Can You Be Religious And Still Respect Unconventional Spiritual Practices?
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Season 10 of Basketball Wives has been full of surprises and drama, of course. In the latest episode of the reality series, the opportunity to meet a pair of real-life witches both surprised the group of ladies, and created drama between them.

It all started when show vet Jackie Christie invited most of the ladies on a girls getaway to a desert-like locale to help her do research for a movie role she wants. In a scene from Monday’s episode, she took DJ Duffey, Brandi Maxiell, and British Williams on an outing that she shared little information about as they made their way there. When the women arrived, they were surprised to find out it was a visit with some witches. Christie’s hoping to bag a movie role as a witch, so she wanted to sit down with practicing witches to get a better feel of who she needed to become to effectively carry out the role. The outing didn’t go as planned, however, because Brandi flipped out when she realized what was about to go down. 

After making a scene that involved publicly scolding Jackie and trying to get one of the other women to leave with her, she walked off saying, “I don’t do witchcraft. I don’t do that. I’m saved by the blood of Jesus!” While she wasn’t wrong for choosing not to participate, she could have declined more respectfully and turned the dramatics down a notch. A simple “no thank you” and waiting for everyone in the car would have sufficed. Also, I think her automatically correlating witchcraft with devil worship was telling and shows an inability to be open and curious beyond the stereotypes she’s heard about it. 

I am currently agnostic, if I must place myself in a box, and it gives me the space to see and explore all religious practices with an open mind. I find witchcraft pretty fascinating as a Nigerian woman of Yoruba descent, because it’s a part of my heritage. African witchcraft wasn’t always criminalized—colonialism played a part in that. In my exploration phases, I question why it’s painted as such a terrible thing? Witchcraft is synonymous with evil intent, but practicing witches will tell you, that is not always the case. Movies and tales aside, one of the fundamentals of African witchcraft, in particular, is paying homage to ancestors. And yes, witches have the power to harm and heal, but don’t we all?

I grew up in a Celestial church, also known as a white garment church, and it feels like a hybrid of catholic, pentecostal, and methodist beliefs sprinkled with some elements of the Yoruba religion. Many of the practices in Celestial churches tend to be ritualistic. I’m talking sleeping in the middle of seven lit candles and seven fruits for 24 hours; using candles, incense and holy water to summon the holy spirit; and bathing naked in the ocean at midnight for deliverance. When I was in my late teens, I became born again and along with my deliverance came a judgment and borderline condemnation of those spiritual practices I was once immersed in. As a born-again pentecostal Christian, I felt as though that version of Christianity was ritualistic and borderline witchcraft, which had to be evil. All that to say, that version of me might have overreacted too. The open-minded version of me understands we all experience God in different ways and many times, our ultimate goal is the same: to feel seen, to demystify this life we all find ourselves in but don’t often understand, and to experience love.

While nobody has to tolerate or be open to anything outside of their belief system, I think it’s beneficial to understand something before you demonize it. And that understanding shouldn’t only come from what a pastor said on a pulpit or what you’ve seen in movies like Hocus Pocus. I do not think religious people have to accept these other spiritual practices, agree with them or practice them, but I think respecting other people’s spiritual expressions is fair unless you plan to only have relationships with individuals who share the same beliefs as you. 

In conclusion, brethren, I think the job of religious people is not to judge, but to love, and no that doesn’t mean compromising your values or changing your mind. It does, in my opinion, mean seeing the world from lenses other than your own and respecting people’s differences, especially when they aren’t harmful to you.  

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