Like you, I have come to a place where I can appreciate and respect that faith plays an important role for many people in my life. It was not an easy place to come to, because I dealt with spiritual abuse throughout my childhood. Whether it was being sent to a “boarding school” situation with fundamentalist Mormons by a self-proclaimed prophet when I was six or being dragged around to a score of different churches to find the one true church by a fanatical mother, I’ve been through the ringer. In the end, I have personally made different conclusions than my beloved people who turn to religion. My conceptions of how we got here and how the universe exists are not rooted in Bronze Age belief systems, but instead influenced by Carl Sagan and other physicists. Nonetheless, I see how my friends gain strength and hope from their beliefs, and I accept them. I have many Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist friends, for example.
I have personally gained a great deal from Buddhism in my mental health. I respect that their beliefs don’t have to be confining and negative, because I’ve seen them used to be affirming of social justice and personal peace of mind. It took a while not to be bitter and anger toward the concept of religion as a whole, but I actually have an easier time accepting a person’s faith than I do accepting people who choose conservative beliefs that are at the detriment of others.
If a faith leads to conservative beliefs, I usually don’t do well with that. That is a personal attack on me, because of everything I endured. Conservative views toward people in poverty should align with religious teachings about helping the poor, instead they persecute. It made life horrifying. It killed my brother. I don’t know how to turn that off. I imagine because of the vile things spewed toward the GLBT community, it might be similarly hard for this set of beliefs to be accepted by gay people, but I can’t speak for them.