Religious Tolerance

When it comes to faith, religion, and God I tend to be pretty much a free thinker. I am reasonably familiar with the basic tenants of most of the world’s major religions. I respect all of them. I support all sincere believers who practice moderate forms of their faith while respecting the rights of others to believe differently.

I do not claim a faith tradition myself. I was reared in a family that was racist, bigoted, and critical of anyone who did not believe exactly as they did. And they all claimed to be “born again Christians”!!

Their brand of Christianity seemed too radical for me. I credit that family experience with encouraging me to ignore “righteous” people who think they have exclusive knowledge of God’s will, and examine the facts for myself. That ultimately led to the views I have today.

For the record: I don’t think any particular faith has a lock on God. I simply don’t believe, for example, that a just and loving God would condemn most of the world’s population to everlasting damnation simply because they were born into a particular faith and brought up to believe in the wrong set of scriptures!

Since I am free of the dogma of a religion, I accept the moderate practitioners of any of the major faiths as equally Godly people. In spite of what the hate-mongers say a cornerstone of all major religions is peace, love and mercy. How could I, or anyone else, disagree with that? Hence I am no more critical of one set of the associated scriptures than another. I respect them all for what they are.

While I claim no particular faith tradition that does not mean that I necessarily must be an atheist. I am not! I just have a mind and want to use it to live in harmony with the rest of humanity. And I also think mutual respect, understanding, and support among different faith communities is preferable to religious bigotry. That is especially true in America where we have religious freedom that is the envy of much of the rest of the world. Sadly though, lately even we are beginning to allow religious fear-mongering to seep into our political process!

I want to re-emphasize that to command my respect religious practitioners must demonstrate respect for and tolerance of the faith, rituals, and practices of those of other religions as well as for those who claim no faith, or even believe there is no God. I am also particularly frustrated with people who try to inject their religion or intolerance of other believers or non-believers into public policy. I consider that Un-American and not who we are. And it’s even unconstitutional!

I am pleased to find that there is a healthy inter-faith community (Interfaith Association of Central Ohio) here in central Ohio. I have become marginally engaged in that so far. I am encouraged by the mutual respect and support shown by the members who come from across the religious spectrum. That by itself is a blessing to any community.

I do not plan to write much more on the subject of religion. However I will gladly respond respectfully to honest questions or challenges to my thinking. If religious bigots or political predators initiate a serious or sustained abuse campaign against Muslims I may have to change my mind about addressing those hate-mongers. I hope that does not happen but from the political rhetoric of some Republican presidential candidates it looks possible at this point in time.

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