In an increasingly divisive world where militant secularism is pitted against the strident Christian Right, and each side is equally self-righteous, I reserve the right to fall into my own category. I believe simply that I am entitled to believe, in my own way and on my own terms.
Raised Mennonite in the close-knit Anabaptist community of Lancaster, PA, my religion has always provided me with a strong sense of identity. The Anabaptist tradition emphasizes pacifism, social justice, and quiet coexistence among people of different backgrounds. I was raised to appreciate my connectedness to the Mennonite Church as well as encouraged to explore my personal faith. Now that I have formed my own set of individual beliefs, I expect them to be respected.
I often feel uncomfortable referencing my Christianity because both liberals and conservatives have preconceived notions about what that entails. I am certainly no narrow-minded Bible-thumper, nor does my faith rest on hot-button issues like gay marriage or abortion. On the other hand, though, I reject the idea that there is only one path to God, and it is offensive when my fellow Christians insist their dogma is the only valid expression of our faith. Too often, I have to defend myself as either intelligent—“I don’t reject evolution!”—or devout—“I do follow Jesus!”.
I believe that what I believe is my own. What is of the utmost importance to me should not be subject to the judgments of others.
Ultimately, there are fewer wars that way.