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Unformatted text preview: McLean 1 Sarah McLean English 111 Heather Pristash November 2006 Essay 4: Draft 1 Are you religious? Have you even thought about your religion, lack of religion, or other people's religions? If so, there are events, small and large, happening all over the world which could affect the way in which your religion is perceived. Everyone knows of the conflicts in the Middle East between many different religious groups over the socalled "Holy Land" this is one of the larger issues which is highly publicized. However, few people know of religious injustices that are occurring right here, in our own schools. Kids receiving dirty looks when telling others their religion and religiously biased jokes being told nonchalantly. While there is comparatively less actual violence in most of our own communities, there are misunderstandings, assumptions and cultural inaccuracies regarding many faiths. All of these discrepancies, violent or non-violent, worldwide or in our own communities, cause a rift between religious congregations and could lead to much larger problems. There are, however, a few steps which could be taken by many different organizations, some religious some not, which could help to resolve these problems. McLean 2 One way of beginning religious understanding would be to hold an annual religious summit, much like the Group of 8 or G8, which is a group of the leaders of the eight most economically powerful countries. If it were somehow possible to get these religious leaders together and for them to agree on issues, they could in turn help the followers of their respective religions live in peace. However, ending religious bias is not only a job for religious leaders such as the Pope or Dali Lama. They should play a role in the mass education of religion; however politicians should play a role as well. Due to the greater amount of funds available politically compared to religiously politicians have a greater opportunity to advertise and publicize religions. Churches should also be sure their younger members are educated about other religions. Nearly every religion has some type of coming of age ceremony, from Catholic Confirmation to Jewish Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. Before any member of that congregation is allowed to complete their coming of age ceremony they should take classes to better understand other religions as well as to help them decide if that religion is the best fit for them. Holding an annual summit of the leaders of the main religions could have a great impact on larger religious issues such as religious wars. There are plenty of established and assumed religious leaders such as Gordon Hinckley (Mormon Leader), the Dalai Lama, Bill Graham (Protestant Leader), Jerry Falwell (Evangelical), Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Eastern Orthodox Church), Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (Anglican), Imam W. Deen Mohammed (Muslim American Society), or Louis Farrakhan (Nation of Islam) (Contemporary Religious Leaders). The political G8 summit has been partially credited with ending the Cold War (G8), so it is reasonable that with McLean 3 some work a similar religious summit could end a war such as the one in the Middle East over land. This summit could be comprised of the largest religions throughout the world, based on percentage. This would make Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism the top five (Number of Adherents). After Judaism the numbers drop drastically and are the differences are hardly distinguishable. By holding a summit with these five leaders there would be representing 4,471.5 million people, which is 71% of the world population (Number of Adherents). It would also put feuding religions in a room together. Imagine having the Islamic leader and Jewish leader sit down and have a conversation about how to fairly decide who deserves ownership of the Holy Land, or even dividing it equally. There are, however, many problems with this solution which make it nearly impossible. The main problem is simply that some religions, such as Judaism, don't have one head of the entire religion to represent everyone. There also is the fact that there are many atheists or non believers who would not be represented at all in the summit. A debate would also probably come up about whether Christianity as a whole should be counted or if each branch of Christianity should be treated separately. Another option which could be explored is for politicians to get involved. Of course most people's main concern is that church and state be separate, which is entirely justified. There should not be any type of law passed stating everyone in any region must be any religion. However, it could be beneficial for politicians to begin supporting all religions, and more importantly the understanding of religions. By using state, county or city money they could fund Public Service Announcements to broaden people's ideas about other religions. There are plenty of billboards, commercials and even movies geared towards being accepting of other races, abilities, genders and sexual preferences; McLean 4 however we rarely see anything telling us to be accepting of other religions. This solution would most likely only work at a national level, not global, but it could still be effective. There are plenty of famous actors, athletes, singers, and even politicians whom are