I am a post-religious person. I have moved through many labels to arrive at this self-expression: member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Atheist, Buddhist, Christian, and finally Spiritual yet Secular-Minded Agnostic, pretty much exactly in that order and with a whirlwind of emotions. It was a messy, brutal experience deciding to leave participation in organized religion behind and one I’d love to write about someday. Ultimately, it was one that has best served my own growth and health. Although I myself have stepped away from organized religion, I now dedicate much of my time to fighting for Freedom of Religion or Belief and bringing awareness to its importance in our world. I realize a post-religious person fighting for religious freedom may seem like an oxymoron on its surface. Yet, it’s this very freedom that allowed me to step away from the ideology I was born into and choose one I liked better. All over the world people don’t have the beautiful opportunity that I did to examine their lifestyle and decide for themselves if they’d like to continue living it. In countries like Syria, China, Korea, Iran, and so many others, people are being imprisoned and murdered because of either their practice, or non-practice. This is a devastating reality.
Throughout my entire faith journey, one moral constant has been a desire to help my fellow humans in some way. When I was just a little girl, I learned songs on Sunday telling me that “Jesus said, ‘love everyone, treat them kindly, too’” and I felt that in my tiny soul. The desire to love and help and serve and make the world better has always been in me; just as I think it exists to some degree in everyone. At this point in my life, I feel a call to fight for everyone on this planet to be able to decide for themselves what they believe in, and what they want to do about that belief. Freedom of thought and conscience are pillars of personal autonomy, and their protection is an unequivocal human right. Deciding to fight for freedom of religion was not a path I anticipated or sought out, but rather one I stumbled upon and fell deeply in love with (something that also happened when I met both my husband and our rescue dog). It has ignited a newfound passion to learn about the beliefs and perspectives of others, now that I myself have some new beliefs and perspectives.
For a long time, I believed it was dangerous for others to think differently than I did. When I was a Latter-Day Saint, I wanted everyone to join my church for their own salvation. When I was an atheist, I thought I had figured out the big secret, and figured everyone else should face reality. Along with some therapy and emotional maturity, now I realize that it can be incredibly dangerous for everyone to think the very same way. More specifically, danger can reside when some attempt to control the hearts and minds of others around them. Diversity strengthens nations.
I’m trying to deliberately write things in the sands of my life and invite them to stay only as long as they serve and inspire me. Everyone on this planet deserves the opportunity to write whatever they wish in their own sands of life. Learning, loving, and spirituality cannot be forcibly monopolized by any one religion, deity, or ideology. It is in our very nature as humans to gravitate toward narratives such as Jesus or Muhammad, just as it is in our nature to help and care and serve. We long for community and inclusion and deserve both. We also deserve safety and freedom to worship the way we want to, or not at all. I passionately invite you to join us in the fight for Freedom of Religion or Belief here at Bellwether International, so that everyone on earth will feel safe being true to their own conscience.