Religion is confusing to believers

Michelle Poje

Last Wednesday, shockwaves rippled across the continent as – yes it’s true – “American Idol” contestant Mandisa was the next superstar wannabe voted off the hit reality show.

Pop music enthusiasts everywhere were amazed. Mandisa was easily one of the more talented contestants on the show. So what caused her downfall?

Apparently, the fact that she supposedly hates homosexuals had a lot to do with it.

Following her elimination, newspapers proclaimed that Mandisa was homophobic because she told The Advocate, a magazine that serves the gay community, that she is not an advocate for homosexuality and that she would not perform at a concert supporting homosexuals.

However, Mandisa also says she is “very upset” for being linked to the ex-gay movement and said, “I live my life by the value system that you treat others the way you want to be treated. I let love be my guide. I absolutely hate no one.”

Mandisa’s quote proves to be very confusing to me. On the one hand, she says she would not perform at a concert for homosexuals. On the other, she says she loves everyone. For me, this situation is a perfect example of something that I think is occurring in religion today. People don’t know what they believe anymore.

As a Catholic, I face the same problem. I was raised to frown upon homosexuality and look down upon those who live together before marriage or read “scandalous” novels like The Thorn Birds.

But I couldn’t find it in me to condemn someone for these things. While I have chosen to instill certain values in my own life, I couldn’t hate someone who didn’t share those same values.

Yet, the stereotype of me being a “stuffy Catholic” still lingers. A prime example occurred when Brokeback Mountain came out. A co-worker came up to me and said, “Are you going to go picket outside the movie theater now?” It had never dawned on him that perhaps I was actually interested in seeing the movie. He just assumed I was against it because I’m Catholic.

In a similar instance, I had a friend withhold that she was living with her boyfriend because she thought I would think less of her. When I merely shrugged and said, “It’s your life, do what you want.” She was surprised. Once again, the stereotype had gotten in the way.

There are a lot of people who are religious, but do not strictly follow the rules or share the views of their church. I’m one of them. Maybe that makes me a bad Catholic. But in this day and age, I think more people are choosing to go down less regimented religious paths and be more open-minded to issues. I know religions, at least mine, are working to take this step. So why shouldn’t their followers?

I’m not sure if Mandisa is homophobic or not. I think she is more confused by what her religion has taught her and how she truly feels. People need to make sure they question their own personal beliefs before they preach the ones they were taught. Mandisa’s confusing quote can serve as a lesson for us all.

Michelle Poje is a senior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].