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The Irony of Religious Discrimination

Updated on February 4, 2014
The Irony of Religious Discrimination
The Irony of Religious Discrimination | Source

There’s always been this ongoing argument about who is right and who is wrong when it comes to religion.

Each person wants to believe that what he or she grew up with, took as their own, and stand behind today, is the truth.

But what is religion? Before we can discuss right and wrong, we must define this concept.

What is Religion?

According to Wikipedia, religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.

Each religion has its own stories, symbols, items, and sacred histories that explain to its followers the meaning of life and the origin or the Universe.

From their religion, most people also get their beliefs on morality, ethics, correct ways to behave, and even their overall lifestyles. For many people, their religious beliefs are so ingrained in their everyday lives, that they are what they believe.

According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. (Wikipedia)

Religion is the powerful presence watching over you and protecting you. Religion is the reason many people do the things that they do, the way they do them. And religion is the reason for living for so many.

When you tear apart, criticize, or cut down a person’s religion or god, you are likely doing it directly to them as well. For most people on Earth, their religion means everything to them.

Quick Poll

Do you believe others are wrong if they don't believe what you do?

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The Irony

When you really think about it, don’t we all have something we believe in that guides us through life, determines how we behave, what issues we stand behind?

Some call it religion, some spirituality, and others atheism. I’m sure that are many more descriptors out there to describe what it is that you defend and what defines your morality.

Although there are many countries in this world that define religion for their citizens, and where it is illegal, or even considered blasphemy to speak otherwise, here in the United States this is not the case.

In fact, most, if not all of the people living here on this continent, came here to be free from others telling them what to do, and what to believe.

Here in the United States there are over 313 of the thousands of world religions represented. (UnderGod)

As the United States is a country where citizens are granted the “freedom of religion” among other freedoms, those living here can worship as they please, gather for services if, when , and where they wish, pray when, where, and how they wish, and even speak about it to others.

The whole premise of this freedom, is that you can choose your own beliefs and live how you wish to without prejudice. Are we really all that different that we have to tear down the religions and beliefs of others in favor of our own ways?

The Irony of Religious Discrimination
The Irony of Religious Discrimination | Source

An Omniscient Being

Although each religion has a different story it follows, different responsibilities and requirements of its followers, each has at least one all-knowledgeable, all-present, powerful being, likely bigger than the planet, itself that it follows.

For Christians this is Jesus Christ, and he goes by many other names. For Catholics, Orthodox members, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims, this is God is one in the same.

Although beliefs vary widely in how individuals in each of these religions interpret their main text, understand the authority of Church hierarchy, and as to the positions they take on various social issues, such as homosexuality, abortion, or prayer in school.

The many religions of Iran worship Ahura Mazda, or the one uncreated God.

The religions of India, including Hinduism and Buddhism, worship one being Gautama Buddha, who was a teacher whom they deemed “the enlightened one.” These religions are based on his teachings and his life.

Wicca is a religion which traces its roots to the pre-Celtic era in Europe, and its followers worship the Goddess and her consort, Pan, the Horned God. (IUP)

I could go on and on naming the god or gods of each religion, but the basis of this reporting is simply to show that we are all very similar.

Symbolic Texts

Most religions have a text that they follow which includes rules, stories, regulations, and suggestions for living to their followers. For Christians, Catholics, Mormons, and Protestants this text is the Bible. For Jews it is the Torah.

Islam is based on the Quran, Hinduism is the Shruti, and Buddhism has the Tipitaka, the Dhammapada, and other Buddhist texts.

To name a few others, Taoism has the Dao de jing, the Bahá'í Faith has the Kitab-i-Iqan, and even Confucianism has the Analects of Confucius. (WikiQuote)

We each have rules that we follow from a book or books that we believe share the truth and the way to please “God” and reach our destiny in the end.

The Irony of Religious Discrimination
The Irony of Religious Discrimination | Source

Symbols and Religious Items

For most people, keeping familiar symbols of their religion in their home or on their being is comforting, sometimes necessary, and may be used on a regular basis. Each religion has its own unique religious symbols.

For a Christian this is normally a cross, but pictures of Jesus Christ and printed prayers may also be seen in their regular environment. Catholics have crucifixes, communion gowns, and the rosary. Of course, pictures, statues, and other items representing the Mother Mary are also common.

Those in the Jewish religion have the menorah, the kittel, and the yarmulke, Hindus have the linga, tilak, and yantra, and the Buddhists have their Buddhist statues, prayer beads, and the mandala.

Those that follow Islam have the Dome of the Rock, prayer beads, and Koranic verses that remind them of their religion.

Each and every religion has its own meaningful objects, pictures, statues, and items that assist them in their religious rituals or remind them of their religion. Many of them are the same from religion to religion, even if they may hold different meanings in each religion or even to each individual.

Prayer

Regardless of the religion mentioned, followers of all 4,200 religions around the world pray to their deities.

In some religions, this requires getting down on your knees and putting your hands together, in others it requires rugs, candles, and a text to read from.

Some people speak out loud, some in the privacy of a special room, some with their children and families at bedtime, mealtime, or on special holidays, and others pray multiple times a day at regular intervals facing different directions each time.

