I was not raised religious. In fact, I was exempted from religious classes for asking too many “provocative” questions such as “If God created the universe, then who/what created God?”. However, I have always been fascinated by the impact of religion on individuals, communities and nations.
From a young age, I denounced religion as senseless.
I watched people practising religion, mostly Christianity in my home country Brazil, but the contradiction between what they said and what they did puzzled me.
I heard of people who went to church weekly and talked about the importance of family, cheating on their partners. I saw families who prayed daily, failing to extend a helping hand to those who live in poverty in their communities. I saw those who worshipped a God that represented infinite love, compassion and forgiveness, ostracising minority communities that didn’t look, worshipped or love like themselves.
The older I grew, the more plentiful my library of the examples of horrible crimes against basic human rights in the name of religion got. The Catholic Church’s systemic abuse of children and women around the world. The Muslim’s oppression of women in some countries. Female Genital Mutilation practised by Muslim, Christian and Jewish groups across the African and Middle Eastern countries. The list goes on.
How can anyone who takes messages from prophets that have loved the poor, the minorities and the sinners, judge their fellow creations?
Would God approve of it?
Is this what Jesus would do?
I am not religious but the irony of these judgements is not lost on me.
In 2015, I hugged many of my LGBTQ friends in my apartment in Dublin 8 and bit my nails while anxiously awaiting the results of the referendum that would allow them to legally marry their partners and extend them the same rights as heterosexual couples. In 2018, I stood in Dublin Castle and celebrated with thousands of other women, the repeal of the 8th amendment in Ireland. This vote inserted a subsection to the constitution, recognising the equal right to life of a pregnant woman and the unborn. In summary, it made access to abortion legal for women in Ireland.
Both those wins felt like monumental steps toward progress in a Catholic Ireland.
As a grown woman I can see the leaves from the trees. I know faith and religion are two very different things. I have met people of all faiths or no faith who practice the most basic principle of all religions: love and respect.
Nothing about the rights of LGBTQ people and women conflicts with faith. In fact, recognising those rights puts us all in the same standing. Creatures who deserve love and respect.
Hillary Clinton famously said ‘But we must recognise that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected. Tragically, women are most often the ones whose human rights are violated.’
I don’t use the word hate often, but if there are things in the world I hate, it’s unfairness and injustice. The abuse of power to oppress people makes my blood boil.
The overturn of Roe vs. Wade is a painful reminder that the fight for women’s rights is not over until the structures that oppress women are dismantled. Whether they are political, economic, social or religious.
Whether you believe in a day of judgement, hell, or karma. If you are part of a system that oppresses others, you won’t fare well.
A call out to those who are silent in the face of such brutal violence against women: We need you. We need your voice. We need your allyship. Help us move this conversation forward.
Meanwhile, for those who find themselves in a desperate situation, having to choose between two impossibly hard choices at a time when your basic rights have become politicised, know that there are people out there who see you, understand you and support you.