Religious Tolerance “Nurture tolerance among people of all or no faiths:” at first this idea seems almost utopian. It is very hard to envision a world in which everyone is tolerant of one another’s religious beliefs. In all honesty, I think this is an idealistic goal that will never be achieved on a global scale. However, it is an important mission and there are very real ways to achieve it, even if done very slowly and on a smaller scale. The only way to achieve religious tolerance among all people is through acceptance, education, and interaction. The world would be very different if these three things were put into practice. Changes in society would be the best indication that the Boniuk Institute’s mission of nurturing religious tolerance has been reached. The first step is to come to terms with the fact that we are all different by nature. Acceptance of other people is, in sum, what tolerance means. However, to understand tolerance we must first know what tolerance is not. Tolerance does not mean appreciation or even interest, but at its best an educated indifference. Being tolerant of someone or something does not mean that you agree with them. It simply means that you at least passively allow them to believe that they will. Religion, although far more profound than I can attempt to explain, is essentially a personal preference. Acceptance would mean not being fervently bothered by the idea that someone else does not worship the same god or any god at all. It would mean being able to walk past a church or church group of another faith without negative thoughts but rather have an acceptance for the difference caused by history or where their life journey has led them (whatever their circumstance may be). The best way to achieve religious tolerance is to educate people on different religions. Ignorance is the main cause of intolerance; people fear the unknown. I’m sure that if you were to
randomly select people of the street and ask them what they know about Islam, Judaism, or Buddhism their knowledge would be very limited. How will people of different faiths respect each other if they know nothing of one another? Different faiths should be taught in school; if not in an official class there should at least be a club or other organization in the school to educate other students. If children are taught from a very young age about other religions as they grow up they will at least have an informed opinion. Another part of nurturing religious tolerance involves interaction. People tend to stay close to their religious communities with no desire to reach out to others. If we are to live together in peace, we must speak to each other, not shout, not preach, and definitely not be violent towards one other. Those of different faiths, especially the youth should get together and have conversations regarding their faith. If the older generation encouraged these talks and made a place for them there would be more religious tolerance. I think school is a prime example of people of different faiths interacting with one another in a positive way. For example, I have friends who are Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, and atheist. Having known them and their families for years I certainly do not have a negative opinion of these religions. The world now and throughout history has seen the adverse effects of all types of intolerance. Religious intolerance continues to take a huge toll on the world. The end of religious intolerance would mean the end of many wars. It would mean allowing people of any faith to pray in public schools. It would be the end to a type of bullying and exclusion. An end to religious intolerance may be a utopian goal, but definitely one worth trying to achieve.