If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "Well, I was raised Catholic, so I'm an atheist now," I could probably pay off my student loans. If I had a dollar for every time I said it I wouldn't be eating PB&J; for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I was raised Catholic and like many other millenial Catholics, once I left for college I also left my religion. Catholicism became so synonymous to me with hatred, bigotry, and homophobia that I couldn't take it anymore. The love I held in my heart for people of all types of lifestyles was larger than my love for God.
As the world quickly changes, the Christian church has been slow to change with it. We use the bible to justify our politics. We use the scripture to judge others. We falsely believe that having a relationship with God makes us an expert on how others should look, feel, and act.
I have always had a relationship with God but not always with the Church. But the problem wasn't the Church, but the people that were within it. Never once during mass did I ever hear a homily or scripture about judging people for who they love or the color of their skin. We have always been taught the opposite.
I began to avoid God because I wanted to avoid my parents and their friends who spouted racist and homophobic thoughts out of ignorance. It was easier for me to remove myself than to try to argue with them about judging others. I stopped going to church and discussing my feelings with them because I would only be told I was wrong.
I couldn't continue calling myself a Catholic because I had begun to believe that being Catholic meant that we had to reject people who weren't like us. AKA white, straight people.
The farther away I moved from my hometown the closer I got with God and being Catholic. I was able to find different resources and hear different voices about what it means to be Christian. I learned that above all else, God tells us to love and respect our neighbors. We are born perfect because God created humanity in his own image.
I had always felt this in my heart but I was alienated by ignorance and politics that truly weren't in line with God's word.
I had to mend my relationship with Him before I could try to mend my relationships with everyone else. I still struggle with dealing with conflicts caused by differences in my beliefs with other Catholics. I hope by reading this, these people will understand why it was easier for me to shut down rather than explaining how I felt.
Many Millenials have left the church for the same reasons I did, but our passion to make our world a better place couldn't be more in line with God's word. Jesus broke bread with lepers and sex workers, so why can't us Catholics learn to love people who live differently than us?