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Facts and fakes of religion around the world

Updated on September 11, 2015

Jews

Stereotype: From unmemorable times, Jews have been seen by the rest of the world as greedy, capricious misers. They have been represented counting or collecting money and scamming others in order to get their riches. The practice even has a name: Antisemitism. It has existed for centuries and reached its maximum expression during WW-II, but it persists in the ‘polite society’ we live in.

Truth: Judaism is a religion that focuses on actions rather than dogmas. They actually do not have a series of developed rules or positions a person must adopt in order to become or be called a Jew. But the most important thing is that they deeply care for relationships. Their relationship with God, the relationship Jews have with the land of Israel and the relationships between people. Truth is, they care a lot for others and work hard in order to earn what they have. Ah, the greediness… some people are good with money, some aren’t. Jews are not greedy, it is just that some of their rules happen to be smart ways of managing their income.

Muslims

Stereotype: Simple equation: Muslim=Arab=Terrorist. Not much more needs to be said. People think Muslims are dangerous, just because they are Muslims. Some even think that because a name sounds weird it should be stopped in every airport. Not to mention the mental images of women being beaten and not allowed to speak in public.

Truth: For starters. Islam literally means ‘Peace’. Muslims base their beliefs in the Quran, a book they believe God revealed to Muhammad. This book is fairly known to spread the teachings of peace. Muslims and Arabs are usually linked to awful acts such as terrorist attacks, but the truth is that, first of all, not all Arabs are Muslims.And second, they are not necessarily connected to religion.Peaceful Muslims have joined the pain and agony of people suffering losses in the hands of their brothers that take the words of the Quran the wrong way. And many other religious groups have committed acts that are as violent as the acts that Muslims are constantly accused of.

It’s all too easy to repeat and end up believing what a small group of people think of someone that has a different way of seeing things. Most of the time, we end up generalizing and judging a group of people because of something we once heard someone say. This is the mentality of a person that doesn’t know better. So in the name of peace, today we are here to break some barriers of stereotypes that divide us.

Here are some of the most widely spread misconceptions and their myth-breaking truths.


Christians

Stereotype: All Christians deprive themselves from living a fully satisfying life. Also, they look down on people that don’t believe the same things they do. And above all, they force everyone to repent and convert no matter what the topic of conversation is. Christian women are not allowed to cut their hair, trim their eyebrows or shave their legs. The leg thing is not such a big deal if it’s true, they have to wear long skirts all the time anyway.

Truth: Although cultural differences are applicable just as much as they are to any other religion, it is a mistake to take all Christians for fanatics. Some actually are not constant practitioners. They live their lives just as any other person would. Even if they try to keep moderate habits that, to their eyes, allow them to live a life closer to God. Except for very small communities, women are allowed to do as they wish with their physical appearance as long as they can portray the image of a person that endeavors to live their life pleasing God.


Rastafari

Stereotype: All Rastafarian Jamaicans that smoke Marijuana, don’t shower and have to be black. It supposedly is a no-women-allowed kind of religion. Many don’t take them seriously and believe it is just a phase people grow out of, not a real religion.

Truth: Marijuana is not a requirement. Some tend to smoke it to avoid smoking cigarettes, feeling it is more natural. They wear dreadlocks to honor their highest Jah. Men and women alike are welcome to join if they really want to convert. And they don’t have to be from Jamaica. Also, it is a true religion and also a way of life; not just a phase people go through. Rastafarians see their bodies as their temple and therefore, take special care of it. They let their hair grow and do not taint with anything unnatural. They do not tattoo their skin and live on a strict Ital diet to stay healthy. It comes down to respecting your body and what it represents.


Atheists

Stereotype: Some affirm that they lead very sad and unfulfilled lives because they have no God in their hearts. Still others are convinced that Atheists take science as their god and have made it their religion, or that they are just trying to follow a trend. Maybe one of the biggest misconceptions of all times is to believe they have no moral standards because they don’t have a religion to define them, and that makes them mean, intolerant and even aggressive with others.

Truth: They don’t need religion to make their lives have instant meaning. Atheists pursue goals and have hobbies, they work and study and make their lives as well as others can. They adjust their moral standards to their own perception, not to a religion’s rule. Atheists view religions simply as another way of living life.They are not necessarily violent or mean to people just because they have other beliefs. Of course, every person is different and defends a conception of truth in different ways.

If we take a close look, most of the things we have heard about other religious beliefs are mostly just gossip. People decide what to be and how to behave without having to base their decisions on their religion. A person from one religion can be as nice or as mean as people from another.Religion in the end is what we make of it. If we decided to look beyond the selfish way of thinking that only we can be right, and that we possess the universal truth, we would see we all have more things in common than things that separate us.

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