My dad doesn’t believe in God but he’s a weirdo with more than a touch of homophobia.