Why We Shouldn’t Question Another Person’s Religion

Religion confusion

Religion is not stubborn ignorance in the face of science. Religion is a different way of understanding the world, of coping with our inescapable sufferings, with our unavoidable death, of establishing principles and values to guide us in life. While I am not particularly religious myself, I am bothered when intelligent people, usually of scientific or left-wing leanings, dismiss other people’s beliefs or criticize them openly. This world is big enough for Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Atheists (with a big A), don’t you think?

As human beings, we have a spiritual side to us, a side that longs for something more than reason, more than logic can provide. I would say this side is somewhere in our brains, but you don’t have to agree with me. In some this spiritual side is more developed than in others. Atheism itself, I would say, is a kind of religion of non-religion, which uses denial to affirm itself. Again, you don’t have to agree. We can’t really condense anything into a one-sentence definition – things are always more complex than that.

“Knowing my attitude to myself and to the world outside me is what I call truth. And so everyone can have his own truth and yet it remains the self-same truth.” – Goethe

When we question or criticize another person’s religion, even if it’s on solid grounds, we are trespassing into a very private place of that person’s individuality. Even if that person is our friend or relative, that does not make the intrusion any less unpleasant.

Religion is not necessarily a choice. It is often much deeper than that, something which can grow and flourish of itself, and which can be nourished by many factors, including our family background, social standing, education, experiences, and so much more. To use our reasoning to question or deny another person’s religion is to disregard all those uncontrollable factors – essentially, the context in which that religion emerged. It is to fluff our feathers quite unnecessarily.

For my part, I am drawn to the beautiful simplicity of Buddhism, though I do not embrace all that Buddhism proposes. Ritual practice, in general, leaves me cold, though I find meditation quite agreeable. What I especially like about Buddhists is their peacefulness and their acceptance of other religions. They do not say “You must be either this, or that,” but rather “You are everything. You are wonderful.”

Religion can make people kinder, more considerate, happier. It can also have the opposite effect, of course. You don’t need me to repeat the news. But we both know that this is true in all matters of life, that there is probably about as much good in this world and in ourselves as there is bad.

I can understand that denying another’s religion is a way for some people to affirm their own religion. But surely there are better ways to reinforce one’s belief than by rejecting another’s.

Ultimately, religion is a personal matter for every one of us. Questioning another person’s religion is unnecessary and I don’t think anything good can come out of it. It can only lead to polemics and disagreeable situations, and often beautiful friendships can be lost because of our own ego or intellectual stubbornness.

“I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Whether you are a Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Pagan, or of any other creed, I am pleased to meet you.

*

Are you religious? Is it possible for you to uphold your religion without denying other religions? Or is that denial intrinsic in your belief?

 

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22 thoughts on “Why We Shouldn’t Question Another Person’s Religion

  1. Interesting topic you picked. James said: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (1.27) I don’t believe in religion, I believe in a relationship with the greatest power in the universe.

  2. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6. If you are going to accept Christianity, you will necessarily deny others. If you uphold Muslim, you deny other religious beliefs as well. I do not practice religion, per se: but I do practice Faith as taught by Jesus Christ; The more you try to disprove the Bible, the more one winds u proving it is the Word of God.

  3. I agree with you wholeheartedly! I couldn’t have put my thoughts down better than you have. 🙂 My throat’s gone sore repeating this to people. Now I’ll just make them read your post. 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for this post. Up till date I find it extremely difficult to tell others I am Christian without being judged on my intellectual capabilities. This sums it up altogether. Your writings are alway so cohesive, it is something i strive to have. Awesome read!

      1. Hi there, I live in Singapore:). I’m sorry I’ve taken so long to get back to you :(. I believe it’s a culture thing as long as you’re an active netizen. As everywhere is becoming more internet connected and secular, I feel that trending media that’s related to religion has influenced cultures to shun religions in general.

  5. Oh dear, you said it! And your way of saying is, as always, so wonderfully intimate and transparent. I am happy to own everything you said, except the paragraph where you share your idea about choice and determination. Perhaps we may eliminate some of the factors of shaping one’s faith and arrive at a more focused conclusion or no conclusion at all. With my deep admiration and love – Asok

  6. I think , if we see the roots of religion, it began with interest and beliefs. People with common beliefs grouped togther and game it a name which they called their religion. Religion just shows the diversity in thoughts and visualisations, which is quite obvious to vary so widely.
    As fas as I am concerned, I don’t categorise myself into any religion. I am a free human who loves the variety in opinions of all religions. True that surroundings germinate the seeds of religion but it could not do this with me.
    Either I belong to all religions or to the none.

    1. I think it’s a privilege not to have one’s parents or environment define one’s religion, but have the opportunity to explore and understand the religions around us, don’t you think so Tamanna? We’re lucky. 🙂

  7. A wonderful post , I was reading all the comments here too, It’s nice that there are soo many like minded people. I have been battling this question for long time too

    The surroundings, cultural differences , the up bringing, all play a vital role in shaping the image of ones religion/faith as also to one persons understanding of others faith . I think all religion or any faith preaches the same ” Be good and Do good ” its the narrow human minds that attach various other(selfish) attributes to that basic preaching . Sadly some get carried away with it and the over all idea of having “faith” is lost . What’s more worse is that a lot of people are turning “religious” but not truly “connecting” with the Higher Being – be it in any faith .

    Nice post and thanks for sharing this – glad to know your thoughts 🙂

  8. Loved you post. I have always got jitters whenever I heard the word Religion. Because of the ongoing scenario I have been blaming it on the religion that has been dividing people. In reality it is people who take it way too seriously! I think religion was created to control people with fear and now that fear is ruling most of us (radicalism?). Personally, I believe I am a child of Universe and I am directly connected with God or Higher Power and I don’t need any approvals or validation from any religious society. I was born Hindu but my first religious book was a Bible because I was curious and luckily my parents never posed any staunch ideas of religion on me that I should just follow Hinduism. I have read a lot about many religions and spiritual teachers and I am comfortable in calling myself Spiritual (than religious) as I love picking up teachings that resonate with me – regardless of who is telling that as I believe ultimately everyone is preaching about love, compassion, kindness and courage. I think that is the most important thing. We all are ultimately One. In time we would realise. 🙂

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