A Feminist Kind of Faith

I’m not one to talk much about faith. As a teacher, I feel it is my responsibility to ensure that church and state remain separate in my classroom. I know not all teachers feel that way, and I suppose that is their right, but I’d much rather discuss everything critically through a lens of tolerance and acceptance. I think, especially when terrible, religiously motivated tragedies occur in our world, we as educators need to be concerned with making sure students understand that one of the founding principles of our nation was the freedom of religion and, as such, we should uphold those values and practice religious tolerance when necessary.

I suppose this is easy for me to say, though, because I’m not necessarily a religious person. For the most part, I was raised Catholic, but I no longer practice and I was never confirmed. Our wedding ceremony was outside at the golf course where we held our reception and performed by my uncle, which says a lot, I think, because most weddings I’ve been to have had some religious overtones at least, and ours did not.

People have asked me frequently about my faith, and, depending on the audience, I usually give some vague response followed by a joke and a change of subject. My husband, Tim, is the same way. We talk about faith privately, but it isn’t something we’re anxious to get into in public.

One time when we were at lunch, one of my friends was trying to engage me in a discussion about faith and, after my typically vague response, she blurted out, “Do you even believe in anything? You really should believe in something, you know. It’s good for the soul.” Then, the waiter came and dropped off the check and our discussion turned to splitting the bill. I was saved by the bill.

I’ve thought about that moment often, though, and, were I to answer that friend now, I would say: Yes, I do believe in something. I believe in a lot of things, actually, and I believe them to the core of my very being. I believe in equality for everyone regardless of gender, race, sexuality, ability, and any other reason people are discriminated against. I believe in the healing power of laughter, and that a genuine smile can go a long way. I believe people are generally good if you give them the chance to be. I believe in my students, and I believe in the educational system that was founded on the belief that everyone in our country has the right to a good education. I believe my family will catch me, no matter how far I fall. I believe in people. I believe in the transformative power of love. I believe in myself.

In many ways, feminism has lead me to this faith because it has allowed me to see the sheer volume of people working for a better world in their own ways and has inspired me to work harder in mine. My faith is a different kind of faith, but that doesn’t make it any less important or powerful, and it certainly is just as good for the soul.

This post was written as a submission to the fourth edition of the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival. For more information, click here.

Photo Credit: Balaji.B

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