This is the way I think of all our religions. There are thousands of religions all over the world, and within those religions, there are other branches and/or denominations. According to the “World Christian Encyclopedia,” there are 19 major world religions. These are subdivided into about 270 other groups, with 34,000 separate Christian groups being identified. And even in these groups, there are many sub-groups with varying beliefs. So I ask you…which one is right and which one is wrong? More than likely many will answer that your particular religion / denomination is the one and only way.
I’ve said this before, but I love the diversity of our world and that includes all the various religions and belief systems. I learn so much from many of them! I can only believe and share what I feel is right for me at this time and those beliefs change as I continue to open my awareness and become more enlightened to all of life. My main motto is Jesus’ words to love one another (no exceptions) and by this you will know who his disciples are…by how much they love one another. Therefore, I refuse to judge, or even hate, anyone just because they believe something different than me. (I don’t always succeed, but it’s what I aspire to.)
It’s amazing how many people literally hate the believers of other religions or others who are “different,” wanting to keep them oppressed, making laws against them, and some even want to wipe them off the face of the earth! We hear it in the media, from the pulpits, in books and articles, and even in letters to the editors! I recently read a letter against a particular religion and the people in that religion, but what the writer wrote were lies. (I researched to double check.) One line s/he wrote was partially true, but if the writer had researched the whole story, s/he would have learned that it wasn’t what s/he thought it was. The sad part is that people read things like this and automatically believe it without researching the truth. We need to do our own research rather than just believe what we see / hear / read regardless of what that information is or where it’s coming from, particularly if it’s hate propaganda. We also have to remember that when we’re speaking hate towards others, it defines our own character and integrity and not the people we’re speaking against.
And it’s not just religions that people spread hate towards. It’s color of skin, race, politics, sexual preferences, gender, occupations, and so much more. You would think that religions would be about love and peace and to work towards everyone getting along. It’s what all the great spiritual masters taught! How on earth did we get so off base to use our religions to back up and defend our hatred for others? It’s happened since the beginning of time, but because of today’s social technology, everyone hears about it. We say God is love, but many are using God as an excuse to hurt others and that’s just not cool!
Gandhi said “God has no religion.” I totally believe this to be true. Many religions believe in God, but many believe that if it’s not with their religion, then the God isn’t the same God. Some people get upset when they hear Muslims use the name Allah, but Allah is used by both Muslims and Christians in the Middle East. There are thousands of names for what many call God, yet we fight and argue over a deity that made it clear in the Bible that the name to be used was “I am that I am!”
Why can’t we all just get along? We don’t have to agree with each other, but let’s stop the hate! Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined non-conformists who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.” He also said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.” And lastly he stated, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper January 30, 2015.