The above quote, from "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, seems pretty harmless, doesn't it? A nice, simple call to accepting people for who they are and entirely in keeping with the positive vibe of The Crooked Table.
Apparently, not everyone thought so.
Upon putting the Schulz quote on my Facebook wall yesterday morning, I received a message from one of my "friends" who clearly took the quote as an affront to the Christian faith and felt that my soul needed salvation... based only on the quote, I suppose.
Of course, me being the experienced communicator of the written word that I am, I crafted a response message. Ultimately, I felt that sending it to this person would be a bit crass so instead... naturally... you can read it below in its entirety, including a pretty thorough description of my thoughts on religion. Enjoy... and feel free to sound off in the feedback section:
I actually do remember you, and while I appreciate your concern for my soul, I do feel that it is harsh, extreme and, frankly, unnecessary.
I fully respect the fact that you are a Christian and it is your right to believe whatever you wish. However, just because you feel so strongly about certain things doesn't mean that you can't remain open-minded to what others believe, even if they directly conflict with your chosen faith.
I was raised Catholic. I was baptized, had my communion and even went to youth group in preparation for my confirmation. But, when all was said and done, my heart wasn't in it.
So a few years ago, I had something of a crisis of faith. I no longer followed the Christian faith, and this led me to feel alienated from the world around me. More specifically, from people like you who think that theirs is the one and only way to see the world.
Ultimately, I realized that I was fully entitled to feel as I do. It wasn't me who had the problem. It was the world that needed to become less obsessed with labels and more accepting of the perspectives of others.
I put that Charles Schultz quote on my wall because I wholeheartedly believe that people should follow their heart and believe what feels right for them. Your message especially shocked me because of just strongly you reacted to a well-intentioned, seemingly innocuous quote from a man who - by all accounts - seemed a very gentle, good-hearted human being.
Holding too tightly to your own personal views on things only fosters hate in people’s hearts, in my opinion. What makes this world so amazing is that everyone has their own unique perspective on things, whether it’s religion, politics, art, etc. A world where anyone who doesn’t agree with your opinion is branded an outcast and shunned from society is a frightening notion to me. Hasn’t our history seen enough persecution, religious or otherwise?
As far as I’m concerned, judging a person based on race, sexual orientation, religion or any other personal matter is just plain wrong. This is not to say that I think you’re a terrible person because I don’t agree with you. I fully understand that – from your perspective – I am in need of being saved or doomed to feel the Lord’s wrath when the end of days does come. And, in some small way, I appreciate that you reached out to me as you did, misguided as your efforts may be.
Let me be clear: just because I don’t consider myself a member of the Christian faith doesn’t mean that I worship Satan, participate in the occult or any such nonsense. I know that I am a good and honest person capable of compassion, generosity and love. In fact, I do prescribe to many Christian ideals, regardless of my dissent with their religious origins. I simply don’t regard religion as the “be all, end all” when it comes to who a person is. It’s simply one aspect of an individual, and as long as that person respects the fact that I have identified myself as an Agnostic, I have no problem respecting their religious views.
Writer Arthur C. Clarke said it best: “The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.” I don’t judge you for being a Christian nor do I think that the fact that you follow the Bible is a reflection of who you are as a person, either for good or bad. Some of the most dangerous people in history have proclaimed that they were doing God’s work, and some of the kindest, most endearing people lacked affiliation to any particular religious sect.
So my advice to you is not to be so quick as to think that anyone who doesn’t follow the Christian faith needs rescuing. Some of us have merely chosen to follow our hearts down a different path, and it’s not a reflection in any way on who we are or how we go about living our lives. In fact, my morality is one of the qualities I most cherish in myself.
I manage to live my life positively and open-heartedly without judgment or hatred towards others without relying on religion as a foundation. I’m not trying to bash people who are fueled and recharged by the spirituality they receive at church. People should all live moral lives and try to be the best people they can, and if having religion in their life is a necessity or prerequisite for that, that’s perfectly fine and entirely their business. But when they feel that their personal religious conviction entitles them to “educate” the rest of us, that’s where I have a problem.
Regardless of my disagreement with your stance on this, I hope that you don’t harbor any ill will towards me. Again, I fully respect your perspective. I just don’t agree with it. And if that upsets you in any way, I truly am sorry. Perhaps you should take this as a chance to become a bit more open-minded that not everyone shares the same viewpoint as you do. If not, that’s fine too. I just thought I would let you know where I’m coming from and fully respond to your rather explicit, presumptuous message.
I wish you and your family nothing but the best in the future."
That's all... Happy writing and living, folks!