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Two wedding rings with rainbow designsLooking through social media comments there are so many people preaching the word of god, saying that those who don’t believe in him are sinners and will go to hell. On the other end, there are atheists who bash believers for having a religion and following the Bible. Why can’t we all just get along?

On Facebook, whenever homosexuals, gay marriage, or any LGBTQI topic arises, without fail I see the religious and nonreligious come out to attack each other. The religious side is against homosexuality and gay marriage, saying gays should be stoned to death, will burn in hell forever, are making the devil work overtime, that god will step on them like a bug, that gays promote sexual deviancy and pedophilia, that allowing gays equal treatment will lead pedophiles to demanding the right to sexually abuse children, that it’s a perverse lifestyle, that gays deserve no respect, are scum, that it is sick, an abomination, immoral, unnatural, and so on.

The nonreligious side has people saying that those who are religious are stupid, hateful, don’t care about priests having sex with children, are bigots, primitive, pathetic, judgmental, use god as an excuse, are hypocrites, homophobic and challenge them by asking if they’ve walked on water or are OK with slavery, animal sacrifice and stoning like in the Bible. There are some rational people from both sides that present their opinions, but not many.

We all genuinely need to learn to be accepting of one another. Growing up Catholic, I know it’s taught that people are to be accepting of everybody, no matter their differences. What bothers me are those who pick and choose who and what they believe should and shouldn’t be accepted. For example, with Christians, if god wants you to love everyone, then don’t go around telling others that homosexuality is a sin and they shouldn’t be allowed to marry. They don’t believe in what you do, so let them do what they want. It has no effect on you. Don’t pick and choose to be against gay marriage, but be for divorce. To be against sex before marriage, yet not practice what you preach. To use birth control when it is against your religion to be used.

For atheists, it bothers me when they cannot respect other’s beliefs. I understand not accepting extremist points of view, but we should be able to accept the basic principles of religion in that they teach people to love one another and treat others as you would like to be treated.

Statements like those are ones everyone should live by, no matter their religion or lack thereof.

There’s no need to try and convince religious people that religion is senseless and should not be followed, just as there’s no need to convince non believers that they should believe in religion.

Just because atheists don’t believe in a god doesn’t mean we don’t have morals. There’s no correlation between religion and morality. Yes religions generally teach good morals, but they’re not something that’s lacking in those who aren’t religious. There are plenty of atheists with better morals than someone who’s part of a religion, and at the same time there are plenty of religious people with better morals than an atheist. It does not matter if you’re raised with or without religion, you’re always capable of having good morals.

There are those who consider themselves neither religious nor atheist. They may see themselves as just spiritual, or not want to attach a label to anything. No side, religious or not, should see anything wrong with this. As long as a person has a good head on their shoulders, it shouldn’t matter what they do or do not believe in.

When I was in Catholic high school many years ago, religion was a mandatory course each year. In grade 9 my teacher was very religious but, by grade 10, my then teacher was telling us that what it says in the Bible is not meant to be interpreted literally. The stories are to teach us lessons, such as Jesus turning some bread and a couple of fish into thousands of them. What this really meant was that through his teachings he was able to spread knowledge to many people, and the food was actually knowledge. In grade 11, we were taught about world religions, seeing the similarities as well as differences in so many of them. In grade 12 it was more of a philosophy course disguised as a religion class. We were taught to believe whatever we wanted, and if you couldn’t agree with everything that your religion wants you to follow, then you should consider reevaluating whether or not it’s still something you should practice.

This was when I finally decided, after going back and forth for years, that I no longer wanted to be a part of a religion that I not only didn’t believe in anymore, but also couldn’t support some of their beliefs and practices. I’m in favour of gay marriage. I think people should use birth control and I feel that people should have the choice of whether or not to keep a baby (though I believe there are strict guidelines that should be followed in the decision-making and actual process). That was my decision and this is my opinion. I won’t push that on anyone else.

No matter if you agree with my thoughts or not, I hope you do agree that everyone should be accepting of each other, no matter their beliefs. We should all try to get along and stop bashing each other online. It only puts a negative light on both sides and brings each other down. It’s time to accept people for who they are, not change them to who you want them to be.

I think this is especially important to be acknowledged considering the recent legality of gay marriage in all 50 states of the U.S. Let people love who they want to love, no matter your beliefs. Love gives rise to happiness and peace; I see no problem in that.

by Michelle Balge

image: Gay Wedding Rainbow Rings via Shutterstock

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