from religious decent you would never assume. For example Wynona Rider, Noah Wyle, William Shatner, and Sarah Jessica Parker are all Jewish (Famous Jews Interactive). Kate Bosworth, Orlando Bloom and Mark Wahlberg are all Buddhists (Famous Buddhists). Eliza Dushku, Ryan Gosling, Katherine Heigl, and Paul Walker are all Mormon (Famous Mormons). For the most part one wouldn't assume these people would be these religions. Take for example Kate Bosworth, she's blond haired, blue eyed, and light skinned, quite the opposite of what one would assume a Buddhist would look like. A typical vision of a Buddhist is a dark skinned person of Indian descent wearing robes. By politicians helping to fund ads such as these they could utilize this misconception to educate people. Staying with the previous example of Kate Bosworth, a PSA could have her stating that at some point within our lifetime (roughly 1980-present) over 1,000 Buddhists have been killed due to religious persecution (Timeline of Buddhists), which is shocking considering most people associate Buddhism with things such as meditating and peace. By raising awareness, people will be more educated. However, it could just be something to look at and check on the celebrity's newest hairstyle instead of a powerful political and religious warning. This solution would work better than a religious summit; however it also has problems of its own. Many people wouldn't watch a PSA on television because people skip commercials. The same thing applies to magazines, most people would simply flip past the page. McLean 5 The final option would be for religions to be sure their followers are educated. Nearly every religion has some type of coming of age ceremony, usually around the age of puberty. As mentioned before Catholics make their Confirmation, the Jewish have a Bat or Bar Mitzvah; also, Hindus have Thread Ceremonies, and Wicca's have Circle Castings. In the year preceding this ceremony teenagers prepare to enter adulthood, often by studying their religion, in most cases to make sure they want to pledge themselves to it. A good way to end the many misunderstanding among religions is for each religion to educate its members about not only their religion, but others as well. For example in Catholicism, teenagers make their Confirmation when they are 13 or 14, which coincides with the end of their eighth grade year here in the United States. Typically for that year, they would study Catholicism to fully understand what it is they are doing. Instead of this, they could take two years prior to their ceremony and for the first year learn about other religions. In doing this they could learn about similarities and differences in beliefs, worship or service, dedication, and actually living life according to that religion. This would be beneficial for many reasons. First, it would help the teens decide if this really is the right religion for them, meaning they would not be forced into a religion they don't want to be a part of which would make them bitter about religion. It would also take care of educating them about all of the other religions, and recognizing that most religions really aren't all that different, they're just expressed in different ways. The only thing which might restrict this from working in places other than the United States is that many other countries aren't as liberal about their religions. Some countries have specific religions you must adhere to, and are forced into practicing. However, here in the States it McLean 6 could work quite well, provided parent allow their children to be accepting and the teenagers worked hard to learn and understand. All in all, there are multiple solutions which could work, and many which would not. These are a few that could help improve that quality of life of most religious people. Any of combination of these three solutions or even any of them on their own could help the way we live every day. Some on a smaller level such as stopping school aged kids from picking on the Muslim girl with her burka; a veil Muslim women wear (American Heritage) on, all the way up to wars and terrorism. For the most part, education is the key to acceptance; we cannot understand what we don't know. So why not educate and understand? All it would take is a little bit of time, some effort, and at nearly no cost to anyone. McLean 7 Works Cited "Burka" Def.1 American Heritage College Dictionary .4th Ed. 2004 "Coming of Age Rituals." Religious Tolerance. 13 Mar. 2006. 13 Nov. 2006. <www.religioustolerance.org/wicpuber.htm> "Contemporary Religious Leaders." Historical Religious Leaders. 12 Nov. 2005. 13 Nov. 2006. <http://www.adherents.com/adh_leaders.html> Famous Buddhists. 16 June 2006. 13 Nov. 2006 <http://www.adherents.com/largecom/ fam_buddhist.html> Famous Jews Interactive. 1 Sept. 1988. 14 Nov. 2006. < http://famous.heebz.com/> "Famous Mormons." Mormon News. 2006. 13 Nov. 2006 <http://www.morgannews.us/fam.html> "G8." Wikipedia. 13 Nov. 2006. 14 Nov. 2006. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G8> "Number of Adherents." Religions of the World. 24 Mar. 2006. 12 Nov. 2006 <http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.html> "Timeline of Buddhists." Wikipedia. 11 Nov. 2006. 14 Nov. 2006. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Buddhism> McLean 8 ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course ENG 111 taught by Professor Pristash during the Fall '06 term at Bowling Green.
- Fall '06