Religious Tolerance = World Peace
Article ID: 11189
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,612
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Author: Dessa Blackthorn [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: February 25th. 2007
Times Viewed: 2,439
I was reading an article about a young man who had converted to Islam and was readying himself for the Ramadan holiday. He talked about his former Christian life and how he felt compelled to convert to another religion, how he studied this religion intensely, even going as far as traveling to Saudi Arabia where Muhammad had written the Koran. He spoke of his new religion with a passion found in people who have found the form of religion that resonates with them and helps them to become a better person through their religion.
This young man also spoke of the discrimination in America toward Muslim people. The way the article was written, I would be inclined to believe that this young man would never have in his mind to become a suicide bomber or terrorist, yet the general consensus toward Muslims in this country is that they cannot be trusted and they are all potential suicide bombers and evil hateful people who take out their frustrations and hatred on innocent Christians.
The more I read about such misunderstandings about other religions, the more I realize that if people were to educate themselves about other religions, the greater the chance would be to have real “world peace”! Many wars are fought as a result of religious misunderstanding. Many people have died as a result of religious misunderstanding. I’m beginning to think the whole world is going into a hysteria about religion...again, only this time instead of burning the Witches, people are focused on the Muslims and their Islamic teachings.
What people fail to understand is that like any religious affiliation, there are bad apples who are taught that hatred and death are what their God wants! Al Qaida and the Taliban are similar in their beliefs to White Supremacists, believing their God will give them glory in Heaven if they kill every non-believer in sight and this is a deep seated belief which no one is able to convince them otherwise. These religious cults are dangerous not only to the people outside of the cult, but to those inside as well. So what can we do?
As a Witch, I still find people recoiling at the sound of the word “witch” until I take time to explain to them what exactly being a Witch means and the discipline it takes to not retaliate against someone for wronging you. A Witch who is developed in his or her skills is just as dangerous as a car bomb should his or her energy be directed toward harming another person.
But a good Witch also knows that this harm will come back three (or more) fold, and frankly, I am more wary of the here and now than the afterlife or the next life. I have to live with whatever choices I make and if I make bad choices, then I pay the price for those choices and I’m not wanting to find out just what Karma would have in store for me should I harm someone!
Once I explain to someone about basic beliefs and answer the silly questions about spell-casting and “flying” on brooms, people feel more relaxed and are less apt to make rash judgments about Pagan, Wiccan, or nature-based religions.
For a long time now, I have been on a path to helping people better understand me and the religion I follow, and when the American people first started Muslim-bashing, I actually thought that taking the focus off the Pagan folk was a relief. I realized though that even though the Muslims are getting a lot of negative attention, that didn’t mean that anyone who disliked Pagans had changed their mind, they just put us at the wayside until the Muslims disappear from the radar and they are better able to scrutinize us under a new microscope.
The only way we can truly have peace in this world is if we stand our ground and not contribute to the misunderstandings and hatred toward our kind.
The funny thing about the people who verbally bash Witches and discriminate against us and other nature-based religions, is that their ancestors from way back were probably Pagan in some form or another!
When I was a Christian, I was led to believe that Christianity had been around since the beginning of time, since Adam and Eve. The Christian God made the world and everything in it and we were to worship and love Him with all our heart. Not once in all those years was I ever told that Christianity has only been around for a little over 2, 000 years and that the story of the beginning was similar to the story that every religion told.
I don’t particularly like the fact that I was misled and lied to and threatened in order to behave like a good little girl. To this day, people are lied to so that others might control them. People are not given the ability to be accountable for themselves and people are taught that anyone who is different is bad and not to be trusted.
In my town, I have seen the fire being spit out from the mouths of Christians toward the Wiccan community. Sheer hatred comes out of their mouths because they are taught that unless you worship their one and only God, then you will burn in hell and they say awful hateful things. That is what causes religious intolerance to fester and grow like a boil.
As a Witch, I am accountable for myself and for what I present and teach to others. If I act hatefully toward another religion or race, then it reflects on the whole Pagan community. If I act in a loving manner and try to educate people who are ignorant, or to those who have been lied to about what I am or what I believe in, then that helps to raise the ideas and respect toward us.
Religious tolerance is difficult, but not impossible!
I live in a household with two Witches and a Baptist. We respect each other’s beliefs and don’t put each other down for what and how we worship. It’s not easy at times, but we don’t love each other any less for what each of us believes in and we hope to set an example for others that multi-religious communities can be established where everyone works together to make a better life for the whole community!
I think if we not only educate others about our beliefs but also learn about the beliefs of others, then we are better able to tolerate each other.
If Islam or Christianity or Paganism or whatever the belief makes someone a better person for society, then it is a good thing for them and should not be disrespected or discriminated against because it is not what we believe!
Religious tolerance for all religions will be the foundation for world peace!
Reference to young man in the first paragraph from "Muslim Convert observes Ramadan" by Caryle Murphy of the Washington Post, Sept 22, 2006
Location: Mountain Home, Arkansas
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