Why I No Longer Claim A Label-Based Religious Identity

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Labels create room for hypocrisy.

Growing up immersed in any labeled belief system has this downfall—once a group claims to practice or own a series of values and beliefs, they are expected to uphold those values and beliefs.

Labels precede preaching and virtue-signaling.

Anyone familiar with Christianity knows that in most denominations, preaching is the bread-and-butter of spreading the good word to believers and non-believers alike. One doesn’t have to be a pastor to be a preacher—in fact, members of my own family took proselytizing very seriously, eager to convert anyone from the Jehovah’s Witness at the door to the boutique-store clerk.

Labels divide people into two categories—us, and them.

Growing up in the Christian world, I was constantly aware of two factions—Christians, and non-Christians. I had been taught that while non-Christians could be “nice” people, they were fundamentally flawed because of their rejection of God’s love. It was important not to associate with individuals whose own disbelief could “weaken your faith,” and thus, my community was comprised of Christians: the “us” group.

A label makes you think you’re something—and you’re not.

Christian. Catholic. Witch. New-ager. “Spiritual.” Buddhist. Yogi.

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Amanda Dollinger

Amanda Dollinger

The highest purpose of words is that they be used to connect one another.