Yallah Bakh Na

Elizabeth Schmidt - Senegal

April 20, 2015

Since I was about 10, I have been uneasy with calling myself a religious believer because I couldn’t believe that people could be all evil; surely everyone has at least one small beautiful spot in their hearts, and because I grew up with the idea that people always do the best they know how. Therefore I couldn’t believe that an all-knowing, loving, and merciful God could overlook the good in people and not realize that when they did wrong, they thought they were doing right, even if it was in a sort of confused, twisted way; I couldn’t believe in Hell, and I certainly couldn’t believe that only one religion made it possible to avoid going there and that all non-believers were doomed.

My place of worship, which doesn’t preach hellfire and doom, continued to be important to me, but I still didn’t care to take on a religious identity because as I studied more, I believed that the most important things in all religions that I encountered were the same: love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself; the parts that are different were just technicalities and history. After that it didn’t seem necessary to have one religion, because none really offered a unique benefit.

If you ask my Senegalese father about religion in Senegal, he’ll tell you, You can say that Senegal is 95% Muslim and 5% Christian

Elizabeth Schmidt