People of Faith/Spirituality (Non-Judgmental)

I’ve noticed that there are a few other people on NB who are religious and/or spiritual, and so I thought I’d start a thread where we can share a little about our experiences/backgrounds. I wanted to lay a few ground rules for this thread, however:

  1. No proselytizing, you can feel free to share your beliefs but this isn’t really the place to try to convert others.
  2. No arguing or putting down anyone else’s thoughts or experiences, we are in the territory of personal beliefs here and everyone will likely be different. That’s fine! It’s half the point of this thread.
  3. [name_m]Just[/name_m] be kind. :slight_smile:

As for myself, I was raised in another faith but currently consider myself a Quaker (more accurately known as Friends). Not all Quakers are [name_m]Christian[/name_m], but I do call myself [name_m]Christian[/name_m], though there are always debates on what “qualifies” as such.

I’m gay and trans, so people are often shocked to learn that I am actually quite religious – I read the Bible daily, pray often, and practice some level of simplicity (I don’t have tattoos or piercings, don’t own a car, don’t use any titles, etc.), for example. I actually feel extremely blessed to be in this position as I think being part of the LGBT community gives me a unique perspective on spirituality that I wouldn’t otherwise have. A lot of LGBT people have trauma associated with religion, and so do I, but I have managed to move past what I believe was damage done by other people and not by religion or by God/[name_f]Spirit[/name_f]. My current faith community, though tiny, is extremely accepting and affirming.

For the record, Quakers have nothing to do with the oats, nothing to do with Shakers, and very little to do with the Amish (though both are peace churches). Yes, I use modern technology; yes, I am a pacifist; yes, we have silent worship; and yes, [name_m]Nixon[/name_m] was a (non-practicing) Quaker – but [name_u]James[/name_u] [name_u]Dean[/name_u] was a Quaker, too! (These are all questions I get a lot… trust me.)

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I think this could be a very interesting thread, if everyone respects other people’s opinion.

I’m a practicing Catholic. I was raised Catholic by my parents. My dad was raised Catholic himself, my mother was raised protestant but became agnostic later in life, it was my dad who took me and my siblings to church. When I was a child we lived in Iceland, where Catholics are a minority.
My SO was raised by a Catholic father (with Assyrian heritage) and a Jewish mother. He wasn’t baptized as a child but chose to be part of the Catholic Church as an adult.
Religion is a very important part of our lives. I teach [name_f]Sunday[/name_f] school in our church (it’s not exactly the same as [name_f]Sunday[/name_f] school, but I don’t know the correct English term). We go to mass every week, and I need that to get through the week, it gives me strength and peace of mind. I pray every morning and evening, and read in my Bible every night before I go to bed. My faith is the thing that keeps me going when I’m going through difficult times.

I try to be open and compassionate to everyone. The fact that I’m a Catholic doesn’t mean I agree with everything the pope or the Vatican states. Our community is also very open, we welcome people with all different backgrounds. I couldn’t be part of a community that excluded people.
I’m a psychologist (and work with trans people by the way), and in my job I feel strengthened by my faith and my world view.

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Thank you for sharing this. It’s always really nice to talk to other people in a relaxed setting about religion and spirituality, since it’s often considered kind of an awkward or polarizing topic. I’ve been trying to reach out and learn from people around me on this lately, and in doing so I have met a lot of Catholics and have gained a little better understanding of Catholicism as well as the variety of people and views within it.

Also very cool that you’re a psychologist! I’m an educator and hope to go more into education research, so I’m very interested in educational psychology. I also feel that my faith has been a great help to me in my career path!

I’m an Anglican but I feel more in touch with the spiritual side of the religion rather than the physical, organised side of it. I was christened and then confirmed into the Church of [name_f]England[/name_f], but I don’t go to church regularly because I personally believe that it isn’t an “official” mark of how religious you are - because there is no official mark, as religion is a learning journey and sometimes I feel like attending church regularly can actually hinder your beliefs and closeness to your religion. (No disrespect to anyone who is a regular church goer, I’m just not a fan of the organised and forceful feel church attendance can have sometimes). I prefer to pray at home when I feel like it, but I did go to a Bible study group for a few years and did find it interesting and helpful into helping me figure out where I stand with my religion.

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I am a fierce ally for the LGBTQ+ community, a feminist, and I am passionate about giving a voice to those who have been systematically oppressed by society as a whole. I am also a Baptist. For me, these things are not exclusive of each other. I believe that God loves all of us and has a plan for every person. My faith only strengthens my belief in equality, and allows me to find peace and strength of will to carry forward.

