I grew up believing that politics and religion were two different things. I thought that I could agree with my parents’ moderate Republican beliefs and go to church without one affecting the other. The problem was that when I was ten years old, living in Southern California, I had absolutely no idea what I believed in.
I’m 20 years old now and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, what I believe in.
I have been a registered Democrat since I was 19 and my opinions almost always fall on the liberal side of an issue.
Growing up, my parents never judged what I believed in, but rather encouraged me to do my research so I can make an informed opinion.
That said, I’ve had a hard time feeling at home in my chosen political party, mainly due to the other, undeniable fact about me: I’m a Christian.
I’ve been going to church my entire life. I went to Sunday school, summer sleepaway camps, and Vacation Bible School. I went to youth group and Bible study. I was your stereotypical church kid and I loved every minute of it.
Nobody noticed, and those that did never cared that I was a liberal Christian. I rarely thought about it myself until Donald Trump was elected president in 2016.
That fall, nearly 60% of Christian voters cast their ballot in Trump’s favor, while 81% of Christians who identify as evangelical, or born again, voted for our current president.
Now I am, by no means, an evangelical Christian. I never flaunted my faith and I never really discussed it because, if I’m being frank, I had far more interesting things to talk about in high school.
When Trump was elected, I was in religious limbo. God had taken a backseat to One Direction, passing my driver’s test and filling out college applications. I was dealing with so much stress at the time and it wasn’t until this year that I actually felt like a Christian again. I started going to a new church and spending time with God-loving people. For the first time since I was 15, I had faith in what I believed in.
Christianity has always been linked to conservative ideals, but I want to set the record straight; what you see on the news, the hate and bigotry, is not us.
I am not denying the existence of the Christian Right because it is very real. The group is characterized as people who believe in progressing conservative ideals based on their interpretation of the Bible.
This isn’t me by any means—it never has been.
I believe that love is love, no matter what. I believe that climate change is real, and I am pro-choice. I think that building a wall does far more harm than it does good and I am a strong proponent for strict gun control.
These are some of my most core beliefs, but the second I tell people I’m a Christian, those beliefs get dismissed and replaced by preconceived notions.
I have plenty of opinions. I believe that ranch dressing is the only acceptable dipping sauce for chicken tenders. I believe that “Moneyball” is the greatest sports movie of all time, and I believe that the Bible, above anything else, encourages us to love one another. This love is not conditional or contingent on anything. This love does not discriminate.
This summer, I met a girl who loved God with her whole heart. She introduced me to a group of people who praised God and spent time in prayer. Together, we spent our summer going on hikes and cramming into group selfies.
That girl is now my best friend, and so are the people she brought into my life, and I refuse to believe that it was by chance, or by accident.
It doesn’t matter if your beliefs are unconventional. Some might say that I can’t be both liberal and Christian, but at the end of the day, what political box we put ourselves in doesn’t matter. My political party forces me to think about the world in an informed and honest way, but my faith sends me places I would not have the courage to go on my own.