A (Safe Space) Faith & Religion Thread

Not sure how much mileage there is in this thread, but thought it’s not a bad idea to have a safe space for discussion of faith/religion. Whether that’s your personal experiences and feelings, discussion of writings and teachings, or commentary on current events.

To clarify the safe space in the context of this thread, anyone is welcome to post so long as you are respectful of those posting who may have religious beliefs. It’s not a place to grill people (genuine and respectful questions are okay), mock religion, or make sweeping dismissive statements. For example, it’s absolutely fine to say that you can no longer consider yourself Catholic because of the handling of the sex abuse crisis, but not to say that its immoral for anyone to remain part of the Catholic Church because of it, or that the Church is intrinsically evil. I’m perfectly happy for someone to create a non-SSP version if they want to discuss things without those restrictions :slightly_smiling_face:


In regards to myself, I guess I sort of see myself as a Catholic in exile right now (I more or less have since coming out as transgender). I have only been to Mass a handful of times in the last two and a half years, and haven’t received communion. My faith seems to sort of come and go nowadays from anywhere between more-or-less agnostic to reasonably strong. And my feelings towards the Catholic Church frequently yoyo between love and dismay. I wish I could find some kind of active forum for progressive Catholics, but even if it’s mostly me talking to myself I guess this space might help? I’m planning to read the new encyclical Fratelli tutti later so I’ll probably post some thoughts on that.

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This is a great idea for a thread :slight_smile:

Really relate to this. I consider myself a Christian and have for most of my life, like if I had to tick a box on a form that’s the one I’d choose without a second thought. But sometimes stuff happens in the world that makes me really, really struggle with it and question it.

Think I’ve spoken about it before but I wasn’t brought up to be Christian at all- my Mum was very spiritual, but not actively religious, and my Dad (and that whole side of my family actually) are actively anti any religion of any sort. How it happened for me, and actively trying to go to Church every Sunday, is a strange and personal story- might get more into it later (have to go out in half an hour).

Find theology as a whole fascinating. But yeah, I struggle with aspects of it. I believe in a higher power guiding me and giving me strength, but I can understand completely why others wouldn’t. And like I said, I don’t understand how some of the suffering in the world can happen if there is such a loving God, I question that a lot. If anyone has the answer, do let me know!

I don’t really talk about it all that much, even on here where I’m a pretty open book, cause it’s personal to me. If someone asks I say, but I dunno. And I haven’t been to church this year, for reasons. Try to catch the live streams (they’ve always put the services on YouTube which is cool) though.

Also, interestingly, seeing as this is an SSP place something really shocked me about my faith and religion recently. So I’ve been going to AA meetings and they use the word God but actively make a point of saying it’s a symbolic word, like if your higher power and guide isn’t God then that’s fine cause it’s personal to you. I assumed I’d take God to mean God for me, considering that’s what I believe in, but I don’t feel like it is. Feel strongly that it’s something else guiding me and giving me strength in that process, so that was fascinating to me. Truly believe in God’s guidance in most other areas of my life, but not that one. Weird, huh?!

Feel like I’m a pretty bad Christian, though. I dunno. Probably linked to low self image and belief.

Sorry, ramble ramble. Might elaborate later if anyone is interested, but hope this makes some sense cause it’s a bit rushed and written after two red bulls :grin:

Lovely thread though WC, looking forward to discussing more if you want to. X

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Oh, one more thing quickly.
Imo we’re all entitled to believe what we believe and it’s personal to each individual and their life journey and I don’t judge whatsoever, I don’t know your path nor is it my business.

But chatty atheists like Dawkins and Gervais who imply that any faith makes you stupid make my blood boil. They’re always the loudest as well.

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Exhausting isn’t he? Was in a book shop and saw that he had another book out called Outgrowing God or God Fatigue or Silly Old God or something like that. He’s got one thing

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We’ll be bad Christians together at least! Then again, if many of those who loudly claim to be ‘good Christians’ truly are, then I think we’re probably on the right path being bad ones!

When I’m having a crisis of faith (as I often am), I think about what my faith has done with me as a person. And, a few brief ill-advised standpoints aside, I think all it ever seems to do is make me more compassionate, more patient, and more selfless. Which makes it even more difficult for me to understand how the very same religion can lead other people towards extreme hatred.

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I used to be agnostic leaning towards atheism (as in “I don’t believe in any higher power at all, but I don’t want to be too mouthy about it in case I die and God gets proper narky at my eternal soul”), but now I’m (kind of surprisingly to myself?) agnostic learning away from atheism.

It’s more a sort of “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in yr philosophy” sort of thing, but I’m definitely more open to questions / ideas of religion and faith especially considering how the likes of Dawkins and Gervais wilfully misunderstand what these aspects bring to a persons’ life (religious belief =/= religious fundamentalism, which is total bullshit). Don’t really think I could appreciate the weird appeal of art and Manches’ Weird Poetic Thought Ramblings™ without having at least some engagement with religious ideas.

