"Extreme" \ik-ˈstrēm\ adjective: exceeding the ordinary, usual, or expected "Christian" \ˈkris-chən adjective: of or relating to Christianity

Thursday, March 26, 2015

“God Loves, Even When You Don’t”

There has been a lot of hate as of late concerning the LGTB community (I know what’s new), from a California lawyer (Matt McLaughlin) who wants to make it legal to kill them "SodomiteSuppression Act" for no reason other than the fact that they are gay, to a bill in Michigan “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (Jase Bolger/Mike Shirkey) that would make it legal for people to openly discriminate against them claiming religious beliefs, and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

I know it’s hard to believe being the year 2015 and being America and all, but unfortunately it’s true, this is our reality and not some over the top made-up Hollywood script.

With all this negativity and hate making the headlines in regards to a group of people who want nothing more than to have the same rights and freedoms as the rest of us, I figured it would be a good time to pick their minds to see exactly how they felt about things.

Below are some questions I asked three very open and awesome people, who just happen to be gay, so sit back and hear what they have to say.

Please welcome to Extreme Christian…

Cary Vaughn
Cary Vaughn is a writer and actor in Memphis, TN. If you enjoy acerbic wit and crass humor, you can read him at his website, The Reluctant Cat Owner's Journal (www.reluctantcatowner.com). Since starting his website in 2012, his articles have been featured on HumorOutcasts, LeftyPop, and Scary Mommy. He has been translated into Finnish for Vau.fi (leading parenting website in Finland) and has accidentally appeared on HuffPost Live in a cameo he for which he is still ashamed.

Gay Dave
"My Gay Opinion"

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck

1. How does it make you feel when people of faith, who claim to be all about love, say things like, “gays are going to hell” just for being how God made them?

Cary Vaughn: When I was new to being out, this infuriated me because these people don't realize that until the age of 26, I tried not being gay. I prayed. I hated myself. I ignored who I was supposed to be. It's kind of like that awfully hypocritical saying, "I don't hate the sinner; I hate the sin." When words like that fell into my ears, I would become seriously infuriated. Nowadays, I am pretty desensitized to rhetoric like this. Instead, I feel sorry for those who just don't know how ignorant they sound.

Gay Dave: I think it's totally hypocritical. It's just a bunch of noise that I ignore. I think that people like that have missed the point of their religion and the meaning of love.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: What I feel for people of faith who make statements such as, "gays are going to hell," is sadness.  My feeling is that these individuals are so insecure about who they are, and how God views them that they feel they need to speak for God in a way that they present themselves as more worthy of salvation.  That's not God speaking through them, that is fear.  I feel sorrow for these people, because they are letting fear control them and their actions.

2. They’ve asked scientists and other heterosexuals if being gay is a choice or how they were born, but for some reason they never ask the people who are gay themselves, so with that said, is it a choice or was it how you were born?

Cary Vaughn: I can't speak for everybody else on this as I believe that sexuality is pretty broad, but for me, I certainly didn't choose it. I knew since I was a child. It just happened. As a matter of fact, as a teenager, if I had the ability to choose, I would have chosen not to be. Where I come from, the world is cruel to gay people, and I didn't want to have to endure that, so I stayed "in the closet." People often wonder how, if I was married, I could have sex with a woman. I just tell them that a young man with a sex drive will put his penis in pretty much anything. I had sex with a woman, but I was always attracted to men.

Gay Dave: Oh it was definitely how I was born. Looking back at my life and when I was little, it was pretty obvious. As stereotypical as it sounds, I would always prefer to play with Barbie than GI Joe...although, Barbie did need someone to date because Ken was just her gay BFF. HA! But I always remember being more attracted to boys than girls. That was even before I knew what being gay meant.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I can state without any hesitation that being gay for me is not a choice...it is who I am.  I was born into a family with 3 other siblings (whom I love dearly and they, in turn, love me fully).  For the most, we were all presented with the same set of circumstances in our developmental stages.  We watched the same movies, we played the same sports, we hung around with the same kids and we were given the same set of parental guidance and love.  In the debate over homosexuality being one of nature vs. nurture, the nurturing I received was extremely similar to my siblings, and yet I am the only one who identifies as being gay.  I remember quite early on while watching movies like King Kong, with Jessica Lange, or Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep, and television shows such as Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman that I didn't have the same reaction as my brothers' to the females that were being showcased in limited clothing.  There was no desirous thoughts crossing my mind.  I did, however, feel an attraction for Lee Majors as The Six-Million Dollar Man.  Even earlier than that I was drawn to Gary Collins in the television series, The Sixth Sense, and to Brian Keith in Family Affair.  At the time I wasn't mentally developed enough to understand that I had an attraction for these television leading men.  And yet, looking back I can see that even at 5 years of age I was attracted to males.  The only choice that I ever had was to live my life as the person I was as gay or lead a miserable existence of deception and self-hatred.  To be honest, I think if I didn't accept who I was and what my sexual orientation was then I would have lead a sexless life.

3. Based on what you already know and experienced from being gay it today’s world, would you recommend other gays to remain in the closet and stay hidden, or kick open the door and let the people know that you’re here, you’re queer and they need to get used to it?

Cary Vaughn: This is such a personal choice. I get uncomfortable when people make generalized statements about what gay men (closeted or otherwise) should do. How can these people have no consideration for individual circumstances? Yes, there is power in numbers, but when you come out, your life changes (at least mine did). Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. A life transition like that requires a person to be in a good place so that they are emotionally prepared for either. I think what's lacking is support for those that are scared of making this change. I mean, coming out is like confessing to a lie. A really BIG lie. It's not easy to confess to the world you lied to them this whole time.

Gay Dave: I think coming out is a very personal thing and you have to pick the right time to come out. As much as I'd love to say that coming out is the best thing ever, for some young gay kids, coming out could cause them to get kicked out on the street or banished from their families. If they're young and in a supportive family, sure they can come out. Otherwise it might be better to wait until they're on their own and can support themselves financially and emotionally. If they're older and already on their own, then it's just best to come out when they're ready. I don't think it's right to out someone.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I would never recommend other gay people remain in the closet, but I can understand why some would want to.  If there is one fundamental truth that I hold dear to and live by it is the words written by Shakespeare in Hamlet where Polonius speaks his last words of advice to his son, Laertes:

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."

