I keep my bible facedown underneath my bed. When I take it out to read it I make sure my door is closed. My prayers are silent if they're outside of church. I don't bring up the topic of religion unless someone asks me directly, or unless I'm completely sure they're Christian. (Or if I'm safely hidden behind anonymity in a blog like this.) I used to be confused as to why I treat my experience with Christianity like it's some secret to hide from the world, but I'm starting to come to terms with a fact in my life. I'm ashamed of my religion.
Perhaps more accurately, I'm ashamed of what Christianity has come to be known as in my lifetime. If I were to read the bible on a park bench, how would the people walking by see me? They would begin to assume things. Weirdly, most of those things wouldn't even be assumptions about my religious state. Several would be political assumptions. "She's a bigot." "Gay basher." "Creationist." "She pushes religious ideas on others." "She's pretentious." "Close-minded." Do I not have to curtail my own similar thoughts about people when encountering Christians outside of a church setting? We're fed so many Christianity-laced ideas in popular media that eventually it just seems like that's what Christians are like. Heck, I'm a Christian and should know that not all Christians are like that, yet I still get initially sucked into the assumption.
I don't want people to associate me with all of the things that come with the stereotype of Christianity in America. I don't want people to look at me and assume that I'm hateful. I don't want them to be wary of me because I might try to smother them in religious rhetoric at the drop of a hat. So, I hide. It's way easier to show that I'm a nice person first, and then have them find out that I'm Christian rather than trying to worm my way out of the stereotype beforehand.
The stupid thing is, no one's going to say that Jesus the person was hateful or pretentious. I mean, seriously. It doesn't even matter if you believe that he's Jesus Christ or not. Jesus the person was a pretty wise and giving guy. He was all about peace and loving others, no matter what their background was. Actually, he was against being pretentious and exclusive and hateful. No one argues about that. So... when did Christianity become associated with everything that Christ was against- hate and exclusivity and rigid tradition? And close-mindedness? Didn't he pretty much say to the Jewish people at the time "look, you've got to open your minds to these new ideas because everyone's invited to the not-being-doomed party now, not just you guys?" Didn't he say that the main gist of it was "Love God, love others?" Wasn't that the point? So... I get confused when all of these other issues get brought up in the news and the arguments over blogs and in the pamphlets being handed out on campuses. Where did we get turned around? When did Christians stop representing the bold new idea of accepting everyone and start becoming the exclusive, hateful group, ready to stone the nearest sinner? Not all Christians are like that. Not even the majority (or at least I hope), so why is this the first image that comes to mind when someone says "Christian?"
This is the reason why I hide my religion. I know it's probably not a good thing to be ashamed of your own religion, especially when it means a whole lot to you, but how would I go about showing people that I'm not like their stereotype without them assuming things? It's difficult. :-/
End note: I tried googling images to put in here, but most of them just made me more sad. Instead, here are some pretty pictures I have stored on my computer: