At one of the first Spirit of Life services I attended, Geoff shared some statistics that got me thinking about the influence of religion in my life as an American vs. an Australian. He said that in America, 48% of the population attends church regularly, as opposed to 17% of Australians and 25% of Britons.
I was raised Unitarian from the time I can remember and I became aware from a very young age that this made me a bit weird.
“What religion are you?” was not an uncommon question between children at the playground or in-between classes. I quickly learned that “Unitarian” was not an answer if I wanted an easy way out of the conversation. Unlike “Catholic” or “Lutheran” or “Baptist”, “Unitarian” actually required a lot more information.
My friend Patty’s answer was always “my parents are Catholic, but I don’t believe in that”. The kids would look at her in awe. But being raised in the suburbs with a white Irish mother and a black Nigerian father, Patty had learned early in life how to live with being different.
“Unitarian? What’s that?” All eyes would turn to me. I had no idea what to say. I didn’t know how to explain it, and, every time I tried, it just seemed to make things worse.
“What do you believe? Do you read the Bible? Do you believe in God? Jesus?”
At age 10, or whatever I was, these questions had absolutely no context. I was Unitarian. That was it. I didn’t know why, I didn’t know what it meant or how to explain it to others. It was just where I spent my Sunday mornings. It’s where my parents took me. And, it was where I felt at home.
“You can believe whatever you want. Not necessarily in God.” I might try to say.
“What kind of religion is that? That’s no religion at all.” They might respond.
“They’re just jealous, ignore them.” That was Mom’s advice. She always wore the symbol of the church, the chalice, around her neck. She sang the hymns the loudest, and she took charge of anything that was needed to keep the church growing and succeeding. Dad, ever the salesman, suggested that I invite them along to see for themselves.
Click here to continue reading: growing-up-weird3-for-april-2
Geoff Matthews says
The statistics that Jan mentions are a bit dated now, early 2000’s, and I have found the original ones quoted. Attendance at church weekly:
and the article went on to say, that yet the murder rate in the US is 6 times that of the UK, 7 France, 5 Aust, 5 Sweden. Interesting.