Since news broke that 300 priests in Pennsylvania were being accused of sexually assaulting more than 1000 children, members of the Catholic faith have been expressing their disappointment in the Church.
While this is only the latest in a series of Catholic sexual abuse cases that have come to light, hugely upsetting scandals like this can and do happen in any religion. After these revelations, practitioners often end up feeling confused and unsure of where to turn. Many believers even begin to question their devotion to their religion or their faith in a higher power.
As someone who is not religious but has been impacted by faith a lot throughout my life, these feelings of disappointment have resonated with me. I’ve felt isolated, hated, and not accepted for who I am because of a belief system. Whether or not I was a part of a church at the time, religion somehow always comes back to hurt me.
I was hurt the most when I came out as bisexual to my parents. Though my mother was seemingly okay with it, my father wasn’t. Despite the fact that he hated the religion he was raised in and didn’t want anything to do with it, his childhood had been spent sitting in the pews of a very conservative church, and that influenced his opinions even 30 years later.
Church was never a place for me to go, and faith itself was like a joke to me. Feeling alone and afraid, I remembered a quote that a close friend told me years ago, to which I’ve never found the author:
“At the end of the day, you will have nobody but yourself. You will have to put yourself to bed.”
When we have nowhere to go, we must remember to take care of ourselves. Life is a journey of love, suffering, joy, and sadness. If we can find solace in our hardships, it will become easier to work through them and get to the great parts of life again.
If you’re a believer, remember that what matters most is your personal connection to your faith, regardless of what your religious leaders might tell you. In times of doubt, keep doing what you have been doing to feel that connection. If you believe in a higher power, you don’t need some sort of mediator to have a relationship with it.
If your place of worship is pushing messages that you don’t agree with or feel uncomfortable hearing, it may be time to consider finding a new place of worship. You don’t necessarily need to give up your faith like I did.
I gave up on something that brought me a lot of pain, but I know that there are so many people that religion has positively impacted, who have found acceptance and a sense of community in their places of worship.
In the end, go back to where you feel safest. Don’t force a relationship with something or someone you don’t want a relationship with. Be truthful to yourself and how you are feeling. If faith is all you have, then be faithful.
If you’re a KPU student and you feel like you need somewhere to go to, a community to rely on, or some questions answered, you can always stop by the Multi-Faith Centre. There, they’ve created a safe space for people to be able to speak their mind freely and get help with finding their way in faith.