Alternative Religions In The Bible Belt

If you stopped me on the street and asked me what religion I am, I would probably tell you Unitarian Universalist. I'm not Christian, really. That is, I don't believe that Jesus Christ was THE lord and savior. I do not worship him as God. To me, Jesus was a pretty awesome prophet and I do strive to follow his teachings. But I don't pray to him. I don't ask him for comfort in times of need. I believe that God, whatever God may be (man, woman, both, neither) created Themself to be adaptable and able to change into whatever form or thought or being would be easiest for humans to perceive them.

For some people, that makes God a man with a big white beard sittin' on a throne in Heaven.

For others that makes God a woman. 


And others see God as an elephant or a squid thing or even pasta. 
Some don't claim to see God at all, and that's okay, too. To me, God is whatever brings you comfort in your darkest hour. God is the being that you cry out for when you see that car about to side-swipe you. God is the one that holds your hand during the surgery. That, to me, is God. It is holiness at it's finest point. Your personal relationship with God, however you perceive God, is yours. No one can tell you it's wrong; that you're wrong for believing the way you do. No one has that right. No one can tell you if you're going to one place or another after you die. Whatever brings you comfort is what you should hold on to.
That big red area is the bible belt. And I live smack in the middle of it.

I live in the Bible Belt of America. That means you can't go two blocks without seeing a church of some sort. I live within walking distance of a Southern Baptist church (they kind of scare me), a Seventh Day Advantist church (yes, like Waco), A Spanish-American church (I think it's Baptist?), a Methodist church, and another Baptist church of some sort. That's within walking distance, folks. That means I could get to any of those churches within 15 minutes of walking out my front door. I have to drive 45 minutes to get to the Unitarian Church I sometimes attend (not as much as I would like). There isn't an open coven for miles. The nearest mosque is rather far, too. There's a Buddhist shrine about 30 minutes from me, but people tend to treat it more like a museum. If the monks are okay with that, then I am, too. It's their holy place, not mine.

So what is my point? My point is that for a white, middle class, middle aged woman I'm actually in a minority where I live. If I were to tell some one I just met at the grocery store that I celebrate Beltane and the Winter Solstice they would try to convert me and invite me to their church to "save my soul". Save my soul from what, I don't really know. But, if I were to meet some one on the street and they told me they were Christian and I proceeded to accost them with facts about how Christianity took over the old religions, and that Christians believe a myth, a lie, and worship a man over a God, I'd be rushed by a damn mob! No, I don't think that all Christians behave this way. In fact, I know they don't. Some of my best friends and family members are devout Christians and they have never, not once, insulted or belittled me for my beliefs. And I have not ever argued with them over their choice to worship Christ as their savior.

People who say this country was founded in Christianity are either ignorant or are just plain ignoring history. Have they not read the declaration of independence or the constitution? Have they not noticed the whole separation of church and state thing? Our founding fathers saw the shit storm that happened in Europe when countries began to bow to Rome and the church. They realized that for a truly free, democratic society to flourish, religion in any form CANNOT exist in politics. It can't. It just can't. If it did, we would have to pick one religion. So, let's say for argument sake, that we as a country have decided to be Christian. We'll develop all our laws around Christian fundamentals. So, which branch of Christianity shall we adhere to? Shall we all be Southern Baptists and abstain from drink and amorous dancing? Or maybe we'll all be Pentecostals and insist women not work and wear skirts. Or, we could all be Mormons! See the problem, here? The United States of America was not founded on any religion but on the lack of religion. It was founded on freedom. Freedom to speak and write your mind without being jailed for it (or worse, tortured and executed). Freedom to defend yourself from persecution and illegal or unjust searches. Freedom to believe whatever you want to believe and not be arrested as a heretic. Freedom to own land: not rent land, OWN land. That is the basic foundation of America, folks: the right and ability to own land and not have to answer to a lord for your property. These are all the foundation for the constitution and not religion.

Am I Pagan? I dunno. I mean, I don't really worship multiple gods. I worship A god that I believe is known by many names and many faces. I worship in my own way, I talk to God in my own way. I believe no one has the right to tell me I'm wrong based on my faith. I believe that I am loved by God, regardless of mistakes I make. I believe I don't have the right to judge another person for their beliefs; that that role is reserved for God and not me. I believe in respecting another person's choices in faith. And I expect the same respect in return.