I cling to these words as a beacon of light...and of personal courage.  I must be true to who I am, and to live as freely, openly and honestly as possible.  If I cannot be true to myself then regardless of what I do or say to others I would be living a lie and being false to those who know me.  This is how I choose to live my life.  I have found peace and happiness in living this way, and I would encourage others to live their truth.  But, I would be remiss not to state that in making the decision to live my life this way I have lost things.  I was asked to leave my high school and not return, I've had family members turn their backs to me and never speak to me again, I lost my best friend, I was shunned by church members and church leaders, I found myself homeless with nothing except a small bag of clothes and eighty dollars in my pocket.  I lost a lot of things by being publicly outed in high school and it was extremely difficult.  And yet, even with everything I lost, I am happy for having the courage to live an open life.

4. What’s your opinion with how gays are portrayed in Hollywood?

Cary Vaughn: My opinion is that it's rather silly to give entertainment the power to persuade mine or the public's opinion. It's merely entertainment. And entertainment (for the sound mind) is only an escape from the real world. I will say, however, that there are certainly more gay role models being portrayed in movies and television than when I was growing up. When I "came out" Will & Grace was a popular television show, and in my inexperienced mind, gay people were either a serious Will or a flamboyant Jack. It was life that taught me that there are just as many varieties of gay men as there are straight men. So with that I say, if you really want to learn about gay men and gay culture, don't use a medium of fiction as a reference. Get out and get to know some gay people for goodness sake.

Gay Dave: I'm surprised at how many gay roles there are now in Hollywood. I grew up in a time when you didn't see anyone gay on TV. I mean there were some "questionable" characters but there weren't out gay characters. Now there's gays, lesbians, transgenders everywhere....I think it's great for gays to see themselves portrayed in the media. It shows gays that they're not alone and gives them characters to relate to. Sure sometimes the roles are stereotypical but sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. HA! But it's good when that's not always the case.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: In terms of how gays are portrayed in Hollywood today I would say that we are finally being shown as people.  It has taken a long time to get to the point of showing gays that are vastly different.  In decades past gays were generalized as being overtly feminine.  I accept and embrace the gay males that openly express their femininity, and love them for the courage they exhibit.  But not all gay men are the same.  We all come from different backgrounds with different views and different feelings.  Just as straight people are different so are gays.  When I was young and gay we didn't have many people who were openly gay that we could look toward to give us a sense of self-acceptance and pride, so many gay people from my generation felt alone and isolated.  It would have been wonderful to have gay male Hollywood icons that I could identify with.  I remember attending the GLAAD awards one year when Marriage Equality was in the earliest public debate and one of the attendees was Elizabeth Taylor.  She took to the stage and said, "I don't know what all the fuss is about gay marriage.  The way I see it is if two people love each other they should be able to get married.  And I should know a thing or two about marriage!  And, I've been very fortunate in my career to have worked with all the most wonderful gay actors in Hollywood.  I worked with Montgomery Clift, I worked with Rock Hudson, and I worked with James Dean!"  It would have been personally incredible to know that these Hollywood A-List actors were gay, but if they wouldn't have had the career they did if they were out and open.  We needed to grow as a society before Hollywood could portray us accurately.  We've finally reached that point, and I'm thrilled to see it.

5. Would you say that most people of faith are accepting of you and your way of life and show you much love, or condemning and constantly trying to change you and/or demeaning?

Cary Vaughn: It wouldn't be fair to make a general statement about this. Some are kind and accepting, others are not. To me, a person's mental stability has more to do with how they treat a gay person than their faith.

Gay Dave: I'm lucky because I live in a state that isn't very religious. So nobody ever tries to condemn me or change me for religious reasons. I've been discriminated against for being gay but never by religious people, it's always been from ignorant people. Some members of my family are some what religious (Catholic) and accepting of me and I work in a company that is owned by a Jewish family and they're completely accepting of me. I came out in the job interview so they knew from the get go. Personally I think Jewish people have had their time being persecuted and they're much more accepting of gays. But that's just my personal experience.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: For the most part, I don't come across too many people of faith that spew hateful sentiments toward me, because the church that I attend was originally founded with its doors open to everyone but with a special outreach to the LGBT community.  I usually take part in the annual Los Angeles Gay Pride parade, and there are always a number of protesters carrying signs declaring that God Hates Fags or Burn In Hell Sodomites, or some other such disgusting, vile words of hate.  This past Saturday, I attended the memorial service for my friend, Rev. Malcolm Boyd, and I was momentarily taken aback by the sight of some elderly man who was carrying a homemade sign of some form of hate.  My husband and I walked boldly toward the protester...all the while holding each other's hand.  I couldn't tell exactly what it said because as we were passing the man to climb the steps to the church he began screaming at us and told us that someone had torn part of his paper sign.  He still let us know that God hates us and that we'd be going straight to hell.  STRAIGHT to hell?  The irony of the statement brought a smile to my face, and I waved to him and said, "God bless you, brother."  I guess that the effectiveness of the protesters' hateful ways has long since been lost to me.

6. Do you ever get tired of hearing straight men say, “I don’t mind gay people, as long as they don’t try anything”?   

Cary Vaughn: Ha. I've never encountered this one, actually. Must be nice to think you're so hot that homos are anxious to "try something." To those straight men, I would say, "Honey, don't worry. Straight men are absolutely terrible at gay sex. You wouldn't do it for me at all."

Gay Dave: I've never actually had a straight guy say that to me. If they did, I'd probably make a comment about them being hot or having a nice ass  just to unnerve them. HA!   

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: This statement must be one that is said to straight men.  I don't ever hear it personally.  I have many friends who are heterosexual, and I would never disrespect them in any way to make them feel uncomfortable.  Although I do have a very dear straight friend who works in law enforcement, and used to work for the bomb squad, that insists on greeting me with a kiss on the lips.  His wife laughs and says that I am one of the very few men he ever kisses that way.  And then there is my straight brother-in-law, Jimmy.  He and I have the most wonderful, mutually-loving relationship.  He's been calling me with the nickname, Precious, since the first day we met.  He grabs my head and plants a big old kiss on me.

(This must be something that only straight men say to each other when trying to come off as tolerant, a half-assed attempt at being political correct I guess.)  

7. Why do you think some people fight so hard to keep gays from marrying, with arguments like, “the sanctity of marriage” and/or the ever famous, “it would lead to bestiality, incest, etc.”, when marriage as it stands between one man and one woman is by no means for the most part respectable and/or holy?

