Monday, 28 September 2015

What Book are You Reading Kim Davis?

Religion has been a fairly hot topic these past few weeks. It has been impossible to turn on the television, go on social media, or open a newspaper and not be faced with an image of the Pope or the tears of Kim Davis.

I rarely speak about religion, though I often receive questions about my faith. A blog with a title like mine draws people from both ends of the religious spectrum - devout believers and atheists alike.

I think faith is beautiful, but it is complex. And what faith and religion means to one person, does not always translate to another. It is deeply personal, so it is a topic that I tend to shy away from. 

I was raised in a Baptist home. We went to church most Sundays. I spent my summers at a Baptist Bible Camp. I then went on to minor in Religion at University - perhaps in part because I was looking for something myself during that time. And my idea of faith and religion evolved. 

I don’t know if you would call me religious in the traditional sense now. Spiritual, is perhaps a better term. What I practice now probably resembles something closer to Buddhism than Baptism. But I still consider myself a person of a faith.
The recent story involving Kim Davis a Kentucky Court Clerk who refused to issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples  has left me pondering this typically taboo subject. I realize this subject is controversial and many people will not agree but I have never hidden the fact that I am staunch feminist, a believer in equality, and over-all left-leaning gal. And this is an issue of discrimination. Discrimination is not something I will tolerate.

Taking religion out of the equation this simply comes down to the fact that no one should be discriminated against whether for race, gender, or sexual-orientation. But today we will discuss this from a religious stand point, since this why these actions were taken.
I am not sure what book the Kim Davis's of the world are reading, but the message I take away from Scripture is that of love, light, positivity, and beauty. I will be using the Bible as an example for this particular post, as it is a the scripture I am most familiar with, and it is the book that Kim feels she is defending. 

There are 31 102 verses in the Bible. There is one - yes, just one passage - in the bible that could be interpreted as anti-gay. Maybe, up to 6 depending on how you chose to read specific passages. In other words, the issue of homosexuality barely makes an appearance in the teachings that faith is meant to be built upon.

And this is where the issues of faith and religion start to blur. For me, Faith is the personal belief that people hold about a higher power. Religion is the institutionalization of that faith through rules and daily practice. And Religion has long had very strong opinions about homosexuality, the LGBT community, and the role of women within society full-stop. 

This is where it starts to become dangerous for me. Faith is powerful. But how that power is used is ultimately decided by us. There is no doubt that this power can be used for wonderful things, and often is. Faith and our desire to live life as our best selves has long led to acts of kindness, generosity. and has been a foundational component in civil and human rights efforts made around the world. Pope Francis' recent address in Congress on the Refugee Crisis stands in stark contrast to that that of the actions of Kim Davis. 

But all too often, humanity clings to the issues and statements created within a very specific historical context and chooses to use that power to reinforce outdated societal norms. The world has changed drastically over the last 2000+ years. And as we grow and evolve as a society, so too should our faith. It is up to us to advance our faith within our changing social landscape.

Scripture provides a basic template to create a better world. Our faith in something greater instills hope for a better tomorrow and could become catalyst to create positive change. It asks us to search deep within ourselves and choose to greet the world with kindness, acceptance, gratitude, and grace.

But looking around at the world as it is today, I am not sure we are doing that.

Rather than allowing our faith to evolve, we continue to base our religious practices on the societal conditions of 1393 BCE. We continue to perpetuate an idea that some people are worthy, and other people are not. Instead of creating a place where we can meet each other, removing all other boundaries, and see the power of humanity at it purest form.

There are 538 passages about Love in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Kindness is mentioned 78 times. Good is used in 859 verses and Light is spoken of 414 times. Doesn't this sound like a better representation of the faith we could be living? Doesn't this sound like a better use of that same power? 

A life filled with more compassion and kindness is something we can all get behind. Whether you identify as religious or not - a world that is driven by love (heterosexual or homosexual) should be the kind of world we all strive for.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten