My neighbor’s religion

Angela - Weeping Water, Nebraska
Entered on December 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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May I come in? I would like to warm up to your ideas. I’m fascinated by other people’s faith. I have come to believe it is possible for people of different religions to live together in peace. It may not be my own or even what I think of as a religion, but it is theirs. I want to find out more about them. My quest showed me that people don’t fit into religious categories; each person has a unique faith.

With talk of spiritual belief comes inevitable tension. It’s as if a confused person has just walked into the room. No one asks questions. They wait for the stranger to realize he or she is in the wrong place. There’s a threshold that never gets crossed. If you do, you have invaded a personal space bubble and therefore, made your neighbor uncomfortable.

I got the rare opportunity to discuss religion last year. Our class was learning about the government and how decisions are made. I was in a group with many students whom I didn’t know very well. Our question opened up a door to answers within people: “Should the Pledge of Allegiance be amended to exclude the phrase ‘Under God’?”

I immediately knew my answer and knew it would be easy to explain to others. Our country was founded by people influenced by God. Religion depicts much of what America stands for. I had the many excuses lined up until…

“Some people believe there is no god. I think it should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and from other places, such as the Constitution,” one of my friends calmly said. I was shocked. He was not rebellious, with values different than mine. He was merely a fellow student with this minor difference. Our group kept talking and never really came to an agreement. We ended up deciding as a democracy. The Pledge of Allegiance was left as is.

I had never put much thought into anyone else’s spiritual beliefs until this discussion. Having no god was something so extremely foreign to me. I had to find out more as to why someone would believe this. Attraction to the lack of religion, along with outspoken opinions repelled my friend. I learned that everyone has a set something they already believe, whether it is the belief in God or otherwise. When religion gets mentioned, it turns into an automatic debate, where one is right and the other wrong. Because of this, I believe it should be possible to talk about our faiths without one pushing a belief on another.

I have gone to school with and even lived with people of different religions. It is not something to divide people. Rather, we can learn from our neighbors, inviting ourselves in without feeling out of place. We are allowed differences in our country. We can still stand together, telling of our one nation under God, and live in a house next to someone who goes somewhere else to worship.