Diverse and deviant: religions to consider around Georgia State

We have been told since grade school that college is the time to find yourself. We are expected to walk out of the doors of graduation knowing exactly where we are going and who we are going to be. However, to family or long-time friends, the person leaving the building might not be the same person who entered it several years ago. As infants, we are often born into the religion our family believes in. But, when we move away and experience a new lifestyle, we develop our own belief system. Be it the religion you grew to know and follow, or a different path you found along the way, the indisputable truth is you will always believe in what you truly believe.

Whether it is a higher power, practicing positivity, or nothing at all, these Georgia State students have found a peace of mind within their beliefs. The Signal hopes their journeys inspire you to find your own inner strength and finally close a hole of void in your life.

Accepting who you are on the inside means being fearless in defending your beliefs in situations you would normally rather avoid. For some, during their journey of finding out who they are, facing their family about their new-found beliefs is unthinkable. However, for the brave few that take a dip in an unfamiliar water, they often find their relieved soul awaiting them.

Sai Maddalli, a freshman, said it was through a mutual connection he found himself.

“I was first introduced to the religion I am today because of my girlfriend. She wanted to go to church on Sunday morning. Being her only ride, I decided I’d tag along and see what it was about. I was fascinated at the ideas, the culture, and the processes. Over time, I learned more and more and read the religious scriptures and I became passionate as well. It was a small seed, but I decided I wanted to be baptized and join,” Maddalli said.

While becoming baptized is a huge, rewarding step into the journey of Christianity, to Maddalli it also meant facing the common struggle of explaining his conversion to his fully Hindu family. But Maddalli knew pursuing what he believes is right would benefit him in accepting who he truly is.

“This was the first time I felt spiritual and the first time I felt like I could believe in a religion so that was truth in itself for me. Switching from Hinduism to Christianity was a decision many people opposed, but it was the right one for me. I keep specifying ‘for me’ because I think it’s incredibly important that religion is personal to each of us. Changing religions was hard, because my parents felt like I was telling them their beliefs were wrong; however, feeling spiritual made me feel religious and not ever worrying about the fact of which religion it was. I’m happy to have my spirituality and my own truth, while knowing that others feel the same way for their own,” Maddali said.

When hearing about a religion that believes in nothing, you might falsely discredit it with a pessimistic approach. However, Georgia State students find that believing in nothing gives you the power to determine your own energy and feelings.

Baris Kilic, freshman, believes (or maybe doesn’t?) just that.

“I’m an active nihilist. Active nihilism says nothing exists and you get energy from saying and doing nothing. We consider Buddhists passive nihilist because they don’t have any life forms in energy, in contrast He (Nietzsche) gets his full energy from nothing. So, he says ‘I believe in nothing, but I’m getting all my energy from nothing,’” Kilic said.

Our journey through life can expose us to many new things, and make us question the old. Carey Brock, Junior, has accepted that.

“I used to be a Christian, but I just like fellowshipping with everybody. I can’t say I have a religion now but just staying positive will lead me in the right direction. Hanging around positive people leads you to the right direction,” Brock said.

Stepping foot into college, you might feel undeniably passionate or completely undecided about your faith. Beliefs shape who you are as a person. Whether you believe in a higher power, or nothing at all, beliefs are a crucial part of the Western lifestyle. With a place of worship on every corner, you might feel unsure about your opinions on religion. It is no secret that Georgia State is a widely multicultural university. After two to eight years of classes, organizations, and socialization, by the time commencement rolls around, it is not surprising if your views on religion, or what you believe in change.

Alexander Klinkert, freshman, has found enough reason to question their place in organized religion.

“I’m not an atheist, but I don’t belong to any church or organization. I believe there is a God, but I don’t know which one it is or how to devote myself to it. I developed this [belief] through thinking and meditation. We’re all college kids—we’re all trying to figure out what’s going on,” Klinkert said.

While in America it is the normal to believe as you wish, the governments in other countries take a more involved approach. Because these officials enforce laws and regulate society, the norm is to obey and trust their pursuits.

Ling He, sophomore, has experienced this first hand.

“In China we don’t really have the right to believe in some extreme religion. It’s okay to believe in God or common religions but most people believe in the president of China. That’s how my parents educated me, and I believe most of the Chinese born students would think the same way I do. It represents the minority of the school,” He said.

If you decide religion is the right road for you, having passion and continuously exerting your faith shows your growing love for the belief. As mentioned, religion is not for everybody—but the students who have accepted a religion into their lives found it’s made them feel apart of something bigger than themselves.

Brandon Nijakowski, sophomore, uses religion to inspire him.

“[Christianity] grew on me as I got older and going through experiences. I’m first in my family to go to college and I just feel like God has got this plan for me. I’m just trying to stay away from bad temptations,” Nijakowski said.

Sam Kalnitz, sophomore, has found resolve in his religion as he’s grown in college.

“I am Jewish. It’s very based on unity. There’s definitely not many Jewish people here (at Georgia State) but it doesn’t matter. You meet new people here and you see how they react to it and how strong they are, and you take a look at yourself and say ‘You know what? You believe in what you do and just be you.’”

Whether you want to embrace your religion and relate to the interviewee, or are currently searching to find out your inner beliefs, we hope this article broadened your knowledge on the various religions circulating at Georgia State.