Honorable mention: Diversity discouraged in religious communities by Jazmyn Glause

Diversity discouraged in religious communities

FFRF awarded Jazmyn $200.

By Jazmyn Glause

As a minority and nonbeliever in a small town in rural Wisconsin, I feel like others are constantly trying to force their beliefs upon me even when they don’t realize it. In my community I have firmly come out as a nonbeliever for many reasons. Think of the positive effect that encouraging non-whites to become freethinkers or nonbelievers would have on our society.

I had not thought much about my religious standpoint until I moved to Rice Lake, Wis., in December 2012. After moving to such a religious community I realized that it seemed as if most religiously inclined people didn’t have a grasp on their own opinions or morals.
Everything they believed was pulled right out of the bible, regardless of their understanding of the topic. The teenagers in town cling to the words spoken during Mass, not to mention that the depictions of the words and “beliefs” within the bible are usually blown out of proportion. It leads believers to be very unaccepting of diversity and revolutionary beliefs. I quickly decided that this was not what I wanted for myself. I am naturally a very accepting and loving person, yet I still question everything. I would never be one to believe something I read or heard without looking further into it. I came to the conclusion that I would rather not be involved in religion at all because I like to have my own morals, beliefs and opinions in life.

As a whole, I see much discouragement of diversity within the religious community, especially as a minority and a member of the LGBT community. Every day I am told, whether directly or indirectly, that my way of life should be corrected or I should be involved in the church to stay out of the “trouble” that “people like me” usually get into. It’s apparent that anyone who doesn’t fit the mold that religion has created for our society will not be accepted by believers, or believers will try to “correct” diverse people without their consent.

As for nonwhite communities, I feel that it would be a good idea to encourage freethought and/or nonbelief. In politics, the people who support non-white communities in the greatest ways are the liberals, who most of the time aren’t as heavily religious as conservatives. If we can encourage freethought within these communities, we can continue to elect officials who are working toward the betterment of a wider spectrum of people, not just those who have fit the perfect cookie cutter mold of past generations. If we show non-white communities that they will be more widely accepted by those whose beliefs aren’t fueled by religion, they will be more likely to look into freethought and/or nonbelief themselves. In doing this we will be able to work toward a society with a great variety of beliefs, morals, opinions and values. In return, more people will be accepted and treated as equals no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status or anything else that seems to divide our nation.

I am confident in my decision to be out as a nonbeliever in my community and my country. I believe my decision will have a positive impact on my community and open a door for freethought within it. I will continue to break down barriers as a minority and as a freethinker in my small town in rural Wisconsin, and I will take these beliefs with me wherever I go.

Jazmyn Glause, 18, attended Rice Lake High School in Rice Lake, Wis., but was originally born in Grand Island, Neb. She is a sponsored skateboarder and works as a bike mechanic at a bicycle shop in Rice Lake. She is attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in art with an emphasis in graphic design.

Freedom From Religion Foundation