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With a lot of people that headline would have read “My faith is right, your faith is wrong.” Statements like that are the kind of thing that will make any reasonable person’s blood boil. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who believe those words. They think that whatever faith they follow is the only true faith and everything else is wrong.
Sensible people, however, understand that there are many paths to enlightenment and/or god. They understand that deity has many names, many faces, and will come to people in many forms. What truly matters is how you live your life and having faith in your heart. What name you call your faith or how you practice it are of little importance.
Personally, I think there are many valid faiths. The ideas and beliefs can get people on the path of right living. The problem exists when the religion is “organized”, requiring certain practices and ways of thinking, giving the practitioner no room for free thought or action. In my opinion, a valid religion allows and even encourages questioning and free thought. Knowledge is welcome and searched for, not shunned in favor of antiquated ways that no longer apply in modern times.
Not that all of the old ways are bad. Tradition certainly has its place. However, ideas were created by men and imposed into religion that have no place in current society. That’s what a lot of people forget. Books were written by people. Traditions were created by people. Therefore, the flaws, desires and other “sins” of those people entered into the religion. To date there is no proof that any text existing on Earth was written by the hand of god itself. Therefore, we have nothing more than our interpretations of what deity might want. That said, it is impossible for anyone to claim that the tradition they follow is the one true way.
I believe that we should all learn about and from other faiths. Outside of cults, all religions have something good in them. Even the much-maligned Satanism has valuable ideas and lessons, and would be less hated if people actually learned something about it rather than basing judgements on media sensationalism of bad apples and cult posers. Of course, it’s that media misrepresentation that causes many people to hate members of any other religion. That and long-held biases based on the idea that there might be one right way.
If we all learned from one another and looked for the commonalities in our beliefs, we would grow closer together as a people and a planet. There are so many ideals that are held across various faith systems. Most faiths seek peace both within and without, encourage you to love your fellow man, have some form of prayer, believe in the healing power of faith and so on. There are a lot of good things in common if we’d only look for them.
What needs to stop is religion-fueled hate. The big religions are actually encouraging hate of other faith groups, homosexuals, certain ethnicities and even women. No god or universal power would want that kind of hate. When I hear about these things, I can’t help thinking of the Nazis and their desire to have one master race that looked, acted and behaved a certain way. Anything else needed to be eliminated. Sound familiar? That’s what some of these religions are doing right now. I truly believe that we are meant for peace. We should look for our common ground and end hate. The God/Power wouldn’t want war and hate and discrimination. It serves no purpose. It doesn’t make the world a better place.
If your religion is teaching you that people who don’t share your faith are wrong in some way, or that people who aren’t just like the faithful of your religion are going to die/burn/etc., I would highly recommend that you find a new religion. If your religion doesn’t encourage you to learn from many sources and make your own choices… Well, that sounds a lot like a cult. Personally, I’ll pray for world enlightenment and an end to religion-based hate. I may not live to see it, but I believe that it is possible, and I will hope for the day when we all come together to celebrate our similarities and respect or differences, rather than killing each other over them.