Since I was a young boy, I have always questioned my faith. I was reared Roman Catholic, playing the organ and singing in the choir, and devoutly serving as an altar boy. I always loved my Catholicism; however, I also wondered what else was out there. I innately knew there were many doors available, and that others chose some of the myriad doors. This awareness was enhanced by my father who was a former Catholic and thereafter an agnostic. My challenge is that I am finding it increasingly difficult to hear people speak of their traditions as exclusively correct, not just for them, but for others as well.
In the 1960s, my mother taught me that other religions were not the right ones for us. How she knew that, I never fully understood until I was older and realized that this was what the church taught us to believe. Even as I became an adult and realized that there was no room for me as I was, in my fullness as a whole human being, I never stopped loving the church; I just could not go back. Today, we are told that as gay people, we can participate in the church, but that we must confess our sins and promise to abstain from the activities with those we love specified by the church. Certainly, that is not consistent with what I know of God, so I had to move forward in my search.
Christianity is the predominate overarching faith in the United States. That is not true in other regions such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Near East. They believe in other traditions that, to them, are just as valid as Christianity is to the majority of Americans. In fact, there are more people worldwide who believe in their various Eastern and folk religions than believe in Judaism, the founding tradition of the Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and Islam, the largest groups of faith on the planet . Some researchers indicate that Islam has overtaken Catholicism as the number one specific religion in the world .
I have meandered my way through Eastern religions, New Age philosophies, ancient religions, native traditions, and other belief systems. I have read, discussed, meditated, and prayed my way to this moment. All I know for certain is that there is a Greater Spirit, one that has many, many names. This spirit connects us all in love and unity. I believe that sin and hell do not exist. I believe that we live in the constant light of God. I believe our fears cause us to choose to turn our backs on the light; to ignore that radiance eternally emanating through the door before, during, and after this human existence. This is why we sometimes perceive evil and live in the shadows. I believe that all paths lead to God, because God has given us every opportunity to remember who we truly are in unity with the Universe. We learn by example and we learn by contrast. I believe we have many teachers and that all our teachers are sent from God, even the ones that scare us the most. Perhaps, the ones that scare us or bring up anger in us are our best teachers, because like pain from an injury, they call us to focus on where our fears exist.
These beliefs are mine and mine alone. I do not expect anyone else, let alone everyone else, to believe what I believe. If others condemn me for my faith, they can contemplate why they do so. That is not my job. If others feel joy or growth through my awareness of my faith, all the better. I have accepted that I will always question the structure of my faith, but I suspect that my faith itself will be everlasting.
Perhaps in my questioning, I have walked through the door that was meant for me, the door of a seeker of knowledge and wisdom. I believe everyone has a job to do on this planet, and one of my jobs is to ask questions out loud. I can’t possibly have the answers for anyone else, but that is fine with me because I am not walking another person’s path. I can only find my peace, my truth, and my unity with others in my own way, celebrating others’ light along the way. To me, that is consistent with my faith and the God I believe in.
So, I offer my little prayer of thanksgiving to those who have been my teachers, friends and challengers alike, for they have given me opportunities to find happiness. I am grateful to not tolerate, but celebrate the paths of my brothers- and sisters-in-light. I continue to welcome new thought, new wisdom into my life, brought by generous souls, whether they are aware of the gifts they bring or not. I remain aware that I still have an inconceivably long journey ahead of me to understand God. These are the gifts I receive from God for which I am so very thankful. For those who insist on others believing as they do, I ask you this: How did you choose your door?
 Wikipedia (2011) “Major Religious Groups” Wikipedia. Retrieved July 15, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups
 Rizzo, Allesandra (2008, March 31) “Muslims ‘overtake’ Catholics, become world’s largest religion.” National Geographic. Retrieved July 15, 2011 from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080331-AP-islam-largest.html