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June 17, 2007

I went to Mass this morning. Often when I’m feeling overwhelmed with non-school things I get myself up early enough on a Sunday to go because it’s comforting. It reminds me of going to church as a child. The sameness of it is comforting when nothing else in my life seems stable. The only time I haven’t felt comforted by going to church was for a few months after coming out. I felt unwelcome, which was very dumb of me. In my coming out group there was a guy who was Catholic, and after the session on religion where we talked about Catholics and queers a lot he and I went to Palm Sunday Mass together with his boyfriend, and I felt right in going to church again.

Catholics aren’t evil people, contrary to what you might hear. Mass does not consist of blistering sermons on the evils of the world, nor are there snickering focus groups of people trying to get legislation passed to take away the rights of people who are different from them. There is no human sacrifice, and I’ve never seen someone told that they were unwelcome.
Going to church is taking time to come together with your community in awareness that you are not the most important thing in the world. There is a time in each Mass to pray for community members, civil and religious leaders, the sick, and those who have recently passed away. The sermon usually consists of something warm and fuzzy: today’s topic was forgiveness. We admit that we are sinners (translation: nobody’s perfect), and then it what is my favorite part we turn to the people around us, strangers as well as friends and family, and wish them peace. Today there was a final blessing of all the fathers there because it’s Father’s Day.

Religious people aren’t any more evil than non religious people. I’ve been to Mass at three different churches, and attended services at a few Protestant churches with Sara. At none of them was there an angry man shouting about the evils of homosexuality or sex before marriage. Yes, I know that this happens. In my experience, though, the churches at which this happens are in the minority. The majority of the religious people I’ve ever met have been wonderful caring people, people who honestly believe in the love of God and the virtues of helping others. Some may be misguided, but not evil. It seems wrong to me to hate someone because they simply don’t know better. Why not instead try to show them how you believe they are wrong?

I have no problem with faith; in fact I find it a beautiful thing. Faith encourages people to be bigger than themselves, to look beyond their own needs to the needs of others. There are more clergymen of all stripes preaching forgiveness and tolerance than there are those who preach hatred. I guess that is once again and example of a silent majority. We don’t hear about them because they’re not headline material. They’re out there quietly living their lives, doing charity work, and doing their best to be good, and unfortunately they get lumped in with crazy anti-abortion advocates and Jerry Falwell. I wish there was more awareness of this.

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