Cary Vaughn: I believe that people fight so hard against same-sex marriage simply from indoctrination and/or social acceptance (my peers are against gay marriage so I am, too). Nowadays, it's as if some are trying to "out-Christian" each other with more and more outrageous claims (such as same-sex marriage leading to marrying a pig or a child), as if it makes them a better Christian if they think up more horrible things about gay people than their predecessor. We've gone from "gay parents stunt the developmental growth of children" all the way to "gays will die out because we don't reproduce." I sit by and anxiously await what these people (who have absolutely no experience with science or gay culture) will think of next. I'm just stumped as to why some people latch on to maniacal rhetoric such as that without considering logic and reason.

Gay Dave: That's easy, it's about discrimination and fear of what they don't know. People who are closed minded can't see anything outside of their own little world. Once they believe something, they can't admit they're wrong about it.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am not sure why some people are fighting so hard to stop gay marriage.  Maybe some people just are not happy unless they have something to hate.  They NEED to have something, or someone, where they can direct their anger to feel a sense of superiority.  Some seem to be going to great lengths to prevent Marriage Equality from happening, and make outrageous allegations of how it is going to ruin society, or that it will lead to bestiality or incest.  You have to wonder what the world would be like if they were able to redirect all this negative energy and focus it positively on something that they appreciate and would like to see flourish and succeed.

8. Have the actions of people, who claim to be of faith, in regards to gays hinder your feelings towards said faith?

Cary Vaughn: Yes. It's hard not to, though I know this isn't fair to judge a group of people based on a few. But I make these judgments based on experience, not prejudice. I've been emotionally burned too many times in the name of God. It would be stupid of me not to be guarded.

Gay Dave: Oh yeah, I'm not religious at all and I wouldn't get involved in an organized religion. I wouldn't get involved in any organization (religious or otherwise) that discriminates for any reason. I wouldn't join a country club that doesn't allow blacks or an all male club that excludes women either. Unless you're accepting of everyone, I'm not interested. You know what, if someone has a problem with gays that's there problem and not mine, I'd prefer to be told up front and we can both move on with our lives.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: People of Faith are first and foremost people, and we are all human with faults.  And yes, that includes me.  I am not perfect, and I am not a Saint, and I still can grow and learn about topics or issues that I am either ignorant or misguided about.  I accept that in myself, and I accept that in others.  It is rather disheartening to hear people that we would like to believe has a closer connection to God make statements that just do not ring as being from a place of love and inclusiveness, and I can only hope and pray that at some point they will receive a revelation and change of heart.

9. Is it scary being gay in today’s world?

Cary Vaughn: It is. Every time I read a story about violence and emotional abuse against gays (and it happens much more often than you may realize because most of them aren't covered in mainstream media), I always think to myself, 'That could have easily been me or my partner.' I'm getting sad even thinking about this, actually. There are places I don't go because of this. Church, for example.

Gay Dave: Not where I live. But there's certain places in the world I wouldn't go because of the way they treat gays. For me as a teen, being gay was very scary and life threatening but once I became an adult it really hasn't been an issue.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I have seen such a huge societal change since first coming out in 1979.  That period, and the era of the AIDS epidemic, were scary times, but those frightening times made us strong and fearless.  We found our voice and we used it to help change perception.  Today I see how the groundwork that we did back then has helped mold the general understanding of what being gay really is, and how youths are able to express themselves with pride.  There are still cases where young LGBT individuals are victimized due to their orientation, so I know that we still need to educate some people.

10. When it comes to equal rights for gays, are we as a society making long strides and on the right track, or taking baby steps and even sometimes standing still?

Cary Vaughn: I think we are moving at the right pace. History has taught us that cultural change has a timeline. However, when I first came out, I never thought I would see states legally recognize same-sex marriage in my lifetime. Goes to show you never know. As much as I wish we could wave a wand and create acceptance, you can't change a world's perspective in a short amount of time and you can't force this change. Doing so only creates more resistance and anger, and my life is already full of enough conflict.

Gay Dave: I grew up in a time when gay marriage wasn't even an option. I never thought I'd be able to get married. So now that I can, I still haven't. I've been with my partner for 13 years and we talk about it but more in terms of what it could legally grant us. The institution of marriage isn't that important to us. So when you think about it in those terms (marriage and gays in the media), I think we've come quite a ways in my lifetime. But it's been a slow time coming. I can't believe there are still places that don't allow gay marriage which is saying that we're still ok with discrimination in this country. For me it's not a question of what does marriage mean (is it between a man and a woman or two men or two women), for me it's a matter of who can we discriminate against and who is it ok to withhold rights from. I'd like to think that in my life time I'll see gay marriage in all states and maybe we'll start worrying about more serious issues like poverty, homelessness, and the Kardashian's setting the women's movement back 100 years. HA!

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am quite proud of the advancements that we have seen over the past 3.5 decades.  When you look at the actual time frame, 35 years to get progress to this point is rather astounding.  We haven't yet achieved all we hoped and dreamed for in terms of equality for the LGBT community...but I'm hopeful to see it come to full fruition before it is my time to be welcomed into Jesus' arms.

11. How do you feel about the "Sodomite Suppression Act" and/or the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”?

Cary Vaughn: When I first read about Matt McLaughlin's proposal, I thought I was reading satire. When I realized he was serious, I kind of laughed to myself (see answer about sitting back and watching what these crazy people will do next) because we all know that a law like this will never pass. The religious freedom bills that are popping up across the US, however, are annoying. It's hard to believe that some still don't understand that for every action, there is a reaction. For Matt, there's currently a petition to have him (rightfully) disbarred (and it's already at 35,000 signatures and growing), and on many occasions, large businesses have threatened to take their money elsewhere if a state signs a religious freedom bill into law (I've provided links supporting this below):

If only the parents of the people who are behind these proposed laws would have raised their children to not be bigots, they wouldn't now be marked in history as an embarrassment to this country. 

Gay Dave: Well I didn't know that these acts existed. I find it sad that people would spend SO much money to try and make discrimination and even murder legal. That money could be spent doing something good for the world instead of tearing it down. I feel the same way about all the money being spent on laws to prevent gay marriage. Use that money to help those in need! Stop spreading hate!

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am repulsed by the "Sodomite Suppression Act," and find that a person who thinks it would be a good idea to kill a group of people should be locked up from society.  I am all for free speech, but a person who believes this is a justifiable act is a seriously dangerous individual with demented thoughts.  As for the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," I can understand that people have their own personal religious beliefs that drive them, but they probably shouldn't open public businesses.  If they object so fervently to differences in beliefs then they should perhaps find a different line of work.  I couldn't imagine a company putting up signs that says, "We don't serve Jewish people, or Buddhists, or Muslims." 

