Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Think tolerance. Think 'to each his own.'

I subscribe to the thought process of “to each his own.” Do what you want with your life, your choices, your faith. My moral compass works just fine, and if yours points in a different direction, well, who am I to say if yours is faulty. Just to clarify, there are some things – murder for instances – that should always point the same way on everyone’s compass. But in general, you are in control of your actions, and if it works for you, then it has to work for me.

But religion has a tendency to make people feel that they know what is best for everyone in every situation. That leads to judgment and intolerance without the perpetrator even realizing it. And what I didn’t realize until recently was that religious intolerance works across the board, even in an area overwhelmingly dominated by one religion. There’s always people discriminating for or against a religion, non-religion or sect.

Our Founding Fathers wanted to create a country where religion was open and free, and separate from government. That’s, of course, never been the case. And I’m not even sure we are working in that direction. Separation of church and state cannot occur. One can not separate religion from who they are or the decisions they make any more than he or she can change the color of his or her skin. The fallacy in all of it is that religion is a choice. If you choose to believe one way, then you don’t really believe it, do you?

So because of this, you can’t expect someone to make a personal, professional or public decision separate of their faith. It will be present in everything they do, always. So by faulting a person’s religious beliefs or choices made directly related to their faith, you are faulting them as a person. No wonder people take religious attacks so personally.

The lesson to take from all of this is to remember to love one another, which includes a person’s religious beliefs. And to please remember that someone with an opinion different from yours does not necessarily make them wrong. It just means they’re just coming from a different direction.

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