I have nothing against religion.
I’m just not a fan of using religion to justify hypocrisy, violence, discrimination, or abuses of power. And those things seem to happen a lot.
When it comes to Christianity, I can admire the character of Jesus Christ. He was a man of peace, non-judgment, and self-sacrifice for the good of others.
All things I can really respect and get behind.
Even more than that, though, Jesus Christ was someone who not only practiced those traits, but he also promoted them and led through example—he encouraged others to be peaceful, accepting, and non-judgmental. He encouraged people to help those in need; he encouraged forgiveness and doing good for others without expectation of reward.
And he got a lot of sh*t for it.
Now, I’m agnostic; I don’t believe or disbelieve in any religion one way or another because I just don’t know.
Despite not embracing any particular religion, though, when it comes to religious leaders like Christ, I can still admire admirable character traits.
I can give credit where credit is due.
In terms of religious leaders who are alive today, something very similar can be said about my views toward Pope Francis.
In many ways, he’s contributing to the good in the world.
I may not be a believer in Catholicism, but that doesn’t make him any less good of a person.
It’s not his religion that makes him a good person, either; it’s the character traits he demonstrates in his actions.
In a time when many people in our country and in our world are demonizing the poor, shunning refugees in the global refugee crisis, and selfishly damaging our world’s natural environment, Pope Francis has gone before world leaders to challenge these issues.
Despite widespread criticism and accusations from many of America’s far-right Christians, Pope Francis has continued to speak out against much of the world’s violence, human rights violations, and other injustices and atrocities.
It doesn’t matter if I’m on board with his religion; I’m on board with many of his morals.
During his visit to the United States, the Pope has addressed Congress on many troublesome problems in front of America right now.
Among other controversial topics, he spoke about the refugee crisis, telling Congress that immigrants should be treated “with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.” In his address, he said refugees should be seen as “persons” rather than “numbers,” and he challenged representatives to see their faces and hear their stories.
He also spoke on other topics, promoting peace, tolerance, and justice.
He warned against religious fundamentalism and economic inequality, and he spoke on the importance of passing just legislation.
Besides talking to national leaders, the Pope stopped to pray for the blessing of a disabled boy on his way from the airport, spoke to Philadelphia on the need for interfaith dialogue and peaceful relations, and gave his attention to the elite and disadvantaged alike.
All incredibly good things.
Of course, as with many religions and denominations of Christianity, there are views within the Catholic Church that I strongly disagree with. When it comes to subjects like reproductive rights and marriage equality, there are morals and beliefs of mine that sharply contrast with those of the Pope.
Nonetheless, I have to appreciate where there is good.
The thing about our world leaders, religious or otherwise—even some of the most honest and well liked of them—is they’re all human at the end of the day.
I do wish for further progression on some topics, but I don’t expect perfection from anyone, and I can appreciate good when I see it.
So as someone who is agnostic and follows no religion, I have to say I really like this pope. There are some things we disagree on, but his character—one of peace and tolerance—is one that I truly respect and admire.
Author: Stacey Johnston
Editor: Travis May