First off, no, I do not have a problem with anyone being religious; I’m just not religious myself. My own experience with religion is not a negative one, in fact, all in all, it’s been positive. Both of my parents were atheists but allowed me to forge my own path when it came to this topic. I was allowed to openly explore different religions and decide if any of them were for me. From a young age, I’ve been surrounded by all different religions because of how diverse London is. Whilst my extended family were devout Christians, meaning I went to church quite often (I can be honest and say the only thing I can remember is being annoyed that I could not have the wafer that the priest gave you), my school was filled with people from both monotheistic and polytheistic religions. This helped me learn a lot about different religions and truly appreciate the beauty in them.
I feel that religion as a concept has many good points that people simply fail to see. For one thing, it creates an international community. With approximately 1.15 billion Hindus worldwide all these people are connected by a common belief, meaning a vast amount of people experience the benefits of a community, such as a sense of purpose and belonging. Religion also encourages good deeds. An example of this is in Islam; one of the Five Pillars of Islam is Zakat. Zakat is all about charity, where Muslims who have the means, give whatever they can to the less fortunate. Religion also takes a tremendous amount of dedication, with self-disciplining practices such as fasting, which shows that religious people have an amazing amount of inner strength that is not recognized often enough. Aside from all the good qualities that it possesses, there is a beauty in the culture and festivities within religions themselves.
Religion has always been an intrinsic part of historical and modern society. Nowadays a large part of the global population aligns themselves with a particular religion. It also predates written history with artifacts portraying religious burials dating as far back as 13,000 BC (before Christ). Despite this religion, religious people have a profoundly negative reputation. Often times religious people are linked to being delusional, a prime example of this is Richard Dawkins’ book ‘The God Delusion’ where he says “There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning.”, which suggests that people think that even having a faith is something that should be looked down upon. This is probably why so many religious people are scoffed at when they express their views on particular topics. Another cause of religious people’s bad reputation is the media (I’ve learned that ultimately most things are the media’s fault) as it continues to promote negative religious stereotypes. Common stereotypes include: all Muslims are terrorists, all Christians are homophobic, and all Jewish people are stingy with their money. These stereotypes do not even apply to the majority of people within these religions. It has gotten to a point where even cartoons are highlighting the problem of religious representation within the media, with caricatures such as Mort from Family Guy, or Homer Simpson, assuming that a Muslim who has moved to Springfield is a terrorist (S20E07). Our society’s views are being presented to us so obviously, yet we still aren’t taking notes or changing our ways.
In 2017, equality is so important, and as a whole, we truly aspire to attain it. More and more countries are encouraging equal rights in spite of race or gender, which is a great step. But surely someone should not be written off because of religion! As in this day and age, everyone has the right to be heard.