I've never been a person that will deny someone the right or opportunity to have and express their opinion, because I believe that the only way to develop my own views is to consider those of others.
In the same way, I'm a very liberal person - if we learn from each other, why is there a mentality that we have the right to stop others from doing what they want to do?
The only time I have an issue with an opinion is when it hurts someone else. Even in that circumstance, it doesn't irritate me simply because I don't agree with whatever is expressed, but because if the expression of a view transforms into the action of restricting someone else's ability to feel free to be who they are and believe in what they choose to believe in, then it isn't simply an opinion - it's oppressive.
This is where I have an issue with debates about religion.
There seem to be a massive amount of people who will defend to the death their right to NOT believe, but have no issue attacking those who do.
Personally, I have a very 'live and let live' view of the world. I pride myself in the fact that I have in the past, and will continue to, stand up for those who are being told by others that the way they live is unacceptable; that the way they look is wrong or that they are in love with the wrong person.
Who am I to judge?
I have no right to pass any kind of judgement on another person, because I have not experienced all the things they have, and I certainly haven't experienced those things with the same level of emotion that they have; with the same cultural significance.
I'm Catholic, but that doesn't make me ignorant. It doesn't make me racist or homophobic or superior to anybody else.
It just makes me who I am.
Generalisations, often on the part of non-believers, that everyone who believes in God or takes part in organised religion has some kind of grudge against the world are hurtful.
They're hurtful to me, personally, when I read them and I know they're hurtful to other religious people who are accepting of people from all walks of life.
What I'm getting at here is that if someone doesn't believe in God, or doesn't agree with the idea of organised religion, or takes issue with some piece of scripture from some holy text, they have a right to that opinion; but it doesn't mean that people should then generalise from that issue.
And if someone does do that, aren't they then just as bad as the people they are judging?
If you attack all of the members of a religion and accuse them of being racist or sexist or homophobic, aren't you ostracising them in the very same way that you are accusing them of ostracising a minority?
Religion is subjective.
Just because I believe in God doesn't mean I agree with every single piece of scripture that has ever come from my religion.
The way a person interprets spirituality and religion and scripture is dependent on that person's character.
When I go to church, I take away things that I think will make a positive impact on me and the people around me.
Loving your neighbour
Leaving judgement up to god
Treating others as you want to be treated
That having faith in yourself is key, and faith in God will come later
The importance of forgiveness
The importance of acceptance and tolerance
So I'm afraid, even if it is your opinion that all religions are oppressive and discriminatory, I will never be able to agree with you.
A religion is made up of the people that follow it, and I don't believe that the majority of people are spurred on by hate. I have more faith in the human race than to believe that.
The very essence of any religion is to have faith.
What, exactly, justifies dictating that those who have faith are ignorant?
The majority of religious people don't condemn those who don't believe.
Human beings need faith whether it be religious, placed in a family member, in a friend or in science or simply faith in ourselves.
Sometimes, regardless of how hard you try to forgive, it's difficult to have faith in people that attack you because of your beliefs - judging someone based on a religious generalisation makes you guilty of the same behaviour you accuse them of.
So, in case anyone was wondering, I'm not racist, or sexist, or homophobic. I don't hate you for not believing in God. I don't believe that every single word that has ever been written in scripture is fact. I will not condemn you to hell because you believe in sex before marriage. I don't think I'm better than you. I don't want to convert you. I don't agree with extremists and I do believe in total equality.
What I would quite like, is to be left alone to believe in what I choose to.