A problem I’ve had with many religious people is their approach to morals. You may be surprised at this, but lots of people have judged me for not having religion. Many people have asked me what my religion/faith is. I tell them that I wasn’t born with religion, and that my parents never raised me as anything. They then look at me puzzled and say “Then where do you get your morals from?” or “How do you know how to be a good person?”
When I was younger, it seemed obvious to me that I learned right from wrong from my parents. I mean, doesn’t everyone? But as I got older and people continued to ask me these questions, I became much more defensive about it. I find it incredibly ignorant and offensive that people don’t think I can be a good person because I don’t have religion in my life. I also think it’s sad that that’s what people are taught by their churches – that only good people have faith.
I’ve been reading Jimmy Carter’s Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis, which is about how the fundamentalist right-wing Christians have gained influence over the past two decades in the Republican party. I didn’t know this, but he is (was?) a member of the Southern Baptist Church, and even though he is a devout Christian, he was still able to separate any personal conflicts and beliefs from what was best for the country (ex: Roe v. Wade).
As I read his book, it surprises me every once in a while how important it is to him that people embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ. He’s not waging a war on everyone who isn’t Christian, nor is he fervently trying to convert his reader. It’s just how he feels as a devout Christian, and it’s not the kind of book I’ve ever chosen to read before. His arguments, however, are exactly what I agree with. I just finished the chapter about women’s roles in the church, and how Jesus believed that men and women should worship God as equals; however, the men in charge of the church are misogynists and demote women’s positions in the church, family, and professional worlds.
While Jimmy Carter seems to base his morals on the teachings of Jesus Christ, I feel like he wouldn’t judge me for not having religion. And I hope that more and more faithful people can understand this. We don’t need religion to be good people. It has no place in government (which Jimmy Carter also believes), especially in a country that was created based on religious freedom, not just the freedom of different sects of Christianity.