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Dear friend,

I believe in religious tolerance.

1. Why religious tolerance?

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To me, it confuses the shit out of me how people still kill one another, hate each other, imprison one another, and hold others down — just because of religious differences.

I do believe in religious freedom. Everyone having the power and the freedom to express their religion, however they want— as long as they are not actively harming anybody else.

2. Religious tolerance vs equality

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In religion, tolerance vs equality is a tricky topic.

  • Tolerance: Look at others with different religions, and just don’t bother them.
  • Equality: Look at all religions as equal.

For me, I am Roman Catholic. I was baptized Catholic, was raised in mostly protestant churches, then went back to the Catholic church. Since then, I have studied a lot of other religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Stoicism (kind of a religion), Zen (not really religion, but similar enough), Islam, and Judaism. To me, I see all religions of the world as the branches of the same tree. I see the trunk of the tree are equal values of love, compassion, forgiveness, justice, and human equality.

I respect whatever religion others have. If people have other religious beliefs that don’t harm me, who am I to tell them otherwise?

Whether you believe in religious ‘tolerance’ or ‘equality’ — just treat others with love, respect, kindness, compassion, and understanding. What Cindy has taught me is that understanding is the first step towards love.

3. I first need to change my own preconceived notions

The biggest thing I’ve tried to do (to overcome my own prejudice of other religions and beliefs) is the following:

Don’t try to convince others that their religion is wrong. Rather, just ask them the question: “What are the common misconceptions of your religion?” Let them share their ideas, don’t interrupt them, and seek to understand others and their religion.

I’ve learned so much about other religions this way.

4. All the same God

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The funny thing — most Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions praise and worship the same God. Why do we kill one another — just because we believe in different prophets, and we praise God in a different way?

To me, I see all religions as different body parts. Judaism is the left arm, Christianity is the right arm, Islam is the head, and the chest is Buddhism. Why would the right arm try to kill the head? Why would the left arm try to kill the chest?

We are all the same body. Humanity is all the same body.

Would you cut off your left arm, or chop off your own head?

No.

And of course, I am vastly generalizing — not all religions (Hinduism, and many others) don’t believe in the same 1-monotheistic God. There are still many polytheistic (many God) religions.

Conclusion

I’m still always trying to learn and understand other religions, and view-points. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to admit my own ignorance (like Socrates). Socrates once said something like, “I am wise because I know that I know nothing.”

For me, I think: “I am wise, because I know that I know a lot less than I actually do.” To be truly wise, I need to wipe away the smoke-screens of my false reality and prejudices.

So today, talk to someone with a different religion from you. And ask them:

What are the common misconceptions of your religion? I’m asking you, because I’m seeking to better understand.

Open up your hearts friends.

Always,
Eric