Although I am a [name_m]Christian[/name_m], I don’t think that there is any one singular way to believe, nor do I think that Christianity is the only right religion. Any religion that brings someone joy is the right religion for them, as is the lack of a faith, if that is what brings someone peace of heart and mind.

My experience with my faith is rather unique. Though I feel a very strong connection to God and how I perceive Christianity, I have never read the Bible in full, and rarely attend church. I live out my faith every day through prayer, love, redemption, and knowledge. I feel as close to God in my home as I do in a pew or among nature.

It’s ironic that the first two posters in this thread are Catholic and a [name_m]Friend[/name_m], as I have previously in my life considered becoming both a nun and a Quaker!

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@adelina_sophia I get what you mean about not making church attendance a priority. I actually wish I was able to attend meeting more often than I do, because the communal aspect is important to me, but at the same time my relationship with God/Spirit is very personal and I don’t feel like I need anyone else necessarily to facilitate that. Quakers are super relaxed about the organised side of things, though – we don’t have a hierarchy of any kind or specific people who give prepared sermons or anything like that, which for me is nice, but for some people I know it drives them nuts :stuck_out_tongue:

I think it’s awesome that you have learned so much about your beliefs for yourself early in life… some people really struggle with even taking the initiative to “figure things out”!

@jonquils I love everything you said here! I also believe that my faith makes me all the more concerned about social justice, and that everyone’s spiritual path should be whatever uniquely works best for them. We all have our own relationship with the spiritual side of things, and I honestly think that’s not an accident, either.

And how funny that you previously considered being a nun or a Quaker! Small world?

Oooh! This is fun! I was raised (and still identify) as Jewish, specifically Reform - although apparently UK Reform is closer to US ‘Conservative’. The community I was raised in and am still a part of is LGBTQ+ affirming, which is great and, in my opinion, as it should be. Our current [name_m]Rabbi[/name_m] is a gay man, there was a lot of controversy when he was chosen, not because he’s gay but because the more traditional in the community would have liked him to be married to his partner rather than them just living together.

I practice the festivals, go to synagogue when I’m home with my dad, and I (mostly) keep kosher: I very very rarely eat pork and don’t eat shellfish, but I’m not too fussed about the other rules. I also did Jewish summer and winter camps every year from age 11-17 and still go to a big conference thing that runs every year (when it doesn’t clash too much with [name_u]Christmas[/name_u]).

When I was growing up my mum was Jewish but my dad wasn’t (he was technically Methodist, but really he was non-practising/fairly secular). I was also raised in a small village in the [name_u]North[/name_u] of [name_f]England[/name_f], where most social activities happened around the Church of [name_f]England[/name_f] church, and I went to a Church of [name_f]England[/name_f] primary school. So growing up I was raised Jewish at home, and I always knew I was Jewish, but also outside of the home was quite [name_m]Christian[/name_m], and we did most of the major [name_m]Christian[/name_m] festivals in a secular way. I went to church youth group, sang in the church choir, and was (and still am) very good friends with the vicar’s eldest daughter/very close to that family. I also went on Jewish summer camps, was [name_m]Bat[/name_m] Mitzvah, and would say that I am Jewish, I’m just fluent in Church of [name_f]England[/name_f] Christianity too :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m generally agnostic, I’d like there to be a God but I don’t know if I rationally think there is. I definitely don’t believe in hell, the afterlife isn’t really as much of a thing/talking point in Judaism anyway. I’ve read probably about 60% of the Bible (Hebrew Bible and [name_m]New[/name_m] Testament) over my life, but I’ve never sat and read it in full. I know there’s plenty I disagree with and some things I love!

I really like being Jewish and I love the community. Although if I were ever going to stop being Jewish, I’d pretty definitely be a Quaker!

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Hello! :slight_smile: It’s lovely to read everyone else’s faith journeys.

I have a deep belief in God and the transcendant power of goodness, and I consider myself [name_m]Christian[/name_m] because the [name_m]Christian[/name_m] model of love and redemption resonates with me. I believe these truths occur in all religions however, and I don’t see religious identities as being exclusive. I believe in religious pluralism and feel in a way I feel that I belong to many religions.

