My post on the dancing in the aisles wedding prompted quite a response on Facebook (which, by the way, I now see where Gonch was coming from about the weirdness of syndicating your blog there... I'd much rather see the conversations happen on my blog where I can keep them forever). As it turns out, apparently Tyler's bigger issue was that it happened in a church.
I know I've blogged about stuff like this before, but the conversation brings me a little more clarity on my own feelings on this, so let me see if I can bring it around full circle.
First off, let's talk about religion and faith. Faith and spirituality is your belief system, that there is some higher power, some kind of unseen order to the cosmos, or whatever. The most awesome thing about faith is that it's something you wholly own, and it can never be taken away from you. You may choose to adhere to it, alter it or dismiss it in whatever way you see fit.
Religion is the practice of (allegedly) mutually agreed upon set of principles taken on faith in the context of an organization. In most cases it's based on centuries-old doctrines and codes passed down through the generations. Church, temple or whatever is the product of the religious organization first, faith second.
Every religious organization does things a bit differently. Christianity, the religion I'm most familiar with, is broken up into hundreds of denominations, and their approach to Christianity is vastly different. I grew up going to a Disciples church, which I would describe as a relatively light weight flavor of Christianity that tends to focus on the bigger picture aspects of most any religion. I had a couple of good pastors who were extremely non-conventional.
Going to college, of course, is where everything I "knew" about Christianity fell apart, where I was first introduced to extreme right-wing "Christians" that were only interested in tearing down anything that did not conform to their own views. I wondered how God could be OK with this, and why She would let these assholes be, well, such assholes. It all came down to a conversation between me, my hall director and my fellow RA's, one of whom was a Hindu from New Delhi. My hall director, in the most serious tone, told him he was going to hell, and he felt sorry for him.
You can imagine that my college activist mind was shocked and horrified at this. Fortunately, my Indian friend simply laughed it off, but I was never able to respect that hall director after that. A discussion ensued that distilled down to the simple fact that no religion can be proven as "correct" through any device other than faith, to which the RD simply said, "I have the right faith." Yeah, this was an allegedly educated person.
By the time I graduated, I had befriended Jews, Buddhists and Muslims, and probably because of that experience at that staff meeting, tried to learn what I could about their religions. What I ultimately got out of this was that they all had their ridiculous factions (except the Buddhists, as far as I could tell), and that these factions should not define the religion as a whole. So while these things eventually helped restore my faith in Christianity, it very much tainted my view of religious institutions, and as such, eventually settled on my own brand of faith that is based on Christianity, but without the overhead and dogma of an institution. This is the point that the distinction between faith and religion became crystal clear for me.
Later in life I was able to further make the distinction that organized religion isn't inherently bad; It's bad when people in it are bad. And it's at its worst when people adamantly get in the face of others to tell them that they're doing it wrong, which oddly enough goes back to that staff meeting my sophomore year.
The way people conduct themselves in religion is truly none of my business, as long as it's not hurting me or anyone else. So while we can all agree that Christians bombing abortion clinics or Muslims crashing planes is bad, the bulk of what people do as it concerns their religion is none of my concern. I don't care if gay people get married, or if others have arranged (adult) marriages, or practice ritualistic circumcision, dance down the aisle or anything else that doesn't fall into the categorically harmful things that hurt people.
I also don't care for people who make it their mission to recruit people to their way of thinking. My faith is my choice, and a choice we're all entitled to. We can arrive at that choice as we see fit. We are not entitled to force it down someone else's throat.
As for Tyler's post, he stated it as his opinion, which is fine. I don't take any issue with people believing what they believe. My issue is with anyone who believes that their own beliefs are the only correct ones. I know Tyler well enough to know he's not one of "those people" like my RD, and I don't even think he's close minded. I was only troubled that he'd extrapolate that the dancing wedding party's actions meant that they didn't take marriage, or the ceremony in the church, seriously. What matters for the newlyweds is not the religion, but rather the faith that they share.