I’ve heard my entire life “don’t talk about money, religion, or politics”. Money was easy to understand. You never know if someone feels embarrassed at their lack of net worth, so its best to keep that personal. But religion and politics, it was ingrained at such a young age in public schools that I never questioned it. I guess I stored that wisdom in my brain alongside the other “never questioned” ideas like; say “God Bless You” when someone sneezes, if you bully a little girl growing up it means you like her, and a bunny is Jesus’ resurrection mascot.
So when the topic of religion was brought up a book club last month, apprehension was felt instantly. Like when a co-worker makes a sex-joke in a meeting. That “are we going to let this fizzle out or is someone going to respond” feeling.
A few in attendance knew I was writing a new book series where the first novel touches religion and spirituality in grave detail, so naturally their eyes glanced my direction. I thought my anxiety would turn into panic, like when you make eye contact with a teacher after she asks a question you weren’t listening to. But instead something strange happened.
The second I responded to the atheist’s opinion, I felt relief.
I was born and raised Catholic, so I talked about my feelings toward the Bible but also explained why it allows for so much doubt. I brought up a key theme in my upcoming book, that religion is one of the only things in mankind that has not evolved since it’s inception. And that lack of evolution has caused a whole host of problems from inconsistencies to outdated ideals. But as I spoke, feeling that sense of release, I realized the original pent-up worry had nothing to do with the actual topic itself, but rather the urge to keep quiet,
When it is ingrained in you to not talk religion and politics, you fail to have productive conversations about them. And when you fail to constructively talk about something, you fail to learn different perspectives and your opinions fail to evolve.
Not only has the subject matter of Christianity not changed since the Bible about 2,000 years ago, but we have been taught to not even discuss it. And I’m not just talking about disagreeing, I mean having any conversation whatsoever, even conversations that enhance your faith in God. The only place to discuss religion openly is at Church with people who share mostly the same opinions as you already.
Once the conversation shifted, it became even more clear. That sense of relief was me no longer treating religion differently. Breaking the ingrained shackles of restraint and being able to talk freely and honestly with someone who had different viewpoints. And all I needed was a few glancing eyes my way to give me that approval to speak openly.
The lack of religious evolution has been amplified by our general societal norm to not discuss it, but if we all begin to speak openly and respectfully about it, we’ll be able to progress our beliefs like we do any other aspect of our society.
The political landscape is as perplexing as ever and people’s beliefs in God and religion are becoming just as confusing, and the common denominator is “stay away from politics and religion.” We need to learn how to talk about these topics at a young age, not taught how to suppress them.
And if we’re speaking openly about areas we never questioned before… watch out Easter Bunny, you’re next.