Abstention

You can force me to my knees

And order me to pray;

You can offer to cleanse me

And wash my sins away.

.

You can read me passage after passage,

And verse after verse;

You can tell me what's sinful

And glare when I curse.

.

You can preach and preach

Until your throat is hoarse;

You can lecture me on how

I should feel guilt and remorse.

.

But I will never feel guilt

For being what I am.

.

I am a sinner.

I am human.

.

My sins exist between me

And the people I have hurt.

And I don't need to be told

When to feel guilt or remorse.

.

I do not want you to wipe my slate clean,

Or tell me what the scriptures really mean.

.

Who gave you the right?

.

Who gave you the right to tell me

What to believe?

Who gave you the right to tell me

Where to seek reprieve?

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And who gave you the right

To interpret words allegedly so holy,

As words of instruction – telling you

That my life

Is your business,

And everyone else's business too?

.

And tell me who gave you the right

To throw stones and make judgments,

Purely because I refuse your rites,

Your gospels, your ceremonies

And prayers?

.

Shall I tell you who I pray to?

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I pray to humanity.

.

I pray to goodness,

And human grace,

And humility

With a human face.