Years ago, I attended a religious study group meeting with a friend. I did not belong to the church affiliated with the group, but they welcomed guests of different faiths. While there, I was told by two group leaders that I, along with all of my Catholic family and friends was doomed to hell; this sparked several questions amongst the group about different religious beliefs. Finally, the group leaders simply asked me to leave.
At the time, I was nine years old and afraid for myself and my family. After thinking about the situation, I decided that I disagreed with this view and that no one had the authority to condemn myself or anyone else. Even now, years later I am still stunned by the complete lack of respect these people had for anyone’s beliefs but their own. This experience opened my eyes to religious differences and prejudices.
I believe in religious tolerance. Every person has their own unique set of beliefs and ideals. It is not important that we understand the beliefs, or the person, but that the holder of those beliefs is a human being. It is important to see past any religion to the reason it is so important. It helps keep morals and ethics at the forefront of our lives, and guides us in making good choices and decisions.
I believe that it is possible to have too strong a conviction. When we refuse to accept the possibility that we could be wrong, we lose respect for anyone with different beliefs, and place ourselves above others. This furthers the division already present between individuals as well as cultures. Now is not the time to exacerbate the difficulties cultures have relating to one another. It is imperative that we all attempt to maintain a sense of humility, as it goes hand-in-hand with tolerance.
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