Although it doesn’t bother me that I haven’t set foot inside a church in years, I’m somehow made uncomfortable by the question “What church do you go to?” when I meet new people. The assumption that I even go to a church assumes that I am Christian, and that assumption is inherently based on me being black.
Why not ask what mosque or synagogue or temple I go to, or start with “Do you go to church?” when asking a question like that? Oh right; because certainly there are no black Jews, and no black person would choose to be Muslim or Buddhist, and you know black people don’t play with “evil spirits” and black magic spells like those Wiccans do.
No, if you’re black, you must be Christian.
Christianity seems to be a generational thing in the black community; the child is raised on it because her mom was, and she was raised on it because her mother was. That’s fine, but why does that way have to be the right way for everybody else too? It’s a choice to stick with the religion you were brought up with; but why are the rest of us, who have chosen a different path to God/enlightenment, or perhaps have decided there is no higher realm to enlighten one’s self to at all, condemned for thinking differently?
The path to spiritual enlightenment is a deeply personal one and should be treated as such. Not only is it imposing to declare that there is only one “correct” way to enlightenment/Heaven/whatever, it is arrogant to think that your way is the only right way. If there were only one correct way to establish a relationship with God, there wouldn’t be a need for different religions. To declare yours as the “only” way or the “right” way leaves no room for others to find their own path to their higher power, whatever name they choose to call it by.
A close friend of mine is very deep in her Christian faith and in a conversation once, she mentioned that she prays for all her friends to find and accept Jesus into their lives. I know she meant well, but all I could think to myself was how arrogant that comment came across.
I remember thinking, what if that’s not what I want for myself? Why not just pray for your friends to find peace in their lives? Why not pray for them to find the path to God/enlightenment that’s most ideal for them? Why is the most ideal situation that they come over to your side? Is it so hard to fathom that there are (black) people who don’t want to follow a Christian lifestyle?
The implication in that kind of statement is that anything other than accepting Jesus means you’re lost or on the wrong path, and as someone who is still searching for the spiritual fit that’s right for me, I find that viewpoint very limiting and off putting.
I’m happy for those who have found contentment in their religion. All I ask for is the same freedom to discover my own spiritual path without being made to feel like I’m “wrong” because it’s not the same as “everyone else’s.”
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Briana Gunter is a twenty-something aspiring writer searching to find her niche in the world of words, and in the world in general. She enjoys anything that allows her to express her creativity, be it music, writing, or crafting, and jumps at any opportunity to learn something new. Email her at Briana@ForHarriet.com and follow her on Twitter @DiamondCut1902 for her daily thoughts and musings.