As for what species of [name_m]Christian[/name_m] I am, I would call myself “catholic” with a small c, because I see myself as belonging to a universal community of Christians worldwide that goes beyond denomination. I feel most at home in Anglican, Catholic and Quaker worship (in spite of them being on opposite ends of the hierarchy spectrum), all of which have an emphasis on contemplation and spiritual discipline. At this point I wouldn’t seek confirmation in a particular Church because they tend to consider themselves to be exclusive, something I can’t buy into.

I go to church when I can and read the Bible and other works on spiritual practice. I love expressions of faith, both [name_m]Christian[/name_m] and non-[name_m]Christian[/name_m], in music, religious art, and observing religious festivals. I try to live my life in communion with God’s wishes, an intention I regret I often err from.

What a coincidence, so have I! :o

@adelina_sophia: for me going to church is important because of the people I meet there, my community, but also because the Holy Communion is an essential part of my faith. It’s at the very core of my religious beliefs and practice. I’d never judge anyone who doesn’t attend church very often as “less Catholic” though.

@rosebeth: Yeah, I get that and I like how the church can be a close unit for a lot of people, though all the time, it’s just not for me personally :slight_smile: Sadly that’s the rhetoric of some of the elderly people at my church; since they attend every [name_f]Sunday[/name_f] as it was a part of their childhood routine and culture, they expect everyone else to follow, too. Not everyone of the older generation is of that school of thought, but a lot of the elderly people at my church are. I generally tend to attend once or twice every month. Of course not all people who regularly go to church think the same of people who don’t (I actually studied this topic as part of my philosophy course), I apologise if I made you feel as such.

Funny; I think Judaism would probably be the religion I’d convert to if I had to change from Anglicanism! :slight_smile:

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What a lovely thread - perhaps we can revive it a little. It’s wonderful to see people sharing with kindness and respect. :heart::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::blush:

[name_f]My[/name_f] hubby and I are Evangelical Christians, and we currently attend a Presbyterian church (although we both identify as nondenominational). We believe the Bible is God’s Word to us and that [name_m]Jesus[/name_m] came to save the world by dying on the cross. We both grew up in [name_u]Christian[/name_u] families - his Pentecostal, mine Reformed Presbyterian / Calvinist - and have been believers for most of our lives, although we both claimed our faith truly as teens / young adults.

[name_f]My[/name_f] faith and journey to grow in [name_m]Christ[/name_m]-likeness is important to me because I see so much hurt in the world and wish never to add to it. I try to handle everything with grace as best I can (totally not perfect though!) and show love to those around me. I come from a family in which members can be quite negative, arrogant, and difficult to deal with and I don’t want to continue that on in the slightest. In my hubby, I’m thankful for a likeminded and hearted human that just wants to share the love and grace of [name_m]Jesus[/name_m] with others.

:heart::heart::heart:

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Yes, let’s revive this.

I usually identify as agnostic as I feel that it’s kind of a catch all term. I was christened as a baby and went to [name_f]Sunday[/name_f] school (and when I was a bit older the main service), but I don’t identify as [name_u]Christian[/name_u] because it wasn’t a decision I made for myself. I stopped going to church at 14 because that’s when my parents let me stop. I do believe that there’s some sort of higher power and I like the idea of heaven & hell, but I also believe in reincarnation. I don’t believe in the majority of Bible stories (including the whole [name_u]New[/name_u] Testament), I believe in the theory of evolution, but I will always respect others’ beliefs. The only thing I won’t accept is overly religious people who don’t agree with human rights such as equal rights for the LGBT community.

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Yay, a fellow Catholic!

I am Catholic and always have been. [name_f]My[/name_f] mother’s family are converts and she was baptized at about age 8, my father’s family was Catholic in their beliefs and his mother was, but his father wasn’t really. [name_f]My[/name_f] mom works at church as the Sacred [name_f]Music[/name_f] Coordinator and the Rector’s Administrative Assistant. Our church is very traditional (now at least) and we have a Latin Mass every [name_f]Sunday[/name_f] and sing Gregorian Chant. Most of the people at our church take Communion on the tongue now. Most of the women and even little 4 year old girls wear veils. We observe the penance every [name_m]Friday[/name_m] and [name_u]Ember[/name_u] days and all our friends and us love our youth group!

[name_f]Faith[/name_f] is very important to me. I won’t go into detail about it, but it’s been very hard for me to have faith and I have panic attacks sometimes. Without my faith I don’t know where I’d be now. We pray at meals and bedtime, and rosaries sometimes and novenas as a family or just a few of us. We go to CCD every [name_f]Sunday[/name_f] (just [name_f]Sunday[/name_f] School basically I don’t know why we call it that.)

I accept all people for who they are, even if I don’t agree with their beliefs. Everyone is equal and God loves them all!! I try to be a good Catholic, not only in prayer and churchgoing, but in my actions. Many people have a bad idea of Catholics as people who judge you and people who try to change you…and I’m sorry. I try to be a good [name_u]Christian[/name_u] in my actions because just praying and believing in the doctrines isn’t all that being a Catholic means.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!! :wink:

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[name_f]My[/name_f] father was raised Baptist then became atheist at some point during my childhood though I didn’t know about his conversion til my teens. He was very religious and conservative when he was growing up and read the bible a lot. His family is very politically involved and not very LGBT friendly (nor human rights in general) though they claim they don’t “hate” gays

[name_f]My[/name_f] mom and her family are Buddhist. [name_f]My[/name_f] mom was also very religious in her teens and read the Buddhist texts that’s basically the equivalent of the bible. She is still Buddhist and while not as religious anymore, she and her siblings still do various things out of superstition and fear. Her family is not politically involved at all since the 80s so not sure where exactly they all stand on human rights but since they were fine with my uncle after he came out as gay, they seem to be at least somewhat accepting of LGBT.

Growing up, my family celebrated both [name_u]Christian[/name_u] and Buddhist holidays but we had only gone to churches and temples a handful of times. [name_f]My[/name_f] siblings and I also learned about Greek mythology in elementary school, and Hinduism in middle school. [name_f]My[/name_f] siblings had also gone to a Catholic high school and had Mass and bible classes but we’ve all pretty much have always been atheist though I would waiver from being Buddhist, Deist, Agnostic, Atheist, and Pantheist in grade school. I currently identify as Atheist, Humanist, Pastafarian, and Unitarian Universalist (UU) and have been involved in various atheist communities. If I stopped being atheist, I would still be UU and Humanist but also either Deist, Pantheist, Buddhist, or one of the more liberal sects of Quakers, Methodists and Judaism

Our church isn’t very traditional, and I miss that sometimes, although our church has its merits too. I especially love Gregorian chant, I listen to it sometimes when I feel stressed because it calms me down.
I struggle with panic attacks too and my mental health isn’t always great. [name_f]My[/name_f] faith has helped me a lot, but when I feel very anxious I find it hard to pray anything other than a rosary.

I find the not judging part very hard sometimes. I feel like a lot of Catholics are judgmental, I have no doubt most of them mean well, but it bothers me. I notice this especially now that I’m divorced and have a new SO. We have a son together and I’m expecting our second child, but we can’t get married in a church and I definitely understand why, but it’s rather painful. And people judge, I know they do.
Sometimes I feel I’m too liberal concerning some topics to call myself a Catholic. I know it’s not up to anyone else to decide this, but when I join FB discussions with other Catholics I feel like an alien sometimes.

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@EJpuddlejumper and @Rosebeth
I feel you both on struggling with panic attacks. I’ve had a few nasty ones. I’ve struggled with severe anxiety and mild depression since about 2016. It got really bad in 2018, and I ended up quitting my job because I so desperately had to “get away” from everything. I was unemployed for 8 months, and it was the best thing for my mental and physical health. It’s so good to be open about these things, and to remind others that they’re not alone - so thank you for sharing your struggles. :blush: [name_f]Faith[/name_f] and prayer, and our wonderful church community, definitely has been a big part in helping me move forward. :blush:

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I am so sorry you feel that way! Well just know you are not an alien here!

I am an atheist and I don’t agree with religion but I fully respect anyone, regardless of their beliefs. Have a wonderful day everyone :slight_smile:.

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[name_m]Just[/name_m] dropping by to say that while I have since come to slightly regret creating this thread (I missed the memo about Nameberry not really being keen on discussions of religion), I’m very glad it has become a safe place for some people to talk about these things and that everyone has been so respectful here.

As a personal update, I’m now running a group for LGBT people of faith (currently online only) which has been taking up more and more of my time. It’s been very rewarding so far! There’s a wide diversity of beliefs and identities and I am learning a lot. :slight_smile:

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This sounds like an amazing and worthwhile project, @handlion.

As far as I’m concerned, a non-judgemental topic for people to share, listen and learn about different faiths and practices is all good for as long as it continues in that spirit :slight_smile:

This topic so far has been a perfect example of that. It’s always good to be exposed to a variety of different perspectives, religious and otherwise, as long as it’s in the spirit of discussion and not confrontation.

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