Some religions require that you go through a “chosen” one in order to speak to their god, speak in tongues, rub your prayer beads, confess your sins first, etc. etc.

It really doesn’t matter what religion we are talking about, but more that there is yet another similarity between all world religions.

The Irony of Religious Discrimination
The Irony of Religious Discrimination | Source

Direction and Guidance

The whole point of religion is that there is a supreme being, whether born on Earth, born is some holy realm, or one that was uncreated and has always existed.

This Supreme Being knows why we are here, what our purpose is on this Earth, and has rules for living righteously in order for us to reach some infamous happy ending which we all seek.

This Supreme Being has expectations for us here on Earth that we must fulfill. We look to this all-knowing god for answers, guidance, and direction in our lives.

For many we spend our entire lives trying to please our god(s), complete enough good tasks, convert enough people to our religion, or do whatever we think is necessary to follow in his or her ultimate will for us.

As human beings, it’s comforting to believe that we are not alone and that there is someone that knows what’s going on, that has some big plan for the world, and will guide us through the mess that is life, giving us some purpose for our actions and just for being here.

This is what religion is for most people.

Conclusion

Of course, this is not a thorough investigation of religion as a whole, only intended to make a point.

No one really knows that they have chosen the “correct” religion, that their god is the “right” one, and that they are the ones living in “truth.” However, I’m sure everyone hopes and believes that they are right, otherwise, there would be no reason for all that we do for our religions.

I also want to make the point that choosing to believe in “no god” is still a form of religion. You still have motivations that guide you, a way to know what is right and wrong, even if it’s the universe guiding you, and something to look forward to at the end of your lifetime.

I bet you still have many of the concepts listed above in your life that represent what you believe.

So if you feel like what you’ve chosen is the RIGHT way, how does it make you feel, or how would it make you feel, for someone to tell you that you are wrong, and that your beliefs are wrong?

And if you feel like you are the one in the right, what’s makes you think that every other person on the face of the Earth doesn’t also feel that same way?

Have you considered that we may be all ultimately seeking the same thing, praying to the same god, desiring the same blissful ending even if our stories are a little bit different?

Especially here in the US, no one should be criticized, shunned, put down, or discriminated against for their beliefs. Surely you don’t have the same favorite foods, call your children the same names, desire the same careers, or even live the same way as everyone else on Earth.

Why would your beliefs be any different?

Quick Poll

Do you believe that you have chosen the right path for your life?

See results

© 2014 Victoria Van Ness

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    • VVanNess profile image
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      Victoria Van Ness 2 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Thank you both for your wonderful comments!! I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I fully agree that all religions seek the same things - how to best live in this world, and explain the unexplainable. Religion is essentially ancient science. New scientific discoveries are showing what parts of them work, and what parts don't. No one knows any more than anyone else, so let's all get along, share the knowledge, and coexist!

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Yes its wrong for one religion to be negative about another but this is slowly changing as more tolerance is Evolving. Religion has evolved and will continue to do so. Classical Hinduism teaches tolerance of all beliefs. Ancient Roman religion embraced other religions and at first allowed Christianity to spread and later adopted it.

      My argument with New Atheism is that it is currently Devolving due to an unscientific imposed disconnection to the evolutionary roots of ethics/law which all come from religion. Hence to try to break that evolution causes rapid Devolution.

    • VVanNess profile image
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      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      :) lol Thanks!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I say a blessing upon our good people who participate though it may be difficult -Go Victoria go

    • VVanNess profile image
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      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Not a problem Eric. :) If this isn't a safe place to express our opinions, then where is it okay?

      I love hearing your thoughts! Thank you!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I had to digest this for a time before commenting. I think we must separate dogma and doctrine and program from personal belief. I will rally against some of those in some religious groups. I will not rally against an individual belief. "The Establishment of Religion" means something important. And must be socially tested.

      One human being's belief should only be tested between God and that child.

      So our threat is when we hear the dogma of a group espoused as a personal belief. That gets dicey. And we have some responsibility to point that out, for both the believer and ourselves and most importantly to our God.

      Oh I am so sorry but I preached on your hub.

    • VVanNess profile image
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      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Oh, thank you! That was my intention. I think you summed up my points perfectly. Thank you for the supportive comment!!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Victoria, your last two paragraphs sum it up beautifully. We all basically have the same goals in life. How we go about achieving those goals and what "names" we put on them is completely up to us. Religion is a private and personal choice. As long as your beliefs don't harm me or anyone else, who am I to say yours are any more or less important than mine?

      Great hub, Victoria! Religion is a very touchy subject. You presented it well and with no bias.

    • VVanNess profile image
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      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Thank you. I feel the same way, but that would be blasphemy for others. I know my mom would flip a lid if she read this. It's always her way or the highway, like most people feel.

      Thank you for your wonderful comment!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Religion can be a difficult subject to discuss. For me whatever the religion we chose to follow, we have to respect others for their choice and be respected for ours. Respect and understanding of others is the most important point for me.

    • VVanNess profile image
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      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      No comments! I did a lot of research for this one. I really think you'll learn something new! :)