I was raised a Roman Catholic. Emphasis on Roman. The Pope was God. His word law.
I was one of eight kids in a neighborhood where most good Catholic families had seven, eight, nine or ten kids. And we all went to Catholic school, where I remember learning all about the missionaries who were tortured at the hands of the "Indians". How western expansion happened because the Word of God was being spread. And how great our country was because we represented Christ on Earth.
I went to confession every Saturday and Mass every Sunday. We said grace before every meal, did not eat meat on Fridays and never ate chocolate during Lent.
And I vowed after graduating from High School never to set foot in a Catholic Church again.
At the time I was more concerned with the over abundance of riches the Church displayed during a time of famine and suffering in the world. At 17 in 1970, I was idealistic enough to expect the Church to sell all the gold to feed the poor. I was naive enough to expect all humanity to embrace peace and love- good will toward mankind. I was a hippie- free to not want anything to do with organized religion. Spirituality, yes. Religion, no.
That all changed when I had my children. Call it Catholic guilt, but I could not imagine my children growing up outside the Church. So I had them baptized and signed up to teach CCD (Confirmation of Christian Doctrine) classes. That's when I had my epiphany.
I did not believe or follow almost all of the Catholic Church's teachings. So why am I a Catholic?
Divorced by this time (although my ex managed to get an annulment) a friend of mine brought me to her church. A small congregation full of fun loving peaceful people, my new home became the Lutheran Church.
Where nobody cares what you do- your relationship with God is personal. Sinners are welcomed. Nobody's perfect. God loves all. I stayed there for almost twenty years, until I moved and attending was no longer practical.
I found another church, but when I discovered they emphasized 'evangelical' I had to leave. Another epiphany. "I'm an American first," I remember telling the Pastor. "I'm not about to go and knock on doors telling people to do as I say."
But that's what's happening in the country today. Bishops and pundits. Congressmen and hate radio hosts. Governors and candidates. All are knocking on doors and telling you to 'do as they say'.
The church I now belong to shocked the country by ordaining women, allowing gays to openly participate and dedicates all its resources into helping the community.
I asked my Pastor how he felt about the contraception matter and the 'personhood' amendments. "Personhood", he said to me. "Isn't that happening in the same state that wanted to outlaw Sharia Law?" he chuckled. "A person is born. The life a woman carries in her womb is precious- but that life does not become a person until he breathes. That's the law."
And contraceptives? "That's a personal choice." Pure and simple.
I think of the Duggers, who made the personal choice to have 19 kids. And my sister, who made the personal choice to be childless. I think of my friend, who with his partner adopted two kids and I think of all those women struggling to become pregnant through fertility clinics.
Sharia Law- rules and regulations for a congregation of believers- was feared because of the horrible treatment of women, had to be fought against because it threatened our basic freedoms and is a danger to our society.
But Canon Law- rules and regulations for a congregation of believers- that's to be embraced and all those who are against it are the danger to our society.
That just does not make sense.