An Eye-Opening Experience Witnessing Religious Intolerance
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An Eye-Opening Experience Witnessing Religious Intolerance

Everyone deserves respect; why is it so hard to hear someone out?

An Eye-Opening Experience Witnessing Religious Intolerance
Kari Patterson

Have you ever been in a moment of beautiful chaos? When everything around you is a fast blur and yet you feel so free. You’re close and compact in a sea of moving bodies, but instead of feeling claustrophobic you feel like you’re floating on air. It’s that most wonderful feeling where you and thousands of others become one in a single moment.

This was the bliss I was in November 9, 2013 at Metalfest. It was early in the day when I arrived with my entourage of four young men. Upon arrival I was nervous being the only girl in the group, but as soon as that crowd went into motion, I was separated from my friends without a care. How could I be worried about where the boys had gone when my favorite song was being played live before my very eyes. It wasn’t until For Today arrived on stage that things took a turn for the worse. The beauty was gone. It was chaos. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but people were upset by their words. Even when the night had ended, ill-will was still being spoken about For Today, despite the fact that their set was much earlier in the day. I didn’t understand it; I couldn’t understand it.

For Today is a known religious metalcore band. They advertise themselves as a religious band, which is where most of my confusion stemmed from. Two songs into the set, the lead vocalist, Mattie Montgomery, took the microphone in his hand and turned to the crowd. He spoke of beautiful things; how the Lord has guided him and his band. He didn’t pray nor ask anyone else to pray, but he spoke of his own fondness for his religion and he spoke in favor of letting the light guide you. “God Bless,” he said. Then came the boos. At first I was oblivious to the crowd’s booing and rude gestures at the singer. The band then went on with their upbeat hardcore playing, but the mood was dead.

Anyone who knows the metal and metalcore scene knows that a great deal of the people, when banded together, become very outspoken. When you are able to come together with those you have a lot in common with, it’s more difficult to outwardly dissent. This put me in quite an awkward position at the time, for I truly loved the music they were playing. Whether they were religious or not meant nothing to me, even though I myself am religious. It was just a nice touch, in my head. Something respectable because it was such an anomaly in this community. To everyone else, the music didn’t seem to matter anymore. It didn’t matter how they sounded, because they already put up a wall in-between the crowd and themselves by simply speaking of something that was of great importance to them.

“He had no right to do that,” someone said. “That was not the time nor place.” It still bewilders me that anyone could think this way. Why is it that so many people are offended by another’s religion? I understand the feeling of being put down for speaking personal beliefs aloud. It’s a feeling that doesn’t really leave you, but rather feeds into your fears. It makes you afraid to speak the words you hold in your heart, afraid to open your mouth around people you don’t know and even those you do. It’s a fear of the reaction that occurred that very night, and it was that night I had kept my mouth shut with so many words trying to fight their way out.

As humans, we’re supposed to carry with us a sense of humanity. If the line is as thin as it was shown to be that night, where does respect and benevolence begin and end? Diving further into thought, I began to wonder: do I refuse to see their side, or do they refuse to see mine? For Today spoke what they held in their heart, willing to share that warmth with other people in the crowd. I found that warmth, but it seems it skidded right past everyone else there. “He had no right,” they repeated; I stand to wonder whether they feel they have a right to boo and degrade this band for their actions.

Perhaps I was destined to take the warmth and try to will those around me to realize that they don’t have to believe and follow his words to respect them. I thought respect was supposed to be a two-way street. If a band is being paid to perform, why would anyone think to believe that their speaking hadn’t been part of the performance? Who are we to decide what is truly applicable in the given setting.

This was my first-hand experience in such a situation, and it was truly eye-opening. Even looking back on it now, years later, it still holds so much power in my heart. It makes me wonder if the reaction would’ve been different if the vocalist had been Muslim or Buddhist. If he had spoke in favor of anything else, how would the crowd have reacted? Perhaps I’m wrong, but I feel as if the reaction would’ve been much different.

It truly shows how different communities hold different stigmas to varying beliefs. Certain Christians are at just as much fault as this non-Christian community. It’s dog-eat-dog out there in the real world. I only wish that we can all learn to respect one another and keep a more open mind. Everyone deserves respect. Everyone deserves to be heard. Even if your thoughts and beliefs directly oppose mine, I will work to give you just as much respect as I would the next person.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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