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Religious Tolerance

Believe it or not, we don't have to all believe in the same way and people who believe differently from you probably do so as passionately as you do with your beliefs. Finding common ground takes more effort, but sustains the process of open-minded, non-prejudiced treatment of others of different religions. Figure 3 shows a photograph of one of my favorite books. Written by Jeffrey Moses, "Oneness: Great Principles Shared By All Religions" and forwarded by Mother Theresa, this is truly a work of bridge-building between believers. In it Mr. Moses describes common beliefs and values which are articulated in the core doctrines and scriptures of many of the world and US religions. "Honor thy father and mother, be good to those around you, it is better to give than receive, and respect the elderly in your life" are just a few examples of common teachings from many diverse religions found in the book.

Figure 3. A "Common Ground" Approach to Other Religions by Jeffrey Moses

To take such an open-minded stance requires a concerted effort on our part. To be able to feel secure enough in our own beliefs to find acceptance in the beliefs others have takes devotion to our own faith and deep caring about the quality of the human experience in our many relationships. We mistakenly believe that we have strength in commonality when often there's just as much strength found in mutually-respected tolerance of different people who respect and honor one another..

Most people from most of the world's and US's religions share most beliefs in common. It's true, but we more often define ourselves based on differences not similarities. Most of us could peacefully live as next-door neighbors and peacefully co-exist. In fact, the more you talk to one another about your beliefs and the more you agree to accept one another and respect one another's free choice, the more understanding and tolerant you'll become. For example, there's a category of religions in the world called the Abrahamic Religions are those religions which trace their religious ancestry back through "Father" Abraham. Look at figure 4 below:

Figure 4. The Genealogy of the World's Abrahamic Religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity

2009 Ron J. Hammond, Ph.D.

Abraham had a wife named Sarah who could not get pregnant. She gave Abraham her handmaid, named Hagar, as a second wife. Hagar had Abraham's firstborn son, Ishmael. Ishmael and Hagar ended up in the wilderness and were miraculously preserved from exposure, dehydration, and starvation. Eventually, Ishmael would father 12 princes as his sons. From one of his sons, Mohammed was born, and with him, Islam or the Muslim religion.

Abraham eventually fathered a child with Sarah resulting in the birth of Isaac. Isaac fathered Jacob and Jacob fathered sons, including Judah. From the lineage of Judah came the Jewish religion and eventually Jesus Christ was born a Jew and began Christianity in all its forms. All three Abrahamic Religions combined account for about 55 percent or 3,685,000,000 people. Father Abraham was promised by God that his descendants would eventually inherit a piece of land called Canaan which had about the same land mass as New Jersey and is called Israel in our day. Christians, Muslims, and Jews have battled and argued over this holy land for centuries and do to this day. I often tell my students that the prophecy stated that Abrahams descendants would inherit the land, not get along together once they did.

Another major genealogical origin of world religions is called Indian Religions are those which originated from the Sub-Asian continent of India. Though the record of these religious origins is a bit more vague than found with the Abrahamic religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism are major world religions which represent about 1,300,000,000 people today.

There are a classification of religions that sociologists use to distinguish them based on beliefs and rituals. Simple Supernaturalism has no gods, but focuses on human & non-human supernatural forces which influences us for better or worse. Animism also has no gods, but focuses on good or evil spirits which inhabit animals, rocks and/or people and animals (Simple supernaturalism and Animism underlie Japanese Animism plot structure and themes).

Theistic Religions have divine beings which are Gods. There are three Monotheistic Religions. Monotheistic Religions are religions that have one single all powerful God: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

Polytheistic refers to religions with multiple Gods such as Hinduism. About 2/3rds of all people of the world worship in a theistic manner.

Abstract Ideals refers to religions that focus on sacred principles and thoughts which guide our lives and typically have no divine beings in charge of the world and universe. Buddhism is an example of an abstract ideal religion.

Date: 2015-02-28; view: 186

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