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|Faith & Religion: Is religious faith important to you?|
|Written by Matt Schafer|
|Friday, 18 February 2011 00:00|
“I used to [attend church], but not any more. I’m a student at Georgia State so I do go to that Catholic Church by Underground for Mass sometimes when I have time. … With me and my religion I try not to allow the organized aspect to concern me from having a relationship with God. I separate it because I know that people aren’t God. They say they know, but they don’t know. I just try to live a good life and do all the right things and not really let that concern me.”
“[Faith] plays a pretty large role in my life. I don’t go to church on a regular basis, but I am a spiritual person, I believe in God. … When I go to church I normally seek out a church that says they’re gay friendly, and that pretty much determines which one I go to. ...
“There was a time where I was going to a church in Buckhead, I can’t remember the name of it, and I was going there my girlfriend; she was very spiritual and was raised in the church. I was going and I was enjoying the message and I was enjoying the feeling I was getting. But I couldn’t get past the fact that if these people knew we were together they probably wouldn’t be so friendly, and that bothered me. Because I wasn’t raised in the church I don’t feel the need to go every Sunday, I just go when I feel the need. That was a big issue for me and I stopped going because of it.”
“My church is Love & Acceptance Tabernacle located on Boulevard… I’m not originally from Atlanta and one of my friends took me there. I wanted to attend a church where I felt comfortable, a church that didn’t condemn me or that said I was going to hell because of this or that or the other. I grew up in the Church of God in Christ Holiness and that’s what they taught. If I was going to hell, I was going to hell and I just got tired of hearing that. So I wanted a church that would accept me...
I would say that my [current] church is multi-sexual: we have transsexuals, straight couples, gay couples, married couples as well. My pastor preaches love and acceptance; he doesn’t condemn anyone.”
“Pretty Ricky” Agofalin
“My family is Catholic, so I have a Catholic upbringing, and my family is currently Baptist so I have been baptized. Since I’ve been out on my own, faith is something that I have internally. I don’t believe in the institution of church, so I don’t go to church. I do believe in God, I do believe in a higher power, I just don’t believe in any structured rule setting. … I’m one of those people who believes that God is in me, so I have that personal relationship with him. I have had to have faith to go through my normal daily life.”
“I go to [Saint Mark United Methodist Church] … I deliberately chose the church because they were an open and accepting church. … I would say that it is still a struggle even in the Methodist Church with the hierarchy and on the governance of the church. So it’s still a work in progress on that level, but the local church is accepting and that’s good enough for me. I think the best religions are the ones that grow along with the people who are serving it. I think that God is growing as well. If the universe is growing I don’t see why God can’t.”
“In Russia [where I was raised] I was kind of forced to go church, and when I came here I do my own thing. … I have faith, I do have faith that everything that happens in my life... I have faith. ”
“I attend the Power Center, they are open or accepting, I’m not sure which term they like to use. … I was introduced to them through a friend and have been there ever since. I’ve actually been leading worship at another inclusive church called Restoration Ministries.
“I’m not the sort of person who identifies as a gay woman; I’m just do what I want to do when I want to do it. So long as I’m not hurting nobody it shouldn’t be anybody’s business. I’m still kind of reconciling it, but I subscribe to the belief that God loves me regardless of what I do.”
“I was born in the Philippines, so growing up we went church almost every Sunday, everybody did. I’ve been here in the states for 15 years, and I go to church. My partner and I are Catholic, he’s of Italian descent. We’ve talked about it and we probably need to go more often than we’ve been going. I think it plays a big part that I can always go back to my roots, my faith, not just in good times, but also in bad. …
“I’ve had more questions now that I’ve come into my own about the teaching of the Catholic Church and my sexuality. Growing up in the Philippines, the church there is very tradition based, like it’s a sin to use a condom. There are more questions now, but I’m not going to throw my faith out the window.”
“I was a completely atheist family. Well, not outwardly atheist, just people who have no penchant for religious teaching whatsoever. It was never really brought up; the only place I was really made aware of it was at school which had compulsory religious education, which I whole heartedly disagree with. …I’m not an atheist; I think it’s too arrogant to even say with conviction that there is no God, just as much as it is to say that there is. I don’t believe in organized religion at all, but I do kinda believe that there is some sort of higher energy or being. I don’t know.”
“I have a personal faith. I don’t have a regularly attended church because I feel like my lifestyle doesn’t embrace that as much as I wish it could. … As I’ve gotten older I’ve felt like I broadened my horizons a little bit, so I’ve definitely opened up to other religions more. I grew up in a religious home and so my faith was kind of grounded early on, and then I went to a Baptist college. I went to Baylor and it was so heavily impacted that it made me withdraw a little bit because it was a little bit over the top at times. So since college I’ve been working on what does it mean to me, and I sort of just have my own personal faith.”
“I was born and raised a devout Catholic and I’ve sorta strayed from that. I’m a little different than the rest of my family, so no disrespect to that but it’s the wrong thing for me. … I think when people state definitively that there is no God, it’s just as wrong as definitively saying there is one. I don’t think anyone can really know for sure, so I’m more agnostic than anything.”
Photos and interviews by Matt Schafer
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