Needless to say the treatment of the LGBT community in this world of ours is appalling, shameful and utterly ridiculous, and if things don’t change for the better real soon, I could honestly see us fighting another Civil War.

Now of course we all know there’s no such thing as a “Civil War”, it’s an oxymoron,  it’s not like we say to each other before we fire on them, “Excuse me my brother, would you mind if I shot you”.

Nevertheless, that is where we are heading if we don’t make some drastic changes to our way of thinking, but this time instead of fighting over slavery, trades, etc, we will be fighting over people’s sexual orientation, and tell me that’s not ludicrous.

I am ashamed to admit this, but it seems as if a good majority of the negativity that is being aimed at these people is coming from those who claim to be followers of God or some other deity.

Their actions and statements give religion as a whole, regardless of the faith, a very poor reputation.

We, as God fearing individuals (no matter what God you follow) should not allow this, and should do everything in our power to fight the enemies within our walls and cleanse our faith for the betterment of its people and its message.

You may not agree with it, you may not think it’s natural, but the bottom line is it’s not for you to decide and quite frankly you should just mind your own business.

God loves us all equally, and not just the ones you think deserve it or not.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

“Real American Heroes”

You may disagree with the war we are fighting and/or not be a big fan of the Commander-in-Chief, but don't let that taint your feelings towards the amazing men and women who give their all to serve and protect this great country of ours. Their actions warrant our love and support all the time and not just during designated holidays and/or when we as people feel the need to be patriotic, they deserve much better than that. They sacrifice so that we don’t have to, they keep a watchful eye so that we can rest peacefully and they diligently stand guard so that we can be at ease, just imagine what our lives would be like if they weren’t there.

“Forgot to Remember”…

It's easy to forget and to take for granted the many blessings that we have when we're not the ones on the front lines fighting the battle, but we must do our best to not let that happen and to always remember what we have and why we have it. We should salute our soldiers of the armed forces (past, present and future) every day, and thank them from the bottom of ours hearts for the freedoms, the rights and the peace of mind they have bestowed upon us, because without them none of that would be possible. Go out of your way to shake the hand of and/or to give a warm embrace to any person who has fought or is fighting for us and our country, show them that we appreciate it and that we are aware of their unselfish deeds.

“Foxtrot Alpha Mike India Lima Yankee”…

We must also not forget the families who are left behind when their significant other, their child/parent and/or their sibling decides to embark on this journey; they remain here with uncertainties as to what the future holds for them and their loved ones. These individuals proudly give so that we can be safeguarded, so that we can have confidence in knowing that everything will be alright and that the evils in this world would be kept at bay all thanks to the due diligence of their child/parent/sibling. They may lose a little piece of themselves in the process, but at the same time they gain a tremendous amount of respect and pride as a result of the actions and passion demonstrated by their soldiers. When you come across a family who has a loved one in the military, make sure to let them know that you recognize their sacrifice and that the absence of their family member weighs heavily upon us all. 

“The Military Machine”…

There are many components that allow this machine we know to function properly, and if we were to lose any part of it the whole thing would come crumbling down around us, so make sure to support and to show love to the fine men and women in uniform who make this world a safer place for us all. There is no amount of gratitude that we can express that is sufficient for all you have done for us and how we feel towards you as a person. With that said, I do want to thank you for your service, commitment and dedication to us and our country, I truly appreciate it and may God bless you all.

“Got Your 6”…

Keep in mind that some of our soldiers need more than a friendly gesture and/or an American flag flying outside your house. They need jobs, medical attention and/or a roof over their heads. They shouldn’t have to come back to our country, especially after everything they’ve done to keep it “our” country, to have to struggle just to survive. There is absolutely no justification for this and it is completely ridiculous and disgraceful to say the least. They fought for our lives, so the least we could do is fight for theirs.

“A Personal Message to Our Soldiers”…

I have never served, so I wouldn’t even pretend to understand what it’s like to walk a mile in your boots, but I just wanted to share a personal experience that may be helpful to some of you. I have been down and out. I have been so low that I had to look up to see bottom. I felt like at the time, that the only way to find peace was to end it all. I can’t claim that our journeys took the same path, but I can promise you that you’re not alone and that help is out there. The trail may not be the easiest to travel through, but it is totally worth making the effort. You are worth it, and so are your family and friends. 



Please check out the links below, and if possible contribute to their causes, because you may feel that it doesn’t affect you directly, but trust me it does. They have scratched our backs, so now it’s time we scratch theirs.

(These are only a few charities, there are many more who would benefit greatly from your generosity) 

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Paying Attention"

Please welcome a very special guest to the Extreme Christian, her name is Cheryl Nicholl and does she have an incredible and thought provoking story to share with you.

So sit back, relax and enjoy my friends, and who knows you may just learn something.
Join award winning satirist Cheryl Nicholl in her Kingdom at A Pleasant House, as she chronicles the Elegant Decay of Midlife while dancing at Royal Balls in really expensive slippers, traveling the Globe by private carriage, gardening naked at midnight, making the King crazy, and over-stating the obvious. It’s a gift.

I was raised Catholic.

My mother was French Canadian Catholic (There is hardly a more devout group).

The challenge was, that in our small northeast Ohio village, there weren’t many- Catholics that is (or French Canadians for that matter-zilch). Chagrin Falls was full-up with Protestants, Episcopals, Lutherans and Methodists.  Very white. Very proper. Secrets kept.

Our little parish had a Parish Hall, a Church, a Residence for the priests, and a small school.

I attended Saturday religious instruction classes, which were followed by Saturday confession, and Sunday Bible study that was followed by Communion.

Until I was twelve.

At twelve I had had enough- enough with the Nuns. Enough with the blind obedience. Enough with the illogical answers to logical questions:

“Why is it Eve is the one to blame for Adam disobeying?”

“She tempted him.”

“So, why did he eat the apple? Why didn’t he just say he wasn’t hungry?”

“Cheryl. Enough.”

“How could Noah know how big to build the Ark and how did he get pairs of animals on the boat that didn’t even live on his continent? Like the Kangaroo? We’re studying Australia in school and…”

“Cheryl. Enough.”

Or this gem:

I’m eight. I’m in the confessional. Father Wolfe asks me what sins I’ve committed since last Saturday. I can’t think of a one so I make one up, “Father, I killed a dog on the way to the school bus.”

“Say ten Hail Mary’s and eight Our Father’s.”

No guidance. He didn’t call me out. He was okay with the lie. 

I wonder if he crossed himself?

I, on the other hand, drew a sigh of relief. No signs of the cross forthcoming.