When I accept the award for Wankiest Load Of Absolute Nonsense Ever Posted On DiS for the above paragraph, I will thank a vague concept encompassing chance and indeterminacy that can be conveniently summed up as God

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Also you can’t really know your own thoughts, I think it’s perfectly rational (and healthy?) to externalise that part of yrself into another form?

Also really fascinated by theology. I’ve always read what I consider ‘approved Catholic’ texts (though closing liberation theology under that will make some blood boil) so it would be really interesting to read some other Christian theology - I remember seeing a couple of interesting books about faith in capitalist society and faith and the environment several years ago which I decided not to get unless (I realise how absurd this sounds now) they tricked me with their protestant leanings! :man_facepalming:

Might see if I can find them again.

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This is a really interesting topic to discuss and I have a lot to say. Have been brought up as Muslim, my whole family are Muslim, extended too, including anyone who married into the family regardless of their race. There were not many Muslims in my schools growing up, though I was friends with some of those who were. I went to a faith based school every saturday from year 6 to year 12, which had lessons in arabic reading, writing and grammar, Islamic history and teachings and the Quran. It was amazing for me in many ways as it was so nice being with people who were culturally similar, it was something I didn’t realise I missed until I has it. Also at school I would get “you’ve got another eid? Havent you had one already? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:” when trying to book a day off but in arabic school eid was hyped up like Christmas is and it didn’t feel like this silent private occasion that didn’t exist outside of my family anymore. I also got to learn a lot about my faith and be literate in arabic which allows me to this day to still read the Quran in its original format. I experienced racism as one of the few non arabs (majority were from the middle east and me, my 2 Moroccan pals and one somali pal were the only non arabs so we stuck together so even that wasn’t so bad). I came from liberal parents who didnt force me to wear the hijab. My mum and sister do, but I don’t, and three of my close female cousins don’t, while other cousins do (I have over100 first cousins, with 20 or so in the uk lol). This helped me feel closer to my faith as I could remain close to the ideals of like keeping halal, no alcohol, no sex outside of marriage etc) but wear what I want - the idea of hiding oneself from the male gaze always seemed pointless as men stare at women in the veil (I’ll find a picture on this, its ridiculous), and I don’t take ownership and responsibility for others, its their problem and nothing to do with me so I won’t change my clothing style to “protect” myself if that makes sense. There are outdated concepts in my faith, the quran talks about the ideal treatment of slaves, polyamory that supports women in a time when ideal husbands were scarce due to war or whatever- stuff that is pretty anachronistic and irrelevant to today. I trust in my faith 100%, and definitely had people at uni (Richard Dawkins enthusiasts etc) treat me pityingly due to this belief in god and heaven and hell etc, especially as a biology student where science is supposed to take precedent as the source of knowledge. I believe that humans are limited by the technology at our disposal, we once (and some still do :expressionless:) thought the earth is flat because it was scientifically logical, but that doesn’t make it true, as technology proved. There are many parts of the Quran that allude to scientific discoveries that were not known at the time (600 or so years ago after Christianity) and actually studying life in its tiny forms in my Microbiology degree, and seeing the perfection of the way these single celled organisms communicate and live just strengthened my faith rather than shake it. It’s too perfect to be an accident, and every time I watch a documentary about animals or ecosystems or the human body, again, it’s too perfect to be an accident in my opinion and strengthens my already unshakeable belief in a higher power. Being religious is really personal, there are those who think I’m dumb for my faith, and those who think I don’t take it seriously because I don’t look identifiably Muslim, but they can all go fuck themselves. Also, it upsets me when people use faith as justification for hatred. If they think that being gay is wrong for example, who are they to hurt people because of it? Surely they should leave the judgement up to God. I think my faith helps me be a kinder person, I am secure in my faith of divine judgement so even if someone harms me or my loved ones in the worst way, I would have that comfort knowing that there will be a time when that person will face punishment and should not take it in my own hands. Similarly, if I feel like I’ve suffered I remember that this life is a test and that others suffer too, but our own individual actions can dictate our next life. It is really freeing and also calming. It helped me deal with the deaths of my loved ones, and I’m already really high strung but my faith grounds me. Islam has a bad reputation in many parts of the world but is the fastest growing faith, which always makes me feel better when my hackles rise at the concept of Islamophobia. I have respect for all religions and love learning about other faiths, though in Islam the only religions that came from God are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I feel a part of something special which enriches my life, and though I am a critical thinker who naturally likes to come to their own conclusions, the faith that was imposed on me at birth became my own choice somewhere down the line and is the most important part of my identity, above my race, gender, personality, politics etc. It has made me a better person, a more patient person, a kinder, more empathetic person and most of all, it has given me the strength and will to stay alive when there were times I felt better off dead.

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I said I had a lot to say but I didnt realise it was this much :flushed:

And about covering oneself from the male gaze to maintain modesty, like, sis can be covered from head to toe and people will still look. This captures it perfectly

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Am an anti-theist on ethical grounds but the wider sociological aspects of faith in building society and how it’s shaped, and then in turn been re-shaped itself by societies, particularly more localised changes in political ideologies and modernisation is really fascinating to me. That thought of wanting to do better, not necessarily in a calvinistic way to get to heaven but in a more empathic sense and basing it off a higher communality - is the groundwork of so much. I’m glad it can help so many people in that regard.

