Vincent Ali, Broadside Correspondent

Every day I walk the paths of George Mason University waiting for someone to hand me a flier explaining why I should follow their path to God and leave my heathen lifestyle behind without a second thought. I politely listen to them, giving them a chance to convince me.
However many times I am approached, their aim is always the same. A five-minute conversation to convince me to change my ways is not an effective method to change the beliefs I have had for the past 23 years.

How can you possibly fathom the idea that I will change my life after five minutes? It blows my freaking mind. Half of the time it feels like these preachers just want more people to join their following. They see it as a way to strengthen their faith, even though they assure me that they are just trying to spread the word. It is kind of selfish when I look at it that way.

Most of my experiences with religion and spirituality have been pretty generic. Someone comes up to me saying that they have the cure to all of life’s problems — all you have to do is surrender yourself to their faith.

Leave all your false beliefs at the door and follow us, they say. We will guide you to nirvana. Essentially the same ideal of life is a privilege given to you. You should bow down to God’s will. I mean, it’s too much for me.

There are so many things I question. Why is my current path wrong? What if I join yours and I am still wrong? What then? Why would you forever damn me to hell? What makes your belief better than everyone else’s? Why does the cross look like a sword? There are, however, special cases that make my head hurt.
Brother Micah is a man on a “mission from God.” He believes that we are all going to hell if we do not follow him. He travels across the country seeking out sinners to “rescue.”

I have seen numerous videos of the man getting spat at, yelled at and even punched in the face because of the outrageous things he says. He wants someone to start a fight. He wants to get people riled up. It feels like he wants the world to know that in his mind he is righteous. Pretty much, if you are a woman, man, Middle Eastern or anything else he is not, you are hell-bound.

It is quite unsettling how much of an abhorrent human being this man can be. He was explaining how women should stay in their place and implied that he beat his wife in one instance.
I always believed that God loved his children. Why would this man choose to express His word so angrily? I thought to myself, perhaps he does it not for selfish reasons but to inspire others.

While this is going on, there are countless religious groups surrounding him. Countless groups try to reason with this bible-thumping lunatic. I will never understand the kind of people that let people like Micah represent them.

Religion is a beautiful thing, but some people’s interpretations of it scare the living daylights out of me. I dated (or tried to date) a Mormon girl in high school. She was a real sweetheart, until she started trying to convert me every five minutes.

In her view, you marry the one you date. The relationship ended badly when she proclaimed that she would choose me over another man, as long as I was Mormon. She couldn’t comprehend that I was a good person without religion. How do people come up with that mindset? A world with good people cannot exist without religion?

There is a great quote from USA Network in which a woman says, “I believe in all paths to God.” That rings a wonderful tone within my existence. Finally someone that understands that life is full of possibilities.
Maybe, just maybe, people can reach some form of a happy afterlife by being who they are. I mean, isn’t that why most people believe God gave them the power of choice?