The Importance of Religious Tolerance In Our Society Today
We are in the age of electronic media and it has drawn us closer together – making the world into one global village. We are now living in a global society where all bits of information around the world can be accessed on the Internet. Although this can be a good thing for all of us, its benefits can only be felt when mutual respect and understanding prevails.
If hatred and restlessness emerge, then it’s not progress, but it’s something that will hinder us from achieving our ultimate goal – lasting peace and social stability. We need to understand that we are also in a time of globalization, where different types of people with varied cultures, religions and backgrounds are living together in one area. Our world has become more diverse and it became multicultural. It’s important that we establish tolerance, so as to foster harmony and understanding.
Without tolerance, especially religious tolerance, it’s impossible to maintain peace in a particular location or country for that matter. Loyalty and obedience cannot be established in a society without religious tolerance. These traits are borne from feelings of love and affection. When a citizen loves his country, he or she will exhibit devotion and loyalty and will endure sacrifices for the sake of that nation.
The Dangers of Religious Intolerance
Lack of tolerance can lead to violence, fighting, and it can destroy the security and peace in our society. When a group of people becomes intolerant, they often resort to aggression and they will use force to support their agenda.
We have seen incidents like these in recent history, where a group of people who are intolerant, have attacked people of other faiths. They have burned their places of worship and destroyed their communities. These unfortunate events can only be prevented when everyone tried to express themselves in a respectful and decent way with tolerance.
Through the efforts of Unesco in 1995, the worldwide celebration of the International Day for Tolerance had been declared, and its main goal is to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance. This will help people understand the importance of tolerance and remind them how crucial these values are.
The word tolerance simply means that we are willing to accept other people’s religion, behavior and opinions. It doesn’t mean that we agree with them, but we behave sensibly with those who are not like us. We show respect and we express our point of view in a respectful and decent manner.
In our global society today, there are various types of cultures, with different religious beliefs and behavior. As a matter of fact, there are about 2 billion Christians, 1 billion Muslims, 14 million Jews and around 150 million Atheists. These figures are according to Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. When so many people practicing different beliefs, it becomes extremely important to uphold religious tolerance and respect other people and their beliefs.
Why Religious Tolerance Is So Important?
Individuals who practice religious tolerance are more loving and trusting of their neighbors. The philosophy of religious tolerance doesn’t mean that you change your views in another religion, or to accept another faith as your own. Religious tolerance only means that you allow and respect others to practice their faith without interruption.
If you are more tolerant towards their beliefs, then you will not resort to harassment or discrimination. In a place where religious tolerance is non-existent, people find themselves as the target of disrespect, hatred and discrimination. Religious tolerance should start at home and parents are responsible to teach their children about it.
Kids should grow up as tolerant individuals and they must accept other people for what they are. These values begin at home, and it’s up to the parents to teach their children the proper respect and behavior when dealing with people in other religions.
The Role Of Parents In Religious Tolerance
Studies have shown that individuals who practice religious tolerance have learned it through their parents. Parents are able to provide their children with the most persuasive and comprehensive teaching. There are several factors at home that cannot be achieved at school. Among them is the fact that children trust and love their parents, and they spend more time at home than in any other place.
It’s crucial for parents to provide instructions on tolerance and not just rely on teachers, because you are the best source of information for your own child. Your impact on your child far exceeds any teacher or any other individual for that matter. If you are tolerant and understanding towards other people of different religions, then they will more likely adopt your beliefs and behaviors.
On the other hand, if your child grows up in an environment where you and other people are intolerant, your child will also adopt this behavior. Keep in mind that behaviors that you aren’t aware of can most likely influence your child. You need to be cautious and be more sensible in showing tolerance towards other people and their religious beliefs.
The Role Of Education
Another effective way of instilling religious tolerance is through proper education. Children can easily be misinformed about the nature of people and their religions. Misinformation can be acquired through television, friends, teachers, parents and the Internet. Religious tolerance can be adopted by people when they know the practices and beliefs of other religions. That is why, you need to educate yourself first about the many cultures and religions before you make an effort to teach your child about them.
You can present to your child a thorough, well-studied overview of different religious groups. Show them that they must respect these people even if they have a different belief than what you have. This philosophy will be adopted by your child, and he will be less likely to fall prey to misinformation and rumors that often float around regarding different religions.
If you want to get more information on how you can teach religious tolerance at home, you can simply visit religious communities in your area. Find support groups and join events that are designed to raise awareness on religious tolerance.
According to Alan Dershowitz: “When you discriminate against anyone, you discriminate against everyone. It’s a display of terrible intolerance.”
This is relatively true with religious intolerance and it breeds separation and chaos. That is why it’s important for us to be more tolerant and to live in peace and harmony among people with other religions and beliefs.
Threats to Freedom of Religion in a Democratic Society
Even though democratic, “free” countries like the United States guarantee that the government will not stand in the way of ones’ freedom to establish a religion and practice that religion as they see fit, there are still significant challenges to true religious freedom in practice – ones which the author would submit get overlooked by the majority of people out there.
In reading the comments on this site and others, I decided to write something out to elaborate some of the challenges to religious freedom that exist even in countries and societies where religion isn’t constrained by the law.
European Union Denounces Religious Discrimination
On the 21st of February, the European Union Council issued a new statement which essentially reaffirmed their earlier November 2009 conclusions condemning acts of discrimination based on religious beliefs. Whilst the statement specifically targeted acts of violence against Christians and their places of worship, as well as toward Muslim Pilgrims, the statement clearly attempts to guide member states to take action to engender the respect of the religious beliefs of others.
Clearly, though, it’s now up to these member states to actually put that into action, as more than just Christians have been the subject of much discrimination on the basis of religious belief. Whilst many European countries would seem to the uninformed outsider to be fair-treating of all religions, countries like France have discriminated against Muslims for simply wearing a burqa, or have discriminated against Scientologists for simply practicing their own religion.
So now, it is indeed up to those in power in EU member states to actually take this statement to heart, and put real-life steps into motion to factually ensure religious freedom for all European citizens.
Can the U.S. government officially protect Jewish students?
Jewish groups exert communal effort to get the U.S. Department of Education more deeply involved in probing allegations of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
By The Forward and Josh Nathan-Kazis
Are Jews an ethnic or a religious group?
This perennial question is now at the heart of a Jewish communal effort to get the U.S. Department of Education more deeply involved in probing allegations of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Thirteen national Jewish organizations have sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan arguing that the department’s Office for Civil Rights has adopted a policy that fails to protect Jewish students from antisemitic harassment on college campuses.