Monday, November 23, 2015

Respect for All Religions

For peace and harmony to exist in any pluralistic society, it is important to have respect for all religions. Those who wish to be respected must also show the same respect for others. In the past, religion has acted as a great dividing line and has spurred and continues to provoke among some incidents of violence and hatred. We must learn to respect other religions, but what does this respect involve?

1. It means to respect fellow humans as humans, first of all, as our neighbors. It means to show ourselves as good neighbors to them.
2. It means to respect the religiosity in humans, their quest, their pursuit for spirituality, for purity, for a good life, for a transcendent ideal that lifts us above the world of mere brutes.
3. It means to respect the confessions of saints, of communities, regarding their longing to know the unknown, to be delivered from darkness to light.
4. It means to respect their literature of wisdom and deep meditation on serious life truths.
5. It means to respect their freedom of choice, their convictions, their freedom of conscience and not consider them inferior for their choice or for any changes they make in their convictions on the basis of proper reasons.
6. It means to respect their attempts to rationally (not disrespectfully or violently)  communicate their understanding of their beliefs to people.
7. It means to respect them as invaluable members of human society and consider each individual as precious.

But, it does not mean:
1. To think that all contradictory views are equally true. This is illogical.
2. To try to justify oppressive and discriminatory elements in religions.
3. To syncretize or try to blend religions into a new religion. It solves nothing.
4. To keep away from trying to understand faiths of people.
5. To stop sharing your faith with others, if you believe it is true and will help individuals, society, and the nation.

I don't think religious tolerance is the main issue. The main issue is to learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of their religion.

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