I am a Christian.
I spent a majority of my life in private Christian schools and growing up, I never thought telling people that I am a Christian would ever become hard for me to do. I was always surrounded by likeminded people so it never occurred to me that there are people out there who do not agree with my religion. I was never an evangelical but I was proud of my faith and those close to me knew I had a good understanding of it. I loved my religion so much that I once wanted wanted to become a theology professor and teach at Yale.
Needless to say, as I got older, religion became more of an afterthought to me. I never left and I still went to church but I felt disconnected in a way. I no longer dreamed of becoming a theology professor and when someone asked what my religious beliefs were, I struggled to admit that I am a Christian. Going to a public university where rarely anyone has morals or beliefs was very hard as I found out people don't like Christians in today's society.
Religious freedom has always been a topic that has spurred much debate. It is so powerful that it has even started wars and new nations. America was the envy of all countries because no matter what your faith was, you were free to practice it without fear of persecution. How amazing is that? Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus could all live in the same country in peace without fear of the government making laws that prevented them from practicing their beliefs. We are a nation that was founded by Christians who wanted to practice their religion without having the government tell them what they could and could not believe. Every religion was welcome here and now Christianity is a religion that is no longer welcome.
This country has always known the importance of religious freedom and every president since George Washington first took office has been sworn into office by placing their right hand on the Holy Bible. Knowing all of this, it never occurred to me that Christianity would become one of the most persecuted religions in America. Christians are now the brunt of the joke. No one takes our religion seriously and people criticize us because we do take it seriously. Sarah Silverman has made a name for herself for constantly bashing Christians and Christian beliefs. Apparently, if you are a Christian in Sarah Silverman's eyes, you are a person who is full of hate and an uneducated imbecile for being against abortions. The hate doesn't stop there. If you watched the Emmy's this past weekend, you probably caught co-host Michael Che saying, "The only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads." I'm sorry, but I thought we were a sensitive society who did not make stereotypical remarks like this anymore. I guess the only exception to this is criticizing Christians.
We are not crazy people. Yes, there are some extreme Christians in the world, but the actions of a few do not reflect the intentions or beliefs of the entire Christian community. Extremists are in every religion, not just Christianity. Just because you don't agree with our beliefs does not give you the right to belittle our faith. If you don't want to be Christian, no one is forcing you and that is your right. If I want to be a Christian, then that is my right as well.
Being a Christian for the rest of my life will always be an uphill battle, as the Bible says, "For it has been given to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him" -Philippians 1:29. It's not easy and your faith will constantly be tested because we live in a corrupt and broken world. No matter how hard it is to be a Christian in a world where no one wants you to believe in anything, have faith. Remember to pray, be kind, show compassion, love one another and never let the world turn you cold. God is always with you even when it doesn't feel like it.