Woah! Did that title freak you out a little? I know, it’s kind of a daunting subject for some. I promise, though, that you won’t (hopefully) regret reading this post. I also promise I won’t try to preach to you, convert you, or in any way disrespect your religious beliefs.
Let me start off with a short story. I was checking out at a VERY well-known grocery store on Mother’s Day when I had a brief and polite conversation with the cashier. Now, normally these conversations go as follows:
Cashier: Hi, how are you?
Me: I’m doing well; how are you?
Cashier: I’m doing good. Did you find everything alright?
Me: I did, thank you.
Occasionally there will be some chat about the weather, a special event occurring that day or the day before/after, I might compliment something they’re wearing, etc. You get the gist; it’s generally nice small talk followed by, “Have a great day/night/weekend!” on their part and a, “You, too! Thank you!” on mine and then I leave.
This trip didn’t end that way. The cashier, after mentioning Mother’s Day and asking about my plans, mentioned that there are some people who don’t celebrate Mother’s Day. She then proceeded to “inform” me that Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) don’t celebrate it and they don’t celebrate anything. She told me that they’re crazy and that her sister is a JW. She told me that her sisters husband “converted” her and that she didn’t understand why because ” [they] grew up Christian. Went to church every Sunday. [Her sister] knows she’s a Christian.” I politely informed her that JW’s do, in fact, celebrate things, but they don’t wait until Mother’s Day to celebrate their mothers. I also told her that one of my best friends is a JW, and that yes, crazy is a word I would use to describe her, but that’s because of her personality, not because of her religious beliefs. I told her that JW’s are, in fact, Christian, and that some people find their truth at different stages in life, and it sounded like her sister had found hers. She didn’t say anything to that, handed me my receipt, and didn’t respond when I thanked her and wished her a good day.
I am, personally, a Unitarian Universalist, but my truth and knowledge is ever-expanding. I find joy and intrigue in learning about the beliefs of others, and find that it is helping shape my own belief system. My bff, Cassie, who is the JW, has always been willing to inform and teach me what she believes without trying convert me. She understands and respects that I have my own truth and that mine are just as valid as anyone else’s.
When Aerial and I were on our Dallas adventure, we were compelled to stop at a table that was set up by a Muslim man passing out pamphlets and copies of the Quran (the Islamic holy book) in both English and Spanish in an effort to teach people about Islam and dispel rumors or myths about the religion and its people. We talked to the man and took a bottle of water he offered us and each took pamphlets and our own personal copy of the Quran. Aerial is a Seventh Day Adventist and neither of us are interested in converting to Islam, but felt so thankful that someone was willing to take the time out of their own day to talk to others about their beliefs. With everything going on in this world, and all the anti-Muslim propaganda spread by certain political candidates, it takes a huge amount of bravery to do what he was doing.
I have no problem hearing your views, and learning your truths. My husband and I don’t even go to the same church, but I have told him that if he feels the way about his church that I do about mine, I fully support his journey. I don’t, however, support people who bash or talk poorly about anyone for their own belief, especially if it’s just because they didn’t take an opportunity to learn more.
I am a Unitarian Universalist (UU), because I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and I try to live that out. I do good because I want to make the world a better place. I believe in transforming spirit, nourishing lives, and fighting for justice for all. I believe that we are all one in the interconnected web of all existence. I believe in love.
For more information on Unitarian Universalism visit http://www.uua.org/.
For more information on Jehovah’s Witnesses visit https://www.jw.org/en/.