Recently I heard the following exchange..

‘Are you religious?’
‘Oh no I’m not religious, I’m a Christian.’

I’ve heard it before, to be honest, but had forgotten about it, or blanked it from my mind would possibly be a better description for it. I remember it being one of those answers to give in the late 80’s and early 90’s but I thought times had moved on. I mean, have you heard it? Have you said it? I realise my upcoming comment may not be universally popular but for me, and I’m trying to be diplomatic here, this answer is not just icky but makes me want to scream! ‘A little extreme’ I suspect you are saying. Well let’s just examine and think about what’s been said.

Firstly, someone, by asking the original question, has shown a vague and passing interest in your faith. They have shown interest and initiated a conversation about it. In the secular world we live in where most conversations revolve around how we make and spend money or relationships between ourselves and others, this in itself is amazing. They want to know about the most important thing in your life, what makes you tick and what influences your decisions. But instead, the person asking the question gets corrected on the terminology they have used. Seriously?! If you are guilty of giving this answer then I think you need to go and sit on the bottom step and think about the consequences of your actions. Go on…

Secondly, why do we have such a problem with the word ‘religious’ anyway? At my last check, Christianity was and is a religion. And not just any willy-nilly religion but the world’s largest religion. 31.5% of the world’s population make up this religion so why would anyone try and distance themselves from that? OK, so in the UK the word ‘religious’ may suggest that you’re a tad boring but if you think the response above makes you sound young, hip and down with the kids, oh wow do I have news for you! You’re actually portraying more ‘freak’, and at best ‘pedantic’. Sorry people, I’m not sure I even have Christian terminology that would achieve what you’re aiming for, it’s probably one of those things where actions speak louder than words eh?

Finally… I’m going to suggest that we reclaim the words ‘religion’ and ‘religious’ and use them with pride. When we look in the dictionary for the actual meanings of the word this is what we find..

synonyms: devoutpiousreverent, believing, godlyGod-fearingdutifulsaintly,holyprayerful, churchgoing, practising, faithfuldevotedcommitted

I can’t see any there that I wouldn’t want to use to describe my faith, although ‘saintly’ may be a little optimistic!

So today I declare.. My name is Jennie Sharpe and I am religious.