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photo: Marissa Pina, Vivala

We’re in an election year, which means plenty of right-winged candidates have appealed to the conservative Christian community in a way that makes me question what exclusion-promoting Bible they read from. (Ahem, even Pope Francis agrees building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico is not the Christian thing to do.) Most of the time the media portrays Christians as judgmental or traditionalists who don't have any fun and damn everyone to hell. It’s not the Christianity I know and it is definitely not who I am.

Even though that image of Christianity is not representative of who I am, I want to defend my faith because I don't want people to assume anything negative about me or my faith. Fortunately, when people meet me they’re able to be themselves since I make every effort not to give off a critical vibe. But I do get perplexed looks when I say I’m a Christian as if my short(ish) dress or the fact that we’re hanging out in a bar has completely thrown them off. But that’s been my life, being a Christian does not mean I've lived a life in seclusion since my faith has been more about who I am than where I am.

Related From Vivala: What It’s Like to Be a Pastor’s Kid

I grew up in the church and my faith has been a part of me my whole life. Over time I’ve heard some outlandish assumptions about what I must believe based on people’s interaction with a few (or many) radicals. I’m really against generalizing an entire group of people, which is why I can only speak for myself with this list, but here are nine things I WISH people would never say to me.