The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Religion: What Does Religion Mean to You?

“I’m Muslim, and my family is both Muslim and Christian, but the majority of the time I follow Muslim culture. I’ve gone to church, and I’ve gone to a mosque, so I’ve done stuff with Christianity and I’ve done way more with Islam. It’s not really my choice, I’ve followed being Muslim since I was born, because of my mom’s side, and there’s nothing that I don’t like about being Muslim. It’s never been a huge part of my life other than holidays like Ramadan, which is when you fast for a month. That’s the time we really focus on the beliefs. During [Ramadan] we go to the mosque, we care a lot about family and we take time out of our lives to focus on religion.  We live with my grandparents, so it’s like fifty percent of our house is Christian, and then fifty percent is Muslim. My brother and my mom and I are Muslim, and my grandma and my grandpa and my dad are Christian.  The main thing is that none of our family is extremely religious, so we follow holidays, and sometimes go to a church or a mosque. And that’s the time that I personally feel both cultures, because when it’s Christmas, I spend a ton of time with like my grandparents and all of that. And my grandparents join in in our holidays. I feel like the religions kind of intertwine.”

—Senior Sophia Hyver

“I’m Catholic. Religion kind of is the grounding in my life. [Religion] is a process. For me, at least that’s what I believe. It’s a process, there’s moments where you feel like, “Oh, I don’t even know if I believe in God.” Why, why did this happen to me, if God loves you so much, why would these bad things happen? But those are the tests, the character tests, the tests of your faith and whether or not you’re going to be strong enough to push through. Faith is never going to be 100% solidified for me. I think there’s just a negative vibe towards being religious, period. So I think that makes it harder to be Catholic and to stand up and say, “I am religious” and be proud of it, because it’s looked down upon. I mean, most of my friends are atheists. FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) was sort of a big step for me. But I think it really deepened my faith because for me, there’s no more I’m Catholic on Sundays but then not during the week at school. I’m Catholic all the time and now it’s really evident with FCA on campus. I think I am stronger because I have to be more public about it and I have to kind of be a little more out there.

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Towards other beliefs, I’m so accepting. I think some people do this thing where I’m right, you’re wrong. People like things in black and white, and I think religion is a gray area. Of course everyone believes that their religion is the right one, and I understand and respect that, but I’m not sure that there’s one right answer to every question.”

—Senior Meghan McDermott

“I come from a bi-religious family, my mom is Jewish and my dad is Muslim and to me, religion means culture and it means appreciation of what others believe. Both my parents were raised far more religious than they raised me and a lot of times they have to give up certain traditions that they were raised with in order to raise my brother and I in a more loving and accepting family.

Religion to me shouldn’t dictate your life, it should give your life a purpose, and a sense of faith, and happiness, and optimism, but it shouldn’t be your entire life. It shouldn’t interfere with other portions of your life.

Growing up in the Bay Area, religion is not a big part of most people’s lives and I didn’t really understand how beautiful it could be until I went to a conference in North Carolina this summer. I woke up at five a.m. to go to church. I’ve never done that, it was something different.. You get there and realize that it’s about faith, it’s about optimism, it’s about feeling a purpose in your life, it’s about believing in something and it’s about making yourself the best person you can be.”

—Sophomore Julia Khan

“[Religion is] what guides in our decision making. It’s our moral compass. [Religion is important because] it’s something that I can always count on. You can’t count on anything else but yourself. That’s just something that I can always count on myself to always have. It’s not a physical thing, it’s more of something in your mind. So when I may lose a job, or whatever bad thing that may happen, I can always rely on [religion]. [Religion has] affected what I believe and how I view the world. [Religion is] going to always be in the back of my mind. It’s always going to be subconsciously a part of me.”

—Sophomore Hunter Lai

“I’m atheist. Atheism is not a belief, it is the lack of a belief in any deity or divine being, including a god. Atheism is also not the hate of religion; most atheists are actually quite accepting and respectful of others’ religions. What I find is the greatest challenge whenever I discuss my lack of belief is dispelling the misconceptions that some people have about atheism. I know many people who understand what it is and have their own attitude towards it, but I also know those who don’t. I can’t really blame them, seeing as atheism is not, in public schools, a subject as studied as any major religion.

