I grew up in Sweden, the most secular country in the world. We - talking about most Swedish people - still celebrate Protestant Christian traditions such as Christmas and Easter, but other than that, religion has no place in our society. This secular view from society including my friends, family and most people around me, has of course affected my relation to religion and Christianity. Many Swedish parents baptize their children in the Protestant Church because of its traditional value. But my parents chose not to, so that I could choose for myself when I was old enough if I wanted to take part in any religious activities.
In the Swedish School we study religion, but there we learn about all of the world religions, from an objective perspective. We are taught how to criticize but also respect all kinds of religions and beliefs. None of my friends at home are religious, even though some are members of the Swedish Church because of tradition. It was first when I came to North Carolina that I met, with my measurements, deeply religious (or just religious) people. It has been very educational and good to meet many different kind of people with different cultures and beliefs. With that, my acceptance of differences has grown.
I believe in love and kindness between people. I think in many situations, the focus lays on hate (for example on the news or in media where it is mostly talked about terrible things that have happened, or in the Old Testament), on what people are doing wrong, on sins. I believe that we should embrace love and kindness more than try to forbid sinning and hate. I really like Jesus’ quotes “turn the other cheek” and “do to others as you would have them do to you”. These quotes are affirmative, and I think that this is much more efficient than trying to forbid and say “do not do this” and “do not do that”. Go Jesus!
Other things I have read in the bible makes me feel very uncomfortable. As a woman living in a modern feminist society, I have a hard time reading the bible and feel good. It is written mostly, if not only, by men that lived in a society where women were worth not half of what men were worth. There are countless of women degrading stories and quotes throughout the entire Bible, especially the Old Testament. This makes me stress out a bit over the fact that the world’s biggest religion is built on these old texts.
This quote among others makes me want to throw up: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” (I Corinthians 11:8-9) Of course, we can read these old quotes and think “that was written a very, very long time ago, and of course that is not true in today’s society”. But as long as the world is unequal between men and women these sentences will be counterproductive in our strive for equality. Old or not, these texts are still read all around the world and is a part of a book 30 million people think is holy.
I do not really believe in God and I do not practice any religion other than briefly joining some Christian traditions here and there. But I would not call myself an atheist either. Because atheism is also a kind of religion, another kind of strong belief, but this time, in that no god or gods exist. I do not know if a God exists or not, and I do not think that we can know that. But if I have to say what God is to me, I must say it is love. The love between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, friends and friends, boyfriend and girlfriends, wives and wives, husbands and husbands, husbands and wives, people and nature or people and their hobbies for example.
I also believe that the world would be a happier place without religions. I know that it has helped many people in tough situations but I think that other things - such as strong leadership, healthy relationships or good education, could fill up for the good things religion does without bringing all the negatives that come with religion ( such as war, “us and them”-view, division and gap between different people etc etc).
“Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace”
- John Lennon, Imagine