Religious tolerance necessary for students

Opinions Columinst | Jounalism senior

Everyone is allowed to practice or not practice religion as they so choose, but issues arise when that religion becomes as imposing as an unwelcome visitor.

The First Amendment contains the freedom of religion. However, this amendment does not mean that students should not respect and understand the religious boundaries of those around them.

Just as people do not all come in black or white, people do not all practice the same religion. People practice all types of religions, from Catholicism to Buddhism. No religion is superior or holier than another just as no race is superior to another.

Unfortunately, some students forget this fact and either try to “convert” others to believe the same way they do or belittle others for not being of a certain religion. Because of these two circumstances, students are quick to hide from those they perceive to be religious zealots for fear of attempted conversion or ridicule.

Pushing a religion down someone’s throat in the hopes they will see the light and worship along with others is a good way to scare people off. This radical tactic of spreading the good word is uncomfortable and embarrassing for people to watch.

There are calmer and more rational ways of attracting students to hear what is being said without yelling at them and condemning them for not immediately following in the footsteps of a specific ideology.

Students calmly saying “thank you, but no” is their way of practicing freedom of religion as well. That does not mean students should be yelled at for not wanting to listen, no matter how calmly the sermon was being delivered.  If they wanted to stop and listen, they would. If they don’t like what they hear, they can choose to leave.

Going door to door asking people to attend one’s church is perfectly acceptable as long as the person does not badger or belittle people when they say no. Getting angry at students for not wanting to worship the same as someone else does is counterproductive and a waste of everyone’s time.

This is not to say students should stop spreading religion altogether. Some students need direction and want to learn more about a certain religion and decide if it is the right one for them. If it is not, students should be allowed to explore other religions without criticism and ridicule from their previous choice.  They should also be taught from an unbiased perspective.

Tolerance should not only be practiced within a religion for other religions but for people in general. Hating someone because they lead different lives or simply sin differently than someone else is ridiculous and immature. Understanding that everyone is different is a valuable lesson that people seem to be forgetting. The world is constantly changing, and people need to catch up to the times and change with it.

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