Atheism is not a big factor in my personal life, as after all it requires no prayer or spiritual thought, but whenever religion comes up as a subject, what else am I supposed to say besides what I am? I just hope that someday, in those sorts of discussions, people will come in with a truthful understanding of what atheism is and what it isn’t.”

—Junior Ben Gardner-Gill

“For me, my religion is my whole way of life. It affects what I believe, and the way I think about basically everything, my morals and my standards. I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. My life has always been that way. It hasn’t changed very much. It affects the way I schedule my time, what my priorities are, the way I act. If my morals weren’t based on my religion, just knowing me, I might not be as honest. But because they are, then that’s important to me, and I always try to uphold my values like that. I put a high priority on spiritual things and devoting time to them, whereas I would probably spend my time differently if I wasn’t a spiritual person. I would have different priorities. I always plan on remaining one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because it gives me a purpose in my life, it’s something that’s really important to me, and it influences me for the better.”

— Sophomore Amy Spruill

“Religion means that you are faithful to what you believe in. For me, being a Christian is hard because there are a lot of sacrifices being made, a lot of temptations, but I still believe in my religion because he never failed me before and I’ve been through a lot at such a young age. Throughout my life, I’ve seen people come into my life and leave without saying goodbye, but everything happens for a reason. Though I’ve doubted Him, He always comes through at the end and my faith grows stronger everyday.”

—Senior Saumalama Lulio

“Wicca is a really free, nature based religion that incorporates witchcraft into its practices. It’s really open, and it’s basically live how you want to as long as it’s not hurting anybody else. And I like that. I think that it’s a good way to live. It’s not like black magic, like sacrificing goats and stuff like that. Most of it is mental, it’s not physical. You’re trying to make yourself feel better. So you can do potions and chants.You’re not making things appear, you’re trying trying to make the space around you – [to] make you feel like it’s a good space.  It’s very metaphysical.  I think [I have practiced for] about a year now. But I’ve been doing a lot of research. I’ve come a long way in a short time. I think that some people are deterred, because it’s one of those things that’s not very common. And there’s a lot of stereotypes and generalizations about witches and I think that’s pretty negative. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different.”

—Junior Cayley Cunha

“Religion is something that keeps you motivated and gives you a reason to live. Early in my life, it was a big part of me. But as I grew older, I didn’t really see a reason to believe it as much as before. To me, right now, it doesn’t seem too important. I’m usually pretty busy at school. It’s just not my priority right now.”

—Sophomore Eduardo Cuellar

“My four person family, my mom, my dad, my brother and I are not that religious. But my grandmother lived in a temple at one time, and still visits often. And even though we are all Buddhist, our views on the religion can vary from person to person. My grandmother believes in a lot of things that I don’t. Like reincarnation…She has a lot of strict practices. But for my four-person family, we only meditate for introspection and mental health benefits. And we say prayers, not as worships, but just to express gratitude.  A lot of my values come from philosophies of buddhism. While I try to be unbiased about my opinions, it’s inevitable [that religion] will affect me, at least a bit. I think religion is a set of beliefs that can’t necessarily be legitimately proven to be true but can also contain philosophies on how you can live your life.  It also seems to me that it is not necessarily the religion that defines your values, but what you take from it.  As I have seen, people following the same religion can be quite different, and people following different religions can be similar as well.

“Buddhism has also changed me as a person.  For example, when I was little I would meditate with my grandmother. The practice allowed my legs to become more flexible so I can sit in a full lotus position.”

—Sophomore Anson Nguyen

“I see a huge part of my life change in a positive way since I’ve become Christian. I feel more happy when I’m around those people, I feel relieved from the pain and sorrows and the negative stuff when I go to Church. I’m just trying to get better, to understand more about it. People say that we Christians, we look down on people, we think we’re the best, like being gay is a sin, like doing wrong stuff is bad. We’re trying to show that we’re all sinful, we all have problems in life and we all need to get better.”

—Junior Jason Cai

What does religion mean to you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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