I decided to make this page to put my views down somewhere. I think about things way too much for my own good, with no place to let them out. One of the things that frequents my thinking is the topic of religion.

Religion is not an easy topic to discuss, especially since so many consider it entertwined deeply with politics. Similarly, people have a range of opinions and beliefs, from being totally by-the-book to complete disbelievers. I think that's fair- it can never be possible to make everyone believe in or feel the same way about religion.

What I believe in is a very "individually-driven" idea of how religion should be treated. I never frequented the church. I never did my first communion. Yet still, I believe in God.

My Views on Religion

From what I have observed and understood in passing, people will treat religion, theirs or otherwise, quite differently. As mentioned prior, people will follow their chosen religion incredibly strictly, or not at all. I am of the more relaxed variety, of course. Catholicism, my home religion, has been described as quite relaxed, at least!

In my opinion, I think people should practice their religion within their means, and with purpose. I express my religion through my art, discussion, prayer, and through respect of holy imagery, such as that of Christ and the Virgin Guadalupe. I think doing things like this not only helps me feel more connected to my beliefs, but also makes me feel pretty good about it! All of these are very much positive. There is no point if all it did was make me a worse person, or made me feel bad about myself.

I think it's unfortunate so many people have a negative connotation with religion. Christianity, of which Catholicism is a branch of, bears a heavy stigma of being oppressive and "white". Lots of people I see who indulge in counter-religions, niche religions, or none at all tend to have had difficult encounters with Christianity, often made worse by the usual suspect of an overbearing family or uninviting church sessions. I think it's incredibly important for people to understand that God isn't a cudgel to be beaten with- he is what you make of him! Religion should always, in some way, help you better yourself.

Following on that... my idea of God is not someone who I should be afraid of, nor do I think anybody should be afraid of. The phrase "God-fearing woman" is a negative one, and I don't think any religious woman should call herself that. It makes it seem like believing in God is something done out of worry or fear rather than comfort or joy. I don't think God would want that. That's silly.

My Personal History

Practically from birth, I was raised by my grandmother, who happened to be very religious. She was a Catholic who retained the beliefs she was raised with when she was growing up in the countryside of El Salvador, which were primarily taught to her by her mother. What she has taught me has nearly entirely molded what I believe in. And for that, I am thankful.

As a child, my grandmother always brought up little things related to the religion. I was a lover of stories and had a tendency to believe whatever my imagination conjured, so the idea that there was a big man in the sky looking down to protect me was not out of my realm of belief. "Jesus cries for you when you are hurt", "Mary will listen if you need something". The kindness of these entities I could not see made me feel happy.

However, things took for the worst in my later childhood that would grow the resentment I felt in my preteen years. I became the most atheist atheist to ever atheist. I denied God, finding the religious stupid for believing in creation when science said otherwise. I lashed out at family who attempted to turn me to religion, and refused when offered bibles. In retrospect, it was an understandable reaction- I had gone through a very traumatic experience, and was very mentally unstable. However, I couldn't understand their approach. I was incredibly rebellious and hated when people tried to make me do things I didn't want to do.

Funnily enough, despite the scrawled hateful messages, despite the glares, despite the verbal lashings I gave, when it truly came down to it, I would curl up in bed, tears in my eyes, asking God for help, for mercy, for the hope of a better life. I think even then, I recognized that God was very personal to me, and didn't like other people trying to get involved with it. Today, I avoid talking about religion with my family, and react passively when prompted. That isn't to say I'm not ecstatic when I get the chance to talk about it, though it still is a very personal topic.

I now identify as a non-practicing Catholic. I view the Virgin Guadalupe as my protector. I do not believe in fearing God and I do not believe in a God that is meant to be feared. Yes, I understand that science exists. Dinosaurs were real and we evolved from monkeys. Sure, it may contradict religion, but so what? My religion does not dictate my views on things like that.