Experiencing Other Faiths to Find One’s Own

NPR’s Morning Edition ran an interesting piece a couple days ago. Correspondent Judy Woodruff has been speaking to members of Generation Next. In this case, she spoke to them about religion.

One student, Gillian Siple of Davidson College in North Carolina, spoke about how even though she was raised as a Christian, she felt a urge to explore other faiths. She is pursuing a religion major, after all.

What led her to learn about other religions? Here’s what Gillian said in the piece:

In my church growing up, there was a Sunday School teacher… I remember him coming up to me one day. I had come home from college and was preparing to go to study abroad and he asked me, “Why would you want to go and study these religions of the world? You could attend my class and I would tell you they’re all wrong.”

I was so shocked by the comment, and I thought, that’s exactly why I want to go out and learn from other people who practice these other religions.

For what it’s worth, Gillian’s Christian faith is now stronger than ever as a result of the exploration. However, her self-description of what she believes in wouldn’t gel well with the popular denominations.

Siple calls herself a Christian pluralist, open to the possibility of the validity of other religious traditions.

Let’s hear a (non-Generation Next) pastor promote that line of thinking on a Sunday morning…

Woodruff said that in previous generations, religion was generally inherited from one’s parents and accepted without question. But Generation Next sees religion as a choice; there’s a lot of mixing and matching going on.

It might be too much to ask that Gen Next will take just the good parts out of many religions and ignore the crazy parts… but it’s certainly an optimistic vision for the future.

Listen to the segment by going here. Do it. It’s not even eight minutes long!


[tags]NPR, Morning Edition, Judy Woodruff, Generation Next, religion, Gillian Siple, Davidson College, North Carolina, Christian, church, Sunday School, Christian pluralist, atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • txatheist

    I like the pluralistic mentality she has gained. I’m also hoping she goes back and speaks to that sunday school teacher that made such a egocentric comment. I hope to travel abroad someday and envy that opportunity she was able to get.

  • Shana

    I did hear this segment, and I thought it was great that she had broadened her horizons a bit. However, I find the idea of Christian pluralism very illogical….it seems to me like it’s just a way of justifying her faith by proclaiming that she’s more tolerant than other Christians. How can she firmly believe all of the tenets of Christian faith but still be open to thinking that other faiths may be correct? Wouldn’t that just mean she believed in a generic God and perhaps be an agnostic believer? I guess Christianity to me is defined as believing in God (the God of Abraham) and also believing that Jesus died on the cross, etc. etc. How can that be true if other religions are true as well? Does anyone else have an opinion on that? I’m curious.