Does my faith really separate me?

Katherine - Los Angeles, California
Entered on April 26, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50

As a practicing Christian on a university campus, I often feel like a member of a minority group. A strange statement you might think? Especially since it seems that census polls report the majority of Americans still checking the “Christian” box. But to be a practicing Christian (church going, prayerful) is not cool, trust me…and is often misunderstood. Due to many egregious actions by the church (the Crusades, contemporary evangelical attempts to convert others), when I mention being involved with a Christian organization, I am automatically placed in the “conservative” box as someone “with an agenda.”

It is unfortunate that the much louder voices of what I will call fundamentalist Christians have built a brand of exclusivity and self righteousness. But I believe in what I like to call “liberal Christianity.” In my faith, the Bible is not infallible. God speaks to people in different ways, through not only holy texts but through experiences and life’s lessons. It is not for me to say that Christianity is the only way. There are many paths, and different people are called in different ways spiritually. I am called to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, to realize God’s love, and to demonstrate that love to others. Love in all its forms (generosity, charity, forgiveness) is arguably the most powerful force in this world.

This message was most effectively conveyed through a documentary entitled “Lord, Save us from your Followers.” It centers on the Christian faith- why it is misunderstood, why it is hated, and why at the end of the day, if our belief really is about the love of Christ and sharing that love with others, that we are not that different from anyone else (religious, spiritual, or not).

It is easy for me to feel like a minority when I realize that I am part of the 1.3% of my MBA program that attends church, weekly prayer group, and Graduate Christian Fellowship meetings. I feel a bit “different” when I want to mention the Lord in conversation but I know my classmates might look at me a bit funny if I do. What is harder to do, but all the more important, is to realize that we as classmates (and as people) are not all that different- to find the similarities between us when it comes to our values, our beliefs about human character and human rights, and what constitutes an “ethical business decision.” I have realized this through my “Ethical and Social Issues in Business” class. Although I may be the only practicing Christian in the room, my viewpoints and contributions are certainly not any more generous or “Christian” than my peers. Does this mean I could do a better job demonstrating love? Absolutely. But what it also means is that my faith does not necessarily separate me from others.

Conversations that bridge us rather than divide us will surely be our only path toward, dare I say it?….world peace. This, I believe.