The Importance of Religious Tolerance. (FIRST PERSON)

By Travis, Julia | The Humanist, November-December 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Importance of Religious Tolerance. (FIRST PERSON)


Travis, Julia, The Humanist


You're going to hell," my best friend old me, her eyes fierce. "You don't believe in God, so you're going to die and go to hell." I was nine years old.

Eight years later, I stood in the library of my suburban public high school, wrestling with masking tape and colored paper, trying to hang the display I had created in honor of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. When I was finally done, I stepped back to get a better look at the project I had spent weeks on. Two students, unaware that I was its creator, stopped to evaluate the display.

"Yom Kipper?" said one, mispronouncing the words with disdain. "What, did we get more Jew kids around here?"

"Yeah, what the hell," agreed his companion. "Isn't this thing, like, discrimination or something?"

I cringed inwardly as they walked away. Not that I hadn't heard comments like that before. In my predominantly white, middle-class, Christian city, diversity--especially of the religious sort--is fairly nonexistent and rarely promoted. Growing up an atheist, albeit a church-going one, never failed to separate me from my peers. In elementary school I was the only one who kept my mouth shut when we pledged allegiance to the Christian god. In middle school, I sat home on Wednesdays while my friends hung out with the local church's youth group. Now as a high school student I have explained more times than I can count what it means to be Unitarian Universalist and how I can go to church without believing in God.

Why is religious tolerance so important? Wouldn't it be easier for us to go on living in our cozy shells, immersed with only the view of the world we have adhered to all our lives? The simple answer is yes. However, the simple answer is not the right one.

It is much too easy to point to infamous examples of religious intolerance, such as the Holocaust, and say, "That will never happen again." It seems much too grand and too vague, over half a century later, like an evil that was long put to sleep. But the comments of the boys looking at my display only serve to prove the importance of teaching tolerance. Not to say that these high school students will grow up to be the next Hitler--but if they aren't taught to respect the religions and cultures of those around them at an early age, they will grow up to be the bigots of the future, carrying the torch of intolerance.

I have always been taught that it is important to learn about others so that I can better know myself. I have prayed with Baptists, meditated with Buddhists, and built a Sukkoth. While I may not embrace the teachings of all of the world's religions, I certainly have an understanding of them and, thus, a deep sense of respect and appreciation.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Importance of Religious Tolerance. (FIRST PERSON)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?