Religion’s Sword

Religion is a doubled-edged sword. It is sometimes used to help heal, and sometimes used as a weapon. It can be the cause of great harm or great help. Wars have been fought over it, and lives have been saved by it. Sometimes people or groups are made to feel ‘less equal’ (see gay rights, the Chick-Fil-A debacle, etc.), while some people feel great love, and are able to use their beliefs as a way to reconcile almost anything that happens to them.
The tragedy in Wisconsin prompted many to look into Sikhism. Though it’s an awful tragedy, one of few bright spots is that people who care enough to know and understand more about the world’s religions will endeavor to do so.
About 86% of the world’s population claims some sort of religious belief. Of course some of these religions disagree vigorously on basic concepts, which can be a significant problem at times, but many of them are relatively tolerant of one another. Many of those who do claim a religion don’t practice it, so the statistics for those who actually adhere to their religions is no doubt much lower…but it’s still a very significant number, especially in the United States, as well as a number of other countries around the world.
Given this data it makes sense to learn about and understand at least the basic beliefs of many of the worlds religions. This is part of their culture, of who they perceive themselves to be. If we would reach out and try to respectfully meet them on their terms of understanding it’s probable that a great deal of peace could be restored in the world. If you have a religion you believe in it makes sense to try to understand what other’s believe. The assumption that you’ve got it right and have it all worked out without some due diligence on your part seems naive, or even arrogant. Even if you hate religion and believe it to be the cause of many of the world’s problems (an assertion that can be effectively argued) it still behoves you to have a deeper understanding of it. If you ignore that it’s a big part of many people’s lives then you’re at a disadvantage when dealing with those people and it’s likely your relationships with them will be degraded in one way or another.
No matter whether you agree, or love it or hate it, the fact is religion is a powerful force in our culture. Deal with it.
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