Imagine if living in a pluralistic society was something we were all trained to do. Imagine if every member of our great society had once paid a visit to a synagogue, a church, a mosque, a temple, a gurdwara, if each of us had visited each other’s spiritual home, enjoyed each other’s hospitality, and learned, in a friendly and respectful way, what the other believes. Imagine how hard it would be then to look at anyone and see the “other.” Imagine how hard it would be to fear another group, to hate, or to kill.
In metro Detroit, we’re working to make that dream a reality. And in the past weeks, local youth gathered for our teen program Face to Faith at Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield and 300 Religious Diversity Journeys participants journeyed into Hinduism at Baharatiya Temple and Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple.
These are some of the things they’ve learned, in their own words. Imagine if everyone knew this:
All religions worship differently but have similarities too.
I learned that everyone in the world is my brother and sister and that different religions have very different beliefs.
I learned why some religions take off their shoes before praying.
Islam means peace and has nothing to do with hate.
Hindus are monotheistic
Christians believe in the holy Trinity
I learned not to stereotype other and that we’re all different but we can still be friends.
I learned that what you put into something that is what you receive back from it.
That bindis are worn for attention and focus
Learn before you assume things.
I never knew that there were so many rumors about religion that weren’t true.
I’ve learned that peace means more than just no war and I’ve learned to respect other people’s beliefs.
I’ve learned not to listen to stereotypes about each religion and how they are mostly wrong about these great religions.
Be kind to everyone.
I learned that Judaism is similar to Christianity
One lesson was that even though you’ve heard stuff about a religion, doesn’t make it true.
Every religion has its own uniqueness and beauty.
Every religion has a different way to look and think about God
Don’t judge by appearance, there is a lot behind the things people wear for their religion- each thing has a meaning.
Don’t judge people before you know them.
I learned that many religions have different practices and ways that are very cool and unique to that culture.
I know that not all religions are bad- most religions are there to help you become a better person.
I’ve learned that everyone has feelings and how we should never judge anyone by their cover or appearance on religion.
If you’d like to get involved in religious literacy and interfaith youth activities, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.