Stop assuming I’m Christian

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A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a tea partier. About religion. That I started. I don’t know why I did this, I like to think I’m reasonably intelligent, but alas, it seems I’m also a bit masochistic.

It came to a point where I was expressing my sense of empathy for suffering, my sense of morals, and my desire to work toward the greater good. As it turns out, not only do I know more about Christianity than this Christian, but I probably keep to the teachings of Christ better, too. Here’s the kicker, though. I’ve done it totally without the assistance of Jesus, or that fairy tale about him and his dad.

I wish this was an isolated incident. It is ANYTHING but. I work in Prince George’s County Maryland, the most affluent black majority county in the nation. It also happens to have a huge glut of Christianity over most other counties. This would be no problem if the average citizen knew how to keep their religion theirs, and mine as my own. This is not the case.

I think myself to be a fairly benevolent citizen, I stop when I see a motorist with a flat tire or steaming cooling system, I’ll give a ride to someone I recognize walking in the rain, I’ll even keep extra snacks, juices or fruit in my car to hand to the homeless in the tent cities I pass on the way to and from my regular destinations. I don’t expect a reward for this, or even recognition for my deed, just a simple thank you will suffice. But so often, I am met with the response that has me pegged so wrong; “It’s so good to see someone who still keeps good Christian values. God bless you.” Why, I ask, must I be Christian in order to be nice to you? If I wore a hijab, would you take my help? If I don a yarmulke, would you suspect a poison apple? Would water poured into your car by a burka clad woman will turn your car into a terrorist? What if you saw the pentacle strung ’round my neck? Would you expect my offered ride to end in you on my sacrificial pyre?

For too long our puritanical society has gone on, advertising freedom of religion, when in reality, it is naught but a freedom to worship the same God as everyone else, to call all good deeds the deed of Christ, and to shun all others that take a path unlike the norm. I see it every day, when I have to explain each year, that I will need 8 days off for holidays not on the Gregorian calendar, I will eat faerie cakes on Beltain, give presents on Yule, and make mischief on Samhain, and I have been called into question for all of this, a violation of my constitutional right, and only by threat of lawsuit have I kept my job.  This is no way to live, in a Land of the Free, looking over my shoulder, watching my every move. Perhaps it has made me a better employee. I have no choice but to be better. They cannot fire me for my religion, but they will try ever harder to rid the workplace of ‘that creepy pagan girl,’ not because I have done something wrong, but because I don’t pray to a cannibalism promoting zombie who died 2000 years ago, but then he came back, because people are basically evil, but if they ask real nice before they die, it’s ok, they can come to the after party.

Just because I pray to nature, drink copious amounts of honey wine while dancing and singing in the woods, and celebrate different holidays, which the Christians borrowed, by the way, and hope beyond hope to be reincarnated somewhere near my fantastic wife, does not make me a bad person.

I don’t know where it will come from, I don’t know where I’ll be when it gets here, but this world is well overdue for a lesson in tolerance, and a good place to start, is to stop assuming I’m Christian.