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