And, finally, the last straw:

Our Parish received a new handsome young priest when I was in seventh grade. All the girls were crazy about him, as 12 year old girls are wont to be. 

He started weekend camping trips, but just for the boys.

The boys were excited- a camping experience just for them.

It seemed down-right unfair to me.

“What? That doesn’t seem fair. I want to camp too.”

Enough, Cheryl.

About a year later, on a Monday morning at regular school, I noticed one of my male friends was acting different.

He dropped out of sports and didn’t come to any more dances.

He got quiet.

He stayed quiet.

I never asked him why.

(Over three decades later it would come to light that that very handsome young priest had been sexually abusing boys on those camping trips.)

I believe that all Religion is humanity’s attempt to understand the unknowable, bring calm to fear, and create civil behavior among an aggressive species. I believe it is, by its very structure, always abused, because Man constructs it.

I belong to no Religion but am open to understanding all of them and reserve the right to discard the imposters.

I believe that Faith is necessary to soldier on, to get out of bed, to fall in love.

I believe it is, by its very nature, personal, not something you will always find in a sermon. One must find ‘it’ deep within oneself, but that a longing for faith can be filled with misguided promises.

I have Faith. I carry it close. It is mine and no one else’s.

I believe in Belief that great men (and women) have walked this Earth preaching Love and Understanding, and Tolerance. I believe they have had a profound effect on humanity and I am thankful for them. 

I also believe, that there have been far more people who are not in the least interested in forwarding a message of Love and Understanding and Tolerance. Their motivation is power and their currency is Hatred and Fear and Singular.

To know the difference between this dysfunctional relationship we call ‘Religion’ and Sublime Guidance in the often challenging circumstances of life, is through the ability to discern between hearing and listening, between hatred and inspiration, between acceptance and tolerance.

Let’s start by paying attention.


What a story, really gets you thinking doesn't it? What’s right for you, may not be right for someone else, so do what you need to make it through this world of ours and allow others the same respect.


Monday, March 9, 2015


I just want my readers to be aware that there is more out there in the way of religions/faiths/beliefs than what they know, then what they are familiar with, and just because someone isn't a Christian doesn't mean that they are a terrorist and/or an ungodly heathen.

Here is a look at some different religions/faiths/beliefs and other’s prospective on Christianity as a whole. You never know, what you read here may just open your eyes to what is happening in the world outside your personal bubble and how the masses view your religion/faith/belief.

Let me introduce you to:
(The names/answers are color coded to make it easier to know who said what)

David Litster

I'm 44, a Navy vet, studied Physics in College but never finished, have 4 kids, will be divorced later this month.

Rich Rumple

Writer, Blogger, Comedian, Sith of Sarcasm, and Believer in Individual Thought. A traveler into the world of fiction, fantasy and 50 Shades of Sleeping. A realist and survivor of too many years of listening to the ignorance of politicians, actors, and the “I” Generation. Attended Indiana University by candlelight and oil lantern. Currently resides in the hostile land of UK fans in Kentucky.

Blog List:
That's Life ... Sometimes! http://richrumple.blogspot.com
Gabriela: The Demon Cat http://richrumple4.blogspot.com/
The Old Bastard's Outhouse http://oldbastardsouthouse.blogspot.com/


Tara Weng

Twitter: @TLWeng74

Starr Bryson

Starr works from her home in Pittsburgh as a freelance writer.  Her professional work includes editing, Social Media marketing and management, ghost writing, content management and SEO for websites, and entertainment journalism.  In the past, she has taught classes at writers’ conferences in Pittsburgh about freelancing as a career and the best practices for blogging and social media.

Starr’s creative writing ranges from humor laced snarkfests, gritty and painfully raw non-fiction all the way to the dark world of Erotica. The author behind The Insomniac's Dream, she claims blogging was only the beginning of an amazing freelancing career.

In her spare time, Starr writes fiction and is working on a paranormal novel and companion serial.  In addition, she writes short stories and manages a local writing group.  When she’s not writing, Starr is kept busy by her two hilarious and fantastically disgusting boys.

Starr enjoys adult grape juice, reading in her non-existent spare time, the occasional Netflix binge, and connecting with other writers and her readers.  She loves Halloween, Zombies, and all things horror. She aspires to be a Vampire someday.

Her claim to fame is her caustic wit, copious swears, and an ongoing battle with insomnia.  You can catch up with Starr on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  You can see what Starr has published by visiting her Amazon Author Page.

Stephanie Lucas

1. What is your religion/faith/belief of choice?

David Litster: I am a Latter-Day Saint, but I am heterodox.

Rich Rumple: Okay, as the Sith of Sarcasm, I would normally make fun of any and all topics.  However, with my age getting closer to the “no longer here” stage, religion is a topic I have to talk about seriously. 

I am of the Christian faith and believe in God, but refuse to label myself with denominational labels.  Those are for those that follow the words of men instead of God.  Instead, I worship within (and at home) with the help of the Bible.

Tara Weng: I am an atheist or irreligious by choice.

Starr Bryson: If asked to label myself, I would say that I’m a solitary practitioner of the Wiccan faith.   Although many of my beliefs stem from various other spiritual practices, at the end of the day, I am a Solitary Witch.

The beautiful part of being Wiccan/Pagan is the ability to pick and choose what parts of the faith fit you; your lifestyle, personal beliefs, and how you choose to practice and apply those to a spiritual lifestyle that works best for you.

There’s this old saying that if you asked any ten Wiccans about their faith, you’ll get at least fifteen different answers.  We do not have one governing body over our faith or a “Bible” with a universal set of rules.  Although we do vary from one tradition to the next – and even more so among the solitaries- there are a few ideals common to nearly all Wiccan and Pagan groups.

Most of us are an eclectic mix of the basic principles:  Karma, being responsible for your own actions, and Harm None (“and harm ye none”).  Many Wiccans believe in the power of 3 – everything you put out into the world, good or bad, will come back to you threefold.

Basically, we’re not assholes.  We truly do believe in Karma.  And much more than the Christian counterpart of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” we have actual consequences for our bad behaviors.  Whatever we do, however we treat people, will return to bite us in the ass.  So we strive to be good to ourselves, one another, and the Earth. 

This is my take on the faith, ask another Witch, and you might get a different answer.  The only tried and true “rule” is the belief in harming none and Karma.

Stephanie Lucas: I live in a dual reality and coexist in several dimensions simultaneously – as an astral traveler and universal observer of energetic beings. So, whatever THAT religion is…I’m there.

