Does God hate people or do people hate God?

Photo by Jvdimas via Wikimedia

Sandeep Varry/Contributing Writer

I was walking towards the Deuxieme Maison building via the Graham Center fountain area and noticed something familiar. An activity that I had also noticed in my previous couple of visits around the same area: a man preaching Christian faith.

If you are familiar with the man, then you know that it is very hard for him to not catch your attention. Since I was short on time, I left the scene quickly.

On my way back, I noticed that the preacher had moved a few feet away. His original spot was taken over by a small group of students who were holding two sign boards and were talking among themselves.

The first sign read “Please ignore this man. Have a good one” and had a human rights “Equality Sticker” on it. The second sign read “I am sorry this man is so hateful.” On top of that, a student was playing his acoustic guitar, trying to drown out the preacher’s voice.

My first reaction towards the scene was more in favor of the preacher. Because it is not an easy job to be doing what he is doing, while facing opposition from the students who are laughing, making jokes and even shouting swear words at him as they pass by. He was focused, determined and exhibited a great deal of patience.

As I was walking away, I heard the preacher say something which brought me to a sudden halt. He said “Homosexuals don’t love God. Homosexuals love their homo sex. They don’t love God.”

All of a sudden, the signs that the students were holding started making more sense. The group of students was trying to not let such discriminatory statements get to people.

While this was my first time witnessing this on-campus, it was not the first time that I was confronted with a display of opposing beliefs. When you grow up in a nation as secular as India, you don’t even have to attend school to become an expert on religion.

Gandhi, a devoted Hindu, famously said “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” It is not very hard to relate to Gandhi’s sentiment, as one stands there listening to the preacher.

It was very hard for me to believe that Christ would say something so hateful. On one hand, the preacher is spreading the word of God. On the other, he adds his own commentary, presented as one package.

The preacher might have said a million good things before he addressed homosexuality. He might have said that God wants you to help the ones in need, God wants you to not steal, God wants you to be humble and compassionate, etc. But, nobody will remember that. What they will remember are his comments on the LGBT community. And people will associate his preaching with the generalization that Christianity hates homosexuals.

Growing up with close friends from all religions, I got a chance to experience the best in their faiths. I spent countless hours talking to friends about Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Jainism. Not once did I feel like turning away from any one of them. I always tell my best friend that the moment I got away from religion is the moment I grew closer to God.

Many modern day debates on religion follow the “your religion is bad because …” model instead of the “my religion is good because…” model. The problem does not arise when someone says “I am right,” but rather when someone says “I am right and you are wrong.”

I feel that, by being open to all faiths, I got a chance to see the very best in them. There is nothing wrong with following one faith, but I do feel that it should be done with tolerance. Knowing that one is right shouldn’t draw the conclusion that everyone else is wrong. When you go out and preach about one religion, people are going to take your word for it; if what you say is wrong, you won’t take the hit, your religion does.

I believe that faith is something which evolves and is not completely created at birth. Everyone should have the freedom of understanding faith and not blindly following it. The world needs God and religions because they provide the moral fiber and demand accountability for one’s acts.

My high school English teacher once said while arguing in favor of atheism, that people forget Darwin started his theory with the words “I believe.”  God doesn’t hate people, but some people end up hating God. If you want to change the world, you can start with changing yourself. To revisit Gandhi, “If you don’t find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.”

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