Casualty of Conscience
When one’s views on religion are so far from the norm, relating to others and discussing the issue can be very awkward and uncomfortable. As someone who identifies as agnostic, I’m well aware of the fact that, in the larger scheme of things, I do not fit in with my species. There are roughly two billion Christians, one and half billion Muslims and one billion Hindus on this planet. So to say that people like me are a minority would be a severe understatement. When you consider the fact that I’m Black American, the situation becomes even more dire. My people are known for their religious devotion; we love us some Jesus! So sometimes I ask myself how I can bear it. The reality is that I am surrounded by people of faith. And I cannot-even among my loved ones-be straight up about my thoughts without fear of ostracism. That is part of the reason my blog is so important to me. When I write I can fully express the things that I cannot speak.
Facing my agnosticism has made me anxious. I worry about my identity. Religious issues aside, I’ve always stuck out in my community and have struggled with accusations of “acting white” or thinking I’m “better” than other Black people. Now deep down I know that such discussions are silly. I was born a Black woman and will die a Black woman; there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know my people, and they expect conformity. It ain’t fair and it ain’t right-but it is what it is.
Then there’s the other issue that worries me: dating and relationships. Post-apostasy every man that has approached me has been Christian or Sunni Muslim. Since I know that religion can be a major issue and I potential deal breaker, I have never led anyone on regarding where I stand spiritually. At the same time I respect the beliefs others and don’t antagonize or play devil’s advocate with them. So long as they don’t force their beliefs on me, I’m good. Long-term, however, I wonder about my prospects.
With that said, changing my beliefs in order to conform to gain the approval of Black folks and/or be with a man is not something that I can do. For so many years I was not honest with myself. For so many years I pushed my questions aside. For so many years I performed rigorous mental gymnastics in order to keep myself within the fold. Looking back I see exactly why I stayed for so long, even when I wasn’t living according to the Scriptures. Not only was I afraid of punishment in the afterlife, I feared it in this one as well. I feared being left out, ostracized and looked upon with distrust and suspicion. But as I stand here now, I am no longer enslaved to those fears. My conscience will never again be made a casualty to win the approval of others.