Freedom from What?
Who Art Thou?
Don’t judge me. Recently, upon checking in for my I-hate-this-with-a-vengeance annual OB/GYN visit, the receptionist asked me what my religious preference is. I found this puzzling. Why does it matter? Does this have to do with the Affordable Care Act? After a brief pause, I answered, “Agnostic.” Plain and simple.
In his August 30, 2014, column, Frank Bruni expressed my sentiments exactly. In it, he discusses Sam Harris’s new book, “Waking Up.” Harris is a well-known atheist. What caught my eye and nailed it for me was what Bruni said about religion in America today:
I’m not casting a vote for godlessness at large or in my own spiritual life, which is muddled with unanswered and unanswerable questions. I’m advocating unfettered discussion, ample room for doubt and a respect for science commensurate with the fealty to any supposedly divine word. We hear the highest-ranking politicians mention God at every turn and with little or no fear of negative repercussion. When’s the last time you heard one of them wrestle publicly with agnosticism?
I come from a religious mixed bag. In my family history, there are hell fire-and-brimstone Southern Baptist traditions. I was baptized a Presbyterian, attended several different Protestant churches in Pinjarra, Western Australia, and received my first Communion in an Anglican church in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As empty-nesters, seeking fulfillment elsewhere, my parents converted to Catholicism.
In 2012, the Pew Research Center released a study, ‘Nones’ on the Rise. According to Pew, one-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation, a trend that has for years been on the rise. Whether this is a positive trend or not is up for debate. But, to avoid assumptions and allow for openminded and unprejudiced (dare I say fair and balanced?) discussion is unequivocally important.
I respect one’s freedom to worship and think one religion is no better, no more righteous than the other. God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Ganesh…they’re all the same in my eyes. Selecting who or what to worship is a very personal decision.