My immediate family is heavily involved in the Salvation Army. I remember going to the Salvation Army Pancake Feed every year and my grandfather going out to ring the bell in front of grocery stores. Often my family would hold "church" in our very own living room. I remember my father saying "it doesn't matter the building you are in, but that your belief is pure."
My grandmother, bless her heart, would say things like "clean hands and a pure heart will get you to Heaven."
The household I lived in as a child was very restrictive. Music and TV were heavily censored. I was only able to listen to Christian and Christmas music and never was able to celebrate Halloween. I did not get hooked on the "Harry Potter" or "Twilight" phases like every other child my age because I was not able to watch either series- they both had "too much" witchcraft.
I remember being young and believing in every little thing that my parents told me. My parents did not tell me things like the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause were real. Instead, they let me watch the local news and talked to my siblings and me about what was going on in the world. I remember getting really interested in news-worthy issues right after 9/11. There was a report on the local news when I was seven or eight, maybe, talking about abortions. I asked my father what that word meant and like everything else, he was honest with me.
"Sometimes people want to kill their babies and they go into the mommy, while the baby is still in her tummy and suck the baby out like a vacuum."
He was not lying, that is what an abortion is. I remember going to school the next day and talking about the presidents and abortions to my fellow second graders. I remember thinking, "How could anyone want to kill their baby?"
By the time I entered high school, my parents had gone through a very serious and rough divorce and I started questioning my beliefs. Like America, my first high school was very diverse and filled with many different kinds of people. I befriended many people who had different faiths and upbringings other than of my familiar Christian beliefs. I remember asking my father what happens to people who do not believe in our version of God or people who "sin"? He told me something very profound, something that I choose to believe in today. "God judges you on what you know to be true and how well you treat yourself and others." The following year I transferred from a public high school to a private Catholic school.
I grew up Christian, not Catholic, so talk about your massive culture shock.
I felt like such an outcast there. It was a very small school and I am biracial, so I stood out. The kids would say racist things to me and I did not agree with the Catholicism. I questioned my theology teacher regularly. I got told time and time again that I had an attitude problem because I would not participate in the ritual aspects of Catholicism. Then I had a grand realization, Catholics and Christians both believe in a God but do things very very differently. I did not believe in what I was learning at the Catholic school, but I still believed I was going to Heaven. Then it hit me. What about Muslims? What about Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism? There are so many different religions, so many different interpretations and meanings of the same religion, that there is no way one ultimate answer.
When I got to college I was able to live, branch out, and explore so many different ideas and religions. I kept Christianity in my mind always, but I enjoyed so many ideas brought on by Buddhism and I was able to branch out my knowledge in science. Now twenty-four, I cherish the time my father said, "God judges you on what you know to be true and how you treat yourself and others." I choose to interpret that as, "Life judges you on what you know to be true and how you treat yourself and others." I substituted "God" for "life" because my "God" may not be your "God."
Everyone has different backgrounds, hardships, and circumstances but that doesn't mean we have to start showing less compassion towards someone because of this. We have to work together, we must coexist, and we must support and understand one another. That calls for a true separation of church and state. These fast pace abortion bans, like the one Alabama just passed, are using the idea that life starts at conception. That is fine if you believe that, but that is not everyone's beliefs. Passing laws under ones ultimate beliefs is discrediting and disassociating so many people and so many other faiths and practices.
I am pro-choice but not because I believe that abortion is always the right decision but because I am not you, or her, or that family. I am pro-choice because I acknowledge other faiths. I understand certain tragic situations (rape, molestation, and incest) and I believe everyone women and child should get to live their life the way they believe is true for them.