Yes. I am Religious

Yes, I am a religious person. I own the label in much the same way I own the terms radical, queer, anarchist, and punk. I own the term "religious" in its fullness, and that means having to own all of the baggage that comes with it. I own the term when it is misused, misunderstood, and when its reputation falters every bit as much as I lay claim to all of the good things that I think religion has wrought in the world - and there are many. I don't have the privilege of dissociating myself from the term when it  becomes inconvenient or embarrassing, much as I am tempted to do so. 

I lay claim to a hope, however naive, that religion provides an essential function in human culture, even when not essential for every individual. Plenty of people don't need religion. That is fine. I am not naive enough to believe that religion is perfect, least of all mine, or that many religious institutions are not in need of fundamental reforms in structure, dogma, and power dynamics. And I do my part as a religious person to work for these changes from the inside and to represent the best of religious ideals in the world around me. While it may not be popular these days to identify as "religious,” diminished as the term is in the popular imagination by the exclusion, dogma, and regressive politics of its most vocal proponents - I will not deny the power and relevance of religion to be a guiding force towards our better selves.