Everyone has a religion even if it is the assertion that there is nothing in which to have faith.
But when a person embraces a faith, it is because he perceives truth in it.
The obvious reply to the question “If I disagree with someone else’s religion, why should I study it?” is the question “How do you know you disagree if you haven’t studied it?”
The proper response to “disagreement” in anything is to get more information, and one gets more information by studying and asking honest questions.
A few months ago I was visiting my church’s Florida headquarters from Northern California to do Scientology courses and counseling.
I called an Uber driver because I needed a ride to pick up some things at the pharmacy and didn’t have a car.
He was a very nice man. We chatted amiably. Then he offered to take me past the church headquarters as a sightseeing activity, as we were close by.
I told him that would be great and asked if he had ever gone into the church. He told me no, that he did not want to be abducted. (???!!!)
There was a pause as I debated whether or not to make him uncomfortable.
I told him I was a Scientologist and would not know what to do with him if it ever crossed my mind to abduct him.
There was the inevitable awkward pause and finally I said: “Look, you obviously have questions. Do you want some real answers?”
He was so relieved. He did want real answers, but fearmongers had made him hesitate to walk into a church and ask.
“Political correctness” pushes the idea that it is impolite to ask anyone about personal things like religion, but most people don’t actually mind answering honest questions as long as they are honest questions and don’t lead to ridicule or attack.
By the end of the ride we were buds and he stated that he was going to pull out his old copy of Dianetics and give it another look.
In short, he was going to find out for himself rather than be a “skeptic” or rely on the rumors of others.
Frankly, the idea that being skeptical makes you smart is completely backward. It means that you have not taken the time to find out or that you, for whatever reason, refuse to believe what you have observed.
For when you find out about other religions, you will see that we agree on much more than we disagree.
Almost every religion has the idea that we are spiritual beings worthy of hope, love and compassion.
Almost every religion believes that helping others is laudable and one should do it freely.
Almost every religion has beautiful traditions and rituals and music.
And almost every religion has its power to inspire and uplift, whether you are in St. Patrick’s Cathedral at Christmas tearing up from the choir, the candles and the immense beauty of the whole scene, or whether you are in a synagogue or mosque feeling the community of spirit during prayer.
Every religion I know of celebrates the good and kind in ourselves and our neighbors. Religions celebrate who we really are.
The religious should not be attacked. They should, at the very least, be left to worship as they see fit.
Religion recognizes that we are all one under the skin that clothes our bones. That is the greatest and most important commonality we have. We need religion to remind us of that from time to time.