God Doesn't Have Instagram

It's not uncommon to see the influence of religion and personal beliefs just about everywhere we look. Faith is something that people of all cultures share; transcending race, gender, socioeconomic status, age and nationality. Faith has the ability to facilitate self-actualization or extreme intolerance. Faith is a wildcard and can influence different people to do many different things. Sometimes, faith divides and is used as a weapon. Religion was the decoy that was used to, more fluidly, colonize the 'New World' back when Pizarro and Columbus decided to steal from our ancestors. That story is well known (I hope) by my Afro-Latinos and fellow Caribbean people. Under the guise of spreading Christianity, many Europeans traveled to the Americas and the Caribbean to convert native people to this relatively new religion, but they were actually slaughtering them and appropriating their land. That was one of the first times in human history where religion was used as a weapon. It's devastating effects can still be felt until this day, as many native people are still displaced and suffer immensely because they have lost a large portion of their identity when the Americas were colonized and they were unable to practice their spiritual rituals. Somewhere along the lines, the pious and the devout have developed a warped interpretation of spirituality, one that allows them to condemn other people in the name of God. I am aware that not everyone uses religion or spirituality to usurp the individuality of others, but the ones who do are rather loud and I have no time for them.

For the record, I have a deep and unshakeable belief in God. I sometimes refer to God as the universe because for me, these two things are one-in-the-same. I believe in science but I have also seen the living God work through me and the people I love. What exactly have I seen? I have seen kindness, generosity, understanding, compassion and love. All of these things indicate to me that there is a Force that conspires for the happiness and safety of every single creature on this planet. I believe that we are ALL a manifestation of God, even those who don't believe in God - you have every single right to believe whatever you want and I honor your free will. I also believe in gay marriage, a woman's right to govern her reproductive system and an individual's freedom to explore their sexuality. Here's a little history about my upbringing: I was raised Catholic and have done every sacrament up until Confirmation, I attended a catholic school for 14 years and am so grateful for the experience. I was exposed to faith at a very young age and was fortunate enough to have been taught by individuals who carefully groomed me to be respectful and tolerant of others. I attended church regularly while in school at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, in Dyckman, and always felt incredibly connected to the lessons that were taught as part of the ceremony. I suppose that my positive experience with formal religion as a child has helped me understand faith as an adult, but beyond that; I know that the universe conspires for EACH of us and the Spirit can reach anyone, wherever and whoever we are. 

Alright, you might be asking: If she’s had such a wonderful experience with faith then why is she complaining about people using it as a weapon? Well, because people have done it to me. A few years ago, I was on a television show and my social media accounts became open to the public's opinion. I am not sensitive to the things that strangers say to me, however, I am incredibly annoyed by the individuals who go on a crucifixion spree on Instagram or Twitter and try to nail up anyone who believes in something slightly different. I GOT NO TIME. I am adamant at expressing my view that everyone has the right to say or do whatever they want, as long as it's done with no ill will. For some reason however, there are callous people on social media who go incredibly hard to choke other people with their own beliefs. Let me be clear in saying this, I don't believe in a God that is unforgiving or a God that punishes people or condemns us for choices and natural happenings like our sexual orientation. The God that I believe in is a multi-faceted being that breathed it's wondrous LIGHT into every living creature so that we might experience the awe-inspiring beauty of free will and sovereignty. The God I believe in offers its love freely, without any conditions. It does not pick and choose or punish and scold. The God that I believe in is the SOURCE of all Life, has many different names and is planning something wonderful for you... Right now.

I recently had an experience with a very drunk, very obnoxious girl who visited my job as a guest and recognized me. I was happy to talk to her up until she said “I used to follow you.. But I had to unfollow because you were like ‘ fuck Jesus’ “. I was at work and would never say anything to offend my guests because that is just not my style. So I did my best to smile through it and lightly explained to her that I simply have an unconventional belief in God. She was probably referring to one of my various posts where I touched upon the fact that religion and science blend, where some asshole decided to say something like 'Jesus is going to punish you' or, 'This is wrong, you're wrong, what you believe is wrong' or my favorite, 'Christianity is the only way to God'. If the man named Jesus were alive today he'd probably give all of those keyboard warriors a piece of his mind and sound a lot like me. I understand that some of us have very strong beliefs and that's ALL good, but if you're using your faith or religion to condemn or knowingly offend others, it's actually YOU who is doing it wrong. When we talk of God, we should honor his/her/it's beauty and love by recognizing the freedom of others. It is not up to you to decide what is right and wrong for others, and the same goes for me. I can only make rules for myself and hope that others do the same. We are consciousness experiencing itself, we are literally God's light being projected into a physical body and reverberated back out into the universe.

Consciousness? Yes, consciousness! Before anything can become a physical thing, we must be conscious of it first. The same goes for speech, we are conscious of what we are saying before it leaves our mouths. Before we write something, we are conscious of it first.We have the capacity to create, the capacity to destroy and the capacity to love. I do not read the bible and I do not agree with ALL of the interpretations of the bible, however, I see parallels in Creationism and the Big Bang theory. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we should all keep our hearts open to one another. 

If you don't believe in God, that's okay! You have every right to believe in whatever you want and again, I honor that. But please just believe in other people. And if you do believe in God or Allah or Jah, etc. please do right by your faith and honor the freedom of others. Ultimately, that's what religion is for - a guideline for how we should treat others. We are all God's children: Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, Christians and Rastafari. And because we are 'children', we are constantly learning and receiving encouragement, all we need is to listen closer to hear the Message.

So for those of you who think it's okay to leave nasty or offensive comments in defense of your individual beliefs - JUST DON’T.

You might think that you know everything about a person by following them on social media, but you don't. Just like God/the universe, we are little mysteries that are constantly unfolding and evolving. Treat others with respect, especially when it comes to faith. Spirituality is an incredibly private thing. Some so us are happy to share our ideas and beliefs and some of us are private, honor our choices so that we may do the same for you. Our relationship with God/the universe is a deeply personal one, something that is as unique as our fingerprints. We owe it to one another to be champions of choice and should stand with, and not against one another. We share this planet, we share this dimension and we share this reality. We are all so much more alike than we are different. Allow the beauty of this world to inspire you and teach you how lovely it is to experience something different, even when that something is someone else's opinion of faith and God.

God doesn't have an Instagram account, and neither does Jesus, but even if they did I'm sure they would leave cute emojis underneath thirst traps and baby pictures alike. Love is the great equalizer. We are all equally important and all have the right to love who we want to, worship how we want and be spoken to with respect. Consider that the next time you're thinking about using your own faith as a weapon as your words do indeed have power.

-Frankie Reese