For the record…..I was raised Catholic. I was sent to a Catholic school for 8 years. Not so much for religious reasons, but because my parents felt they offered a more advanced education. And once I became an adult, I understood that it was to also build on the moral compass that I received at home. And it did. The nuns made sure of this! Yes, they were strict. Bad behavior was not tolerated. We attended mass five days a week before school started. We studied Catechism and it was a major subject that we got graded in. We collected pennies at home and had a little box the school provided. This was for the Missions. So we learned to give back and help those who had less. Overall, I’m glad I had those formative years. I think they served me well in many ways. However, my parents were not overly religious. So at home, I always felt comfortable questioning a lot of the religion I was studying. Like the immaculate conception. Turning water into wine. Walking on water. In all honesty, even as a child, much of seemed more like a fairy tale to me.
When it came time for high school, I begged to attend the public one. And after much thought, my parents did allow me to attend Salem High. However, when I married and had children, I chose to also send them to the local Catholic school for 8 years. For the reasons above. But once my kids graduated, organized religion became a matter of choice for them. I felt I had given all three a good education and good guidelines, which hopefully, would serve them well. And it did.
And by the time I reached age 30, I had completely drifted away from organized religion. Again, for many reasons. But the groundwork had already been formed and I found myself questioning religion even more as the years went by. And by the time I reached age 40, I had swapped organized religion for spirituality. But in the early 80’s, during the Reagan years, something happened politically that had me thinking back to grade school. To a time when we studied separation of church and state. I still recall how emphatic the nuns were to make sure that we understood this! That this separation was in our Constitution and it was vitally important. As an adult, I marveled that at a Catholic school our teachers were adamant about this subject. I had grown up with neighborhood kids who were Protestant or Jewish……they might designate they were Lutheran, or Episcopalian or Baptist, but most of the time they just said they were Protestant. But in the early 80’s, all of a sudden I was hearing the term “born again Christian.” I’ll never forget my mother calling me to ask what this was. I had no idea. The term Christian had never really been used in regard to religion. But as the 80’s went along, more and more this term was being used. And within 10 or 15 years, strangers were telling me to “Have a blessed day” and many small businesses made sure the public knew they were “Christian.” All of a sudden, everywhere I turned I was being bombarded with Christian radio stations with Christian music, Christian book stores, hair salons, even restaurants.
I’ll never forget when I first began to see people in restaurants join hands, and pray out loud before they began eating their food. I did not see this in a religious way at all. I was taught you pray at home, you pray in church and if you prayed in public, you did so silently, to yourself. So I have always felt that these people, praying out loud in a restaurant were really saying, “Look at me. I’m a Christian. And I’m really a much better person than you are.” I will never understand why they must publicly make sure the rest of us understand this.
And with all of this said…….religion is a free choice, or at least it should BE. So my irritation is when these Christians go out of their way to force their beliefs on ME. Their beliefs on birth control, abortion, gays, women’s rights, etc. The rest of us are not telling them to feel the same way about these issues as we do. Not at all. Nobody is forcing them to accept birth control, gays, etc. They have a choice to accept it or not, but they do NOT have the right to tell the rest of us we cannot have this choice. And when it involves the law? THIS is precisely what separation of church and state is. It’s in the Constitution.
But unfortunately, slowly, over the past almost 40 years, that part of the Constitution is being slowly eroded. Separation of church and state has lost the true definition. And with the current Administration, this part of the Constitution becomes more and more concerning to me every single day.
See you here next time……………….