I’ll tell you one thing I’m increasingly finding is how much appreciation/jealousy I have for the community side of religion and how obviously good and helpful it is in times of dificulty.

My partner is Muslim and I was raised Christian (but haven’t practiced/have shunned since I was 14 or so) but having attended a funeral in my family last week (and it being an extremely difficult week even aside from that) and having attended and participated in my partner’s Nan’s funeral towards the end of last year I’ve found myself yearning for the comfort of that community side to some extent.

I found the Islamic funeral extremely moving as well, the entire community gathering to sing prayers all the while the family privately mourns separately (with a curtain drawn in this instance) was really powerful to witness. It felt weird last week as well to be going to a funeral I was more used to with distance and a kind of stand-offishly sombre nature to it. It felt very odd, I literally helped carry the coffin and dig the grave for my partner’s Nan but when it came to my own Granddad it was so much more passive as a grieving process.

Not really making any kind of point here beyond “religion comes into its own during difficult moments” which isn’t exactly the most profound observation in the world but it really does and you can see why so many people are drawn to it.

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Grew up with a strong Catholic influence on my mum’s side. Went to Catholic school and went to church on and off. Dad always very vocal disbeliever. Never felt any attachment to it as a kid and now very much agnostic.

I’m not opposed to the idea of believing in a higher power at all. I think there are mysteries to life that are simply beyond human comprehension (for now).

What I’ve never really understood, and would love to know from people who are willing to share here, is where their belief in the tenets of their religion come from. So for example, why do the Christians on here believe that if their is a god, that it is the Christian god, and that this god sent their son to die for humanity’s sins.

Great idea for a thread.

I do not participate in any form of organised religion although it was a significant part of my childhood. There is something about the structures and people that puts me off. I find it detracts from what I want from it.

Christianity was the defining identity of the people that raised me. This consequently informed my beliefs. For better or worse, it continues to actively define how I approach most things in every day life.

It manifests itself in a lot of my behaviour. Wishing Trump dies was a recent discussion here. It is not a sentiment I can appreciate.

Following from this, is the belief in the collective. There is two aspects to this, for me. First, is a respect for those that in a position of power.

To explain this, I will refer to the note GHW Bush left Bill Clinton upon the peaceful transition of power. In it he expressed that Clinton was the President and deserved the support and guidance of everyone, even from those that disagree.

This is one of my beliefs that is actively challenged. In no way do I identify with the current Government but I cannot help but wish them well, in the sense I hope they are guided by a belief in what is the right thing to do, and not just the easiest.

The second aspect of the collective is the protestant work ethic. With it comes an optimistic outlook on human nature. I am very hopeful on human behaviour. Another way to look at this is the outright rejection of cynicism as useful.

Television and films are difficult to watch sometimes. There is no way for me to sit through Kardashians or Real Housewives without an overwhelming rejection of their wealth as immoral. That accumulation is grotesque and in no way do I find it of any interest.

This is such a hodgepodge of thoughts. They are in no way firm beliefs. I continually questions and challenge them myself.

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I really miss that side of religion. Was brought up in a v. Catholic environment, but have mostly been veering between agnosticism and atheism as an adult. There’s definitely a gap in my life that was filled by religion when I was a young person. Wrote a fairly long post, but it was making me feel odd.

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My maternal grandparents were brought up Catholic, but rejected it to be atheists, so my mum was brought up with no religion. As a kid she had a friend whose parents were Baptists and she went to the Girl’s Brigade with this neighbour, but was expelled for being a Bad Girl.

She then at some point in the 70s got very heavily into new age stuff, like true believer level, which is probably far far worse than her being Catholic. She genuinely strongly believes in astrology, to the extent that she tried to convince me Jupiter broke my old laptop by squaring Mercury retrograde. About half an hour ago she was on the phone to me about Mars being in retrograde this month.

She also doesn’t really believe in medicine but flip-flops between different convictions on the topic. I’m very very glad she never got into something like Christian Science that has very fixed beliefs about rejecting medicine.

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This is wonderful. I can empathise with a lot of it

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Recently made peace with religion after veering dangerously into full on hatred/distrust of it in general.

I’m agnostic at a push, with zero affiliation to any faith. But people like wileycat and Kermit made me realise not all Christians are like those I met at university or like those on American TV. My view was really warped.

The reason for my unhealthy relationship with religion was due to a breakdown in 2015 that lasted on and off for years. Not going to talk about it as I feel I’ve outgrown it. And I don’t want to dig up bad memories.

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For Islam the rationale for is that Judaism and christianity are faiths whose books were sent by God but the message was corrupted, until Islam came which was not so Islam is the final word of God ,and is why the bible shares lots with the torah and the Quran with both. Like in Islam jesus is a prophet but not the son of God, but Mary and Joseph

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