Throughout our lives, we encounter people who are different from us in many ways. We interact with people who are of different races and genders, who have different sexualities and come from different backgrounds. And, of course, we come across people who have different religions than us. This might be in the workplace, or in your personal life. Either way, religion is a very personal thing, and it’s easy to offend someone when it comes to their religion – even if you don’t mean it. Sometimes, we make these mistakes because we don’t know they are offensive. Of course, respecting other people’s religion is very important, especially if you are trying to raise children who are also respectful of others, whether they are the same as you or different. If you’re not sure where to start with this, you’ve come to the right place.
You can talk to people about their religions – in fact, by not talking about it, we’re often making the problem worse. That being said, it’s not someone else’s job to teach you about their religion or beliefs. If you have questions or you are curious about their way of living, try to do some research on your own first. This will at least give you a starting point when you decide to open up the conversation. Doing research will likely give you insight into why someone believes something – most religions are founded in something concrete. For example, if you were interested in Christianity, you could look at evidence of Jesus resurrection to understand why people are so concrete in their beliefs.
If you’re curious about the way people who form part of a certain religion dress or do things, don’t just stare at them and secretly judge them. Ask them! Of course, the situation may vary vastly, which is why we recommend that you do research first. But if you are close to someone and you are asking out of curiosity and not hate, you should be able to ask them about their religion. Just be sure to phrase it respectfully, and don’t push them if they don’t want to talk.
Try to understand their reasons
We all have reasons for what we do and don’t believe. And yet we tend to dismiss other people’s beliefs. Why? Is it because we do not think that they have valid reasons for why they follow a particular religion? It’s important to note that other religions often don’t make sense to us, because we can’t understand why someone would want to live their life that way. But if you talk to someone and try to gain a deeper understanding of why they do that, it will be easier for you to respect them and their religion. You don’t need to agree with it, but just try to see things from their point of view. From the outside, celebrating Easter may seem trivial, but once you understand the history behind it, you may have a better understanding of why it is so important to some people.
Don’t judge them
You may not agree with a certain religion or set of beliefs – even if you do understand it – but that doesn’t give you the right to judge someone. Similarly, don’t try to force someone to follow your religion or way of thinking. You likely wouldn’t like it if someone did that to you. There’s a difference between conversation and bullying, so keep that in mind when it comes to religion.
No matter how hard we try, we all sometimes make assumptions about people based on their religion. Simply put, we as humans often stereotype other humans. We may assume that everyone who is part of a certain religion is stuck up, even if they aren’t. While religion is a big part of their identity for many people, it’s not the only defining factor, and people often have much more to them than what they believe in. Try to let go of your assumptions about a person and be open-minded instead of placing them in a box simply because of their religion. If this is something you struggle with a lot, you can click here for some ways to train your brain to be more open-minded.
Respect their religion
We’ve spoken about respecting people, but respecting their religion is just as important. What exactly does this mean? It means that, if something is viewed as offensive by a particular religion, you shouldn’t do or say that. Even if you don’t understand why it’s offensive, and it doesn’t offend you, it’s still wrong to do something knowing that it could hurt a group of people.
We’ve established that religion is a deeply personal thing for many people, and it is therefore often hard to open up about it. This is especially true for people who are often judged about their religion. So, if someone is willing to educate you on their beliefs, you should try to do the same. This can be hard because many of us struggle to talk about religion – in fact, a lot of us view it as a difficult topic to talk about. But this may be purely because the less something is talked about, the harder it becomes to talk about it. You should have these challenging conversations, even if it may be uncomfortable in the beginning. Who knows – it may just lead to you having challenging conversations within your family, which is just as important.
Respect their choices
You may notice that respect is a theme that comes up a lot when it comes to religion, and that’s because it’s so important. Respect the person, respect their religion, respect their choices. It’s the bare minimum you can do. Therefore, if someone chooses to dress a certain way, avoid certain media, and follow a specific diet, you should respect that. Don’t tease them or try to change their mind – it’s their life, and they should be able to live it the way that they want. In short, think about how you would like to be treated with regards to your religion, and treat others that way.