I grew up without any religious affiliation in a very religious town and now attend a southern college that also has a large religious presence. Many of my best friends are extremely religious and while I love them, I wish that they would consider the five following points.
- Lack of religious affiliation does not mean lack of morality. I was talking to my very religious friend recently about different places we would like to live. When I suggested France, she cringed and said that she could never live there because, as a country, France seemed to be very “immoral,” which I had never heard said before. When I asked where she heard that, she said, “Oh I don’t know, I have just heard that they have the highest percentage of non-religious people in all of Europe.” Ouch. The two are not one in the same.
- Do not come to me with your crisis of faith. I have no idea how to comfort you. I understand that college presents a lot of temptation in ways that lead many people to feel spiritually challenged and nervous about how faithful they are being to their religion. It doesn’t matter how drunk you are, it’s still annoying for someone that knows and cares very little about religion to be around a friend panicking about how guilty she or he feels because God is watching. I just don’t even know where to start when it comes to comforting you.
- People are fine with not being religious, and it is pretty frustrating when people feel bad for you, or act as though you are missing out on the meaning of life as a result of not being religious. For many people, religion is something that rarely even crosses their minds, and their fulfillment can be found in many different areas of life.
- Try to act less bewildered by non-religious people. Another story: I was stargazing this past summer with a different very religious friend of mine when she said, “It’s looking at things like these gorgeous stars that make me amazed by the fact you don’t believe in God.” Holy freaking awkward silence. I promise I am just as bewildered by some of your beliefs as you are by my lack thereof, I just don’t mention it.
- Your religion is interesting to me, and many spiritual texts contain awesome stories that are amusing and teach values that are undeniably great guides to live by. When I ask about a certain tradition or custom, my friends often say something along the lines of “Oh it’s a religious thing.” Great, yeah, I got that, but I genuinely am interested in the stories and reasoning behind these actions, and being written off is annoying and exclusive. I respect your beliefs and won’t find what you say silly.