2. What brought you to said religion/faith/belief?

David Litster: I was raised in the church, left when I was a teenager, and as I returned to god, this is where the spirit has led me.  As my faith matured, I have come to believe that there are myriad roads to God, and that it is never my place to judge how another gets there.

Rich Rumple: I was born of Catholic faith via my mother.  We moved from the East Coast to a small town in Indiana which had no Catholic church, so I ended up going to a non-denominational Christian church with my grandparents at times.  Over the years, I attended a Pentecostal Holiness church, an A.M.E. church in the extreme South, and various Baptist churches before finally getting fed up with the preaching that was biased and slanted towards satisfying men instead of God. 

Tara Weng: I was raised Catholic and forced to go to CCD and church while my parents did not. I didn't really buy into what the church was selling and I wasn't a fan of the way women were represented by the church.

Starr Bryson: What a long and arduous adventure this was.  I was born into a Southern Baptist family, the granddaughter of a preacher who believed in the old ways and spouted hell and brimstone from his pulpit.  Truth be told, their God scared the ever loving shit out of me.

As a teenager I dabbled in Catholicism.  I joined my best friend’s church, attended Mass with her, went to all of the summer camps for teens, and really felt I had found my place. 

But, it wasn’t exactly right, and eventually I felt out of place in the Catholic Church.  I tried other Christian branches – Pentecostal, Evangelical, Nazarene, you name it, I tried it.  I studied with friends of the Buddhist faith and even researched Mormonism, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Judaism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Satanism.

Note:  I did not ever follow or participate in the latter, but I was astounded at what I discovered among their doctrines and learned from the believers versus modern day society’s take on the religion.  The myths and urban legends that surround the faith are vastly different than the actual spiritual following:  I’d recommend looking it up for an educational take on something most just assume about.

As you can see, I was lost.  I was lost, my soul was lost, and my heart ached for something spiritual that felt right to me.  A faith that would resound within, and let me know I had come home.

Then one day, shortly after the death of my first son, I stumbled onto a book titled, “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” by Silver RavenWolf.  Thus began my journey into the wonderfully spiritual and magickal world of Witchcraft. 

While my faith and beliefs have changed over the years as I have changed – the basic belief in crystal magicks, spiritual meditation, and using energy for positive reinforcement remains. 

I owe my life to Wicca, in more ways than I can ever list or express my gratitude for.  This path has lifted me up when I needed it and saved me from a dark and deep world I would have fallen into on numerous occasions had it not been for my faith in Karma and positive thinking.

As a side note:  I do prefer to practice with other witches and be a part of a Coven – or a Circle- but I move around so much and tend to be a hermit that practicing solitary is what I do. 

Stephanie Lucas: Trying seven others to no level of complete satisfaction and having a solid understanding of science – that all things in the universe are energy – that make embracing my spiritual beliefs simple. Let’s face it, religions are complicated, have a LOT of rules, and even more expectations, judgments, and often promote fear.

3. How do you feel other people represent your religion/faith/belief?

David Litster: I think you are asking about the stereotypes about Mormons.  Most of the stereotypes are pretty messed up, and very inaccurate.  Even amongst ourselves, there is a perception that Mormons are all of one mind about every important thing.  Amongst other Christians, there seems to be a need to portray us as a fringe cult, too different to even be called Christian.

Rich Rumple: Lousy.  Christians seem to be getting a bad reputation for the reasons I’ve already named.  Plus, the rotation of “items of sin” seems to change with the wind.  At one time, I had deacons visit my home and tell me that Rock Music was bad, but that Country Music was good.  I got up and played some various selections for them that contradicted their statements.  Then, I asked them to show me where the Bible listed the various genres of music and the “good/bad” listing of each.  Needless to say they left proclaiming I was the evil one.  This type of twisting of the Bible and belief structure is exactly what has taken so many away from believing in God.

And, let’s not forget about all the ministers that are nothing more than money grubbing asses.  Swag man and his hooker, Bakker and his secretary, Roberts and his 700 feet tall Jesus … and who knows what other stories that supposed men of God have concocted.  Organized religion is for the fool who wishes to part with his money, the ministers that swim in it, and the accountants that count it.  It’s bound to happen though when people put their faith in the wrong place, which again, is in men instead of God.

Tara Weng: Like anything else there are those who I think are brilliant and have a lot to say (Richard Dawkins ahem erm ahem) and there are those who actively seek out religious zealots to debate in a derogatory way.

Starr Bryson: I feel that the general populace isn’t really educated on what Witchcraft, Wicca, or Paganism is.  We’re represented as everything from evil practitioners of black magic to satanic murderers offering up sacrifices.

Even when we’re not being portrayed in a very negative light, the misunderstandings of our faith go a long way to paint us in an incorrect portrait.

For the record, we do not believe in the Christian God, so logically we do not believe in the Christian Satan, and therefore we do not offer up sacrifices to the Prince of Evil.  In fact, we don’t partake in sacrifices at all.  Remember that “an harm ye none” rule?  That sort of keeps us from doing sadistically violent activities or hurting other people.

Stephanie Lucas: It’s kind of hard to find flaws with a bunch of hippies that sprinkle fairy dust, love and light. I love all of my brothers and sisters and think they represent very well. I love my Rainbow Warriors!

4. Are you open to hear what others have to say in regards to their own personal religion/faith/belief, or is it your way or the highway?

David Litster: I follow my faith for a reason, which is that I strongly believe in personal revelation, and this is where that revelation leads me.  I believe that other people can be led in other directions, and I love hearing about their relationship with God, but I dislike others trying to convince me that theirs is the only way.  So kind of both? I don't believe that it's the LDS way or the highway, but I do believe that it's 'each their own way, or the highway'.

Rich Rumple: With my religious background, I’m always open to philosophies.  Also, I lived in the Mid-East for years and was very open to the teachings of the Koran.  It made a lot of sense in some areas, but it simply wasn’t what I believed.  Huffpost is filled with those that don’t believe in anything but attacking those that do.  For a Christian to post there is like becoming a gladiator in the Coliseum of Rome.  Each has their own right to believe, or not believe as they choose.  It’s not for man to say if what they’re doing is right or wrong, but God’s judgment to be the final voice in the matter. 

Tara Weng: I'm open but don't try and proselytize...two of my biggest influences (my grandparents) were devout Catholics but they did not ever try to shove it down my throat, nor were they mad when I didn't baptize my son.

