There were certain taboo subjects around the family dinner table when I was a kid. The news would be on the television in the other room; Dad was most likely keeping an ear on that. We didn’t talk about religion and we didn’t talk about politics. Ever. Once in a while politics would come up at Gram and Gramps’ across the street, when that whole side of the family was together, but they would end up in heated discussions and Dad would retire to the living room to read a magazine. It was usually an aviation magazine.

I was always taught that one’s religious beliefs were private. It was considered rude to be loud about your religion. Different kinds of religion were fine, just be quiet about it. So that’s what we did. My religious beliefs, which grew into more of a spiritual belief, were between me and what I believed in. The only thing we did that was outwardly religious on a daily basis was say prayer before supper and I don’t really know why we did that. Habit, I guess. Readers may be surprised to find out that I still say grace before dinner. It’s one of two rhyming numbers I’ve said all my life and the rest of my family here in Tucson goes along. Sometimes they slap their hands and yell “break!” when I’m done and then we start eating. I’m happy and fortunate that my chosen family goes along with this tradition from my biological family.

Because we were always taught that religion is private, I still find it surprising when someone starts spouting hallelujahs or “Praise Jesus!” all over Facebook, like God needs an affirmation via Mark Zuckerberg. I have a few friends from high school and quite a few relatives that will post vague social media updates, “I really need prayers today. I can’t say, but pray for me”. I always picture myself dropping an American quarter down a well and hope for the best, because in my mind they’re basically using their power of prayer like a wishing well. My spirituality doesn’t work that way but I don’t mind throwing a coin in the wishing well if it makes others happy. It’s when people use their religion to beat you over the head with a Bible; that’s when I get cranky. Speak softly. Listen. Keep your beliefs close to your heart. No need for a billboard.

Having traveled in all 50 states I can safely ascertain that many Americans feel God needs a bumper sticker, he needs guns, and he hates a lot of stuff. This is the all loving God they talk about, of course.

Too many religions are just nuts.