Thirty years has passed since I read “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume and I am still enthralled by Margaret’s dilemma because I have the same problem. The book is about a girl in sixth grade that grew up without a religious affiliation. Her mother is Christian and her father is Jewish, and the novel explores her quest for a single religion. As a daughter of an African American mother who disowned her church but believed in the existence of God, I have been trying to find a religion that fits my needs as a complex and overly analytical Black feminist who has questioned everything, including the Bible her entire life. Religious I am not but I do believe that there is something higher than us flawed humans in the universe. But what or who is this higher being? Is it pure spirit or in the human form? Is it a female or a male? These are the questions I have been asking since I was old enough to talk and I still have not found answers that make any sense.
I come from a long line of Southern Baptists, those fire breathing Christians who believe that everyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ is going straight to hell. My own mother was born and raised in the church but she never had that attitude. I remember a story she told me when I was little about one Sunday when she was a little girl, she was sitting in the pew shaking with fear because the preacher was pontificating loudly about how everyone was going to hell because they were some sinners. I truly believe that particular experience turned her off organized religion because she seldom went to church as an adult but made sure that her children went until they were old enough to make their own decisions.
As a little girl, I went church with my Aunt Blanche when I spent the weekends at her house and it was an adventure. It seemed like every time I went over there, we were going to a new church.
I have a major problem with all three of the main religions in the world for these reasons: patriarchy, sexism and misogyny. It has been hard for me to put my trust into an ideology that keeps people apart instead of joining them together. However, spirituality is important because it keeps you from being a miserable individual who cannot find good in anything. All three of these religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity in my opinion have been used to keep groups of certain individuals in their place (women, Blacks, Native Americans, other religious groups) in the name of God.
I cannot see myself aligning myself with Christianity because some of the biggest hypocrites in the world I know personally are Christians, particularly those Fundamentalist Christians. There is no black or white in their universe; either you believe Jesus Christ died on the cross and was raised from the dead or you are going straight to hell. That concept does not make sense to me. I thought Jesus loved everyone, even sinners.
The Catholic Church? Enough said. Any religion that protects child molesters and tries to control the reproductive freedom of women is not the religion for me. Islam, the pure form of Islam makes sense but man has corrupted the teachings of Mohammed and I do not know if that religion would be right for me. I would probably be stoned to death for my political and life viewpoints. As for Judaism, the idea of sitting shiva for one of my children because they decided to marry outside their faith is cruel.
All I want is the peace of mind that comes with spirituality but I am She Who Cannot Be Controlled By Man or Religious Ideology so my path to religion will not be an easy one.