Starr Bryson: Oh!  Absolutely.  I love to hear about other religions and faiths.  I am actually interested in hearing about all of the different faiths in the world; their histories, their rituals, their Holidays.  It’s an interesting topic.

As long as it’s not being pushed upon me, or I’m being told that I’m wrong and this is the right way – I’ll listen to anyone’s views.

Stephanie Lucas: I love, honor, and cherish all humans’ right to believe whatever they want. Who am I to judge anyone? After all, I ride cotton candy dragons that chase unicorns for fun!

5. What misconception(s) about your religion/faith/belief drives you the most nuts?

David Litster: Probably that we are all the same, and that we hate people that are of other Christian faiths or who are different than us.  This isn't to say that there aren't Mormons like that, but there is a huge variety in attitudes, and it is dogmatically incorrect to accept what anyone says based on their credentials or position in the church.  Rather, it is incumbent on each person to pray and study for themselves, and we are only responsible for how well we follow Christ, according to our individual ability to understand. 

Rich Rumple: The “light at the end of the tunnel” statement makers.  I’ve been clinically dead twice, and have never experienced light or darkness.  I passed out and woke up … nothing in between.  I have a hard time believing that there’s a light awaiting us.  I believe that the final “pass out” will bring about a new awakening of some sort, in another place with increased perceptions.  I’m of the age where I need to believe this, regardless of the idiocy surrounding it.  But, to proclaim, “I saw a light guiding me…” is only something that I believe the individual either made up or dreamt.

Tara Weng: I'm so tired of people saying "well don't you want to believe in something..." sure I would love to believe that Santa Claus comes down my chimney once a year, but it doesn't make it so...also I'm all set with hearing "you're going to hell or you're a bad parent" I don't believe in a hell and my kids are very well educated.

Starr Bryson: I have to say the Satanic Rituals theory pisses me off the most.  I mean, c’mon, we’re all about love and light, and tree hugging, and positive energy . . . really?

Also get over the images of crones flying on broomsticks.  Witches look just like you and, well, me. 

Stephanie Lucas: The people that run in my metaphysical circles pretty much accept that most people think we are nuts…and we love that. As creators of our own reality, we don’t really care what anyone thinks of our beliefs.

6. For the most part the majority of religions/faiths/beliefs aren’t necessarily evil in themselves, but rather it’s the people who claim to follow these religions/faiths/beliefs who are the ones who tarnish its name, true or false?

David Litster: True.  Very, very true.  Any organization is made up of individuals, and these individuals are never truly monolithic.  While some people are reactionaries or base their decisions on fear or hate, I have great trouble believing that even a majority of people in most groups are like that.
That being said, there are a very few groups where hating people seems to be a core value (WBC, I'm calling you out).  This seems to me to be the very antithesis of what God wants from us.

Rich Rumple: True!  Religions could be looked at as “crowd control” for the masses.  I’ve heard the belief that the rich created religions to keep the poor in line, promising them riches upon death, but only if they behaved during life.  This kept them from storming the castle and robbing the king’s vault at one time. 

Extremists are bad, regardless of their base beliefs.  Why?  Because they have no tolerance for anyone else.  They have to have things their own way as they can’t believe that they’re not as perfect as they know they are.  The world needs to remember that tolerance is a word, and an ability that human beings have that other species don’t.  Practicing it might just help everyone get along a whole lot better.

Tara Weng: Mostly true although I do think some religions teach (by way of a fanatic preaching or through text) by way of preying on others' insecurities and/or education.

Starr Bryson: True.  I forget the exact statistic here, but something like 90% (I made that up) of the world’s wars, history of violence, and genocides happened in the name of one Religion or another.

At the very basic core of most religions, there’s this faith in something bigger than yourself, a creed to treat others with kindness, and a notion to spread around love.  That’s not evil. 

Stephanie Lucas: The one time I asked my father why he didn’t ever go to church he replied, “Well, girl – If I wanted to be in a room filled with hypocrites, I’d go to church. So, in his words of wisdom I will say TRUE to a greater extent than false…

7. How do you feel people of a particular religion/faith/belief treat you as an individual?

David Litster: I don't.  I have not encountered any group that treats me consistently, as a group.  There are individuals in some groups that can be quite rude, but I don't feel that the whole group does.

Rich Rumple: That’s kind of funny.  Most believers tolerate other denominations even though they disagree on various points.  However, even though a non-believer has the right to non-believe, as I state I’m a believer they begin to sharpen their claws and spring into attack mode.

This inability to tolerate is what gets to me.  If non-believers wish to pursue that avenue, it’s fine with me, but I also have a right to pursue my path without harassment.   I’m not pushing my beliefs on others, so please don’t try to prove yours to me.  It’s really that simple.

I have no problems with Jewish celebrating as they do, Muslims prayer habits and such, or really, any other quirks of individual religions.  I respect them for their faith and adherence to practicing it.  If a person doesn’t believe, I can also live with that without discussions.

However, put up a nativity scene in public, wish a person “Merry Christmas”, or post the word “God” in any public building and the non-believers become incensed and pursue legal actions.  Again, they want everyone to believe as they do and cannot tolerate it when they don’t.  Many are like a bunch of spoiled brats when it comes to having their own way.

What’s so hypocritical is that many still celebrate gift giving on Christmas, take the Christmas holidays off work, and go crazy on Black Friday.  Yet, they cannot see the hypocrisy for the perfection they believe they exude.    Perhaps if they would practice tolerance instead of selfishness, they might attract more converts. 

Tara Weng: I get shit all the time for different reasons once I say I'm an atheist.

Starr Bryson: A lot of (uneducated) Christians treat me like this horrid, evil creature from a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, or worse, The Brothers Grimm.  They see me as “evil” and “doing the devil’s work” and as someone they need to save. 

Stephanie Lucas: Well…it depends. Certainly male Muslims in Dubai aren’t going to give you much props, nor are certain Christians if you don’t prescribe to their beliefs…Trust me, try to hook up with a person who’s extremely programmed or serious about their faith and not be willing to convert yourself to follow their beliefs – and watch that become a deal breaker. On the other hand…I find myself warmly welcomed by some of the most unexpected religious communities…they simply appreciate the genuine interest shown in becoming educated about their oft-misunderstood practices.

8. What is your outlook on Christianity as a whole, and why?

David Litster: Most Christians, and most people for that matter, don't question their own faith enough.  They spend an awful lot of energy questioning other people's faith, which isn't any of their business, when they should strive to question their own beliefs more.  Having attended a number of different denominations over the years, I have yet to encounter one that doesn't have, as an official doctrine, that they are really the only correct type of Christianity, or of Islam, or Buddhism, or whatever.  Sometimes this is very subtle, and really that bothers me more than when it is open, but I honestly believe that God is much more interested in how we treat each other than in any particular words we say.  Thus, it bothers me whenever I hear anyone preach that this dogma or that one of someone else's faith will damn them to eternal punishment.

Rich Rumple: Anything man touches he ruins.  Greed has ruled in every religion throughout history.  And, greed rules non-believers as much as the believers.

Man’s greed has created wars, executions, and suffering in the name of religion.  It seems as though it’s a way for him to validate his actions and not have to worry about the masses getting upset.  So, Christianity suffers, as will every religion, as long as man is the focal point instead of God and continues to twist the teachings.  ISIS is the latest to prove that Christianity is not alone in that! 

The sad thing is that Christianity provides the basics for life that many are missing today.  It does preach tolerance, understanding, the difference between right and wrong, and the lost practice of respect.  The last 60 years have seen a decrease in believers in the United States and everywhere else.  Take a look at today’s society and you can see where these missing teachings are so sorely needed.  Still, we ignore them … and we wonder why things are as bad as they are.  Ignorance breeds ignorance and society today is proof of that.

Tara Weng: Honestly I find it a bit odd in the sense that people will pray to a God to cure them of cancer or have their football team win a game. Also I find it more than a little disturbing when people use their God as an excuse to hate or kill. It's not my bag.

Starr Bryson: I think, at its base, the Christian religion means well.  Historically (and factually) speaking, Christianity was born out of Pagan beliefs. You can look this up, I’m not saying it to piss anyone off or start a religious war. 

They mean well.  But the fire and the brimstone aspect of the faith tends to get out of control.  Think The Crusades or The Salem Witch Trials.  Even the missionaries, though they mean well, are basically traveling to countries that have had their own belief systems and faiths that served them well for centuries and pushing the Christian God and faith on the native people.  “Saving them” from what?  Their ways worked just fine long before Christianity was invented, and will continue to serve them long after the missionaries leave their countries. 

I get that Christians think they’re helping and it’s their mission to spread The Word of God – but I feel that it’s a very pushy, self-centered, and egotistical outlook. To think that one’s way of thinking is the only way is a very narrow minded view of the world.

Stephanie Lucas: No response.

9. If you could leave people with one final thought in regard to your own personal religion/faith/belief or why it is you choose not to follow a particular religion/faith/belief, what would it be?

David Litster: Wow. Tough question.  I would want everyone to understand why I am a Christian, which really I suppose has two intertwined reasons.  First, I believe that we all repeatedly fail, and that there are consequences for that failure that are beyond any of our abilities to fix.  We need a person with an infinite ability to pay the price and suffer our consequences for us.  The intertwining reason is that I absolutely believe that Christ has paid that price for me, as an individual, and that I owe Him more than I could ever repay for that gift.  The least I can do is to give Him all the loyalty I am able, and do my best to be the person He wants me to be.  Because He made it possible for me to try again, and not suffer for my past mistakes, I owe it to Him to move past those mistakes, and try again every day to not make more of them.

Rich Rumple: I’ve been a non-believer, a believer, a follower of men, and a completely confused individual.  Yet, when I sit down and wonder “what next”, a prayer never hurts.  I don’t go to church as I’m sickened by how it has become a showplace of the latest fashions and a hiding place for thieves dressed as the elite of society.  And, man has proven himself unable to preach the words of the Bible without twisting them for his own beliefs and ideal structure. 

Yet, I believe that man had to start somewhere.  A speck of dust … a spark from another planet … a rotation of the Planet of the Apes?   Who knows?  Scientists are constantly proving themselves wrong, and are men … with the greatest egos of all the species. 

At my age, I’m going to believe.  My time on this planet is getting shorter every second.  I don’t have time for any more flip-flopping.  If I’m right then I am hopefully preparing myself for a better life.  If I’m wrong, I’m no worse off.  In fact, by showing others respect, understanding multiple points of view, knowing the difference between right and wrong, and demonstrating tolerance, I’m doing my best to set an example that others can follow, if they wish.  It’s not a life of extremism, but one of less stress and much inner peace.  The lives of others are not mine to judge.  However, watching mankind as a “progressive society” is always good for a good laugh.   And that never hurt anyone.

Tara Weng: I want to do good in the world because I believe in empathy and compassion not because I'm trying to get somewhere good beyond this life. I don't rag on people for their choices and I expect the same respect in kind. Practice what your preach--if you believe in salvation--be someone's savior right here and now.

Starr Bryson: I’m all about living and let live; as long as you’re not hurting anyone else.  I promise, I’m not in a dark forest cackling over a cauldron wishing evil on you and your family.

Chances are, I’m meditating in the sunlight over crystals, sending out waves of positive energy, love, and light to those who need it most in their lives.

And contrary to popular belief, we cannot perform a spell on, or for, anyone without their express permission.  Not even a healing spell.  But we do send out positive energy to those who need it.  It’s similar to prayer, if you need a visual aid.

We believe in everyone else believing in whatever it is they need to get by in life, to get through the hard times, the dark moments, and come out the other side in one piece.   Whatever your faith is, practice in love and light.

Blessed be.

Stephanie Lucas: Go with your instincts and don’t allow pre-conceived familial obligations concerning religion override what makes you feel most at peace. Far too many wars begin with staunch religious beliefs, maybe it’s time to give peace a chance and free yourself.

I am hoping to show all those haters out there, that there are many people who love and respect others and their religions/faiths/beliefs, even if they don't share that said religion/faith/belief as their own.

Just to give you an idea of how religion, or the lack thereof, is viewed from the prospective of outsiders looking in, I just wanted to let you know what the two biggest statements were that I heard the most while trying to put this piece together.

 The first, "You know I'm…"

As if to warn me, like I would be such a closed-minded person that by finding out that someone within my inner circle had a different religion/faith/belief than mine would cause me to separate myself from them and/or think differently about them.

The second, "Don't try to change me" 

As if my plan, sadly solely based on the fact that I consider myself a Christian, was to convert others to my faith of choice, like I had some sort of ulterior motive or some kind of evil master plan to take over the world.

Don’t misunderstand me, I know these thoughts are warranted, and I’m not at all surprised by them, especially in our world today, but I just find it very unfortunate and sad to say the least.

The morale of this blog piece, don’t fear, condemn and/or pass judgment on what you don’t know, and don’t assume that just because some of us share the same faith that we must all be cut from the same cloth.