Here in the heart of the bible belt, there is a church on every corner, literally. Religion here in the South is not just a part of life, it is a way of life. When you are asked, “What church do you go to?” you’re  expected to promptly respond with the name of a well known church. Not being a church regular, I respond with, “I don’t go to church,” after which I am given a look of judgment that would put Saint Peter to shame. Would it have been better for me to lie? I think not. Simply not going to church does not mean that I do not believe in God. I just choose to worship differently, as my belief system does not strictly abide by the rules and laws of any of the many churches of which I am surrounded by.

The bible belt is defined as being the group of states located in the Southeastern United States. Forty-Eight percent of the bible belt’s population is religious in the way that they regularly attend church. Nineteen percent of that forty-eight being Baptist. Therefore, Baptists dominate the bible belt. If you have ever been to a Baptist church, you know that it is boring as hell. Having said that, I may just get to experience that comparison first hand, however, I am speaking truthfully.

I grew up in the bible belt and have lived here my entire life. My family never pushed religion on me, but I was taught about religion. Not just Christianity, but I was taught about all forms of religion, and how they apply to different regions and cultures. I was left to freely make my choice as to which religion I wanted to be a part of and idenified with. That was an important part in my growing up experiece and my free thought processes. This taught me to think freely and make choices based upon my own opinions and not just make life decisions based on the theory that is just “what you are supposed to do,” which is what many bible belters believe. Religion is passed down from generation to generation and there is no opportunity for freedom of choice. It is as people are living a strictly choreographed lifestyle, and they don’t even know it.

This is not an attack on the bible belt or Christianity, but rather a inquistive article addressing some of the issues brought about by living here. When questioning a religion such as Christianity, most Christians see it as an attack on their way of life. The first amendment protects that, so trust me, there is nothing to worry about. However, freedom of religion includles all religions. Here in the bible belt, that is often forgotten or disregarded. In addition, Jesus said to love one another as he loves us, unconditionally, but if you are gay, pro-choice or an evolutionist, you don’t count here in this religious neck of the woods. Sorry, but Jesus did not include an asterisk next to this teaching. For instance, love one another *but only under the following conditions… that is not the way it goes, hence the word unconditionally. People of the bible belt fail to realize this. It is God’s place to judge, not ours. God loves us all. He loves us whether or not we attend church regularly, are gay or straight, or have different beliefs. He even loves you hypocrites who sit on the front pew every Sunday smiling in the preachers face after sleeping with his wife.

Each time I hear about the bible belt, it is always a negative remark. Being the proud southerner that I am, I started thinking about this. In my thinking, I realized, the bible belt does nothing to live up to it’s name. Orion’s Belt is more heavenly than the bible belt. I’m not shaming where I come from, I am calling out the people who make the bible belt what it is, which is a critical, judgmental, bullshit group of people, claiming to be Christians, nor am I passing judgment upon these poor souls. Judgment is one thing, but truth is another. Judgment is in God’s hands, but the truth will set you free.