How to respect other religions

The Twelve Commandments of respect and communication.

Yme Woensdregt

Last week, as I was surfing the ‘net, I came across one of those wonderful infographics which capture the heart of something important in such a simple form. This one was called “How to Respect Other Religions.” As I read it and thought about it, it struck me that this is just good advice for life in general, or for becoming more open about anything new.

So here goes — the 12 Commandments of respect and communication.

1) Educate yourself. Before you make any comments or pass any judgments, make sure you know what you’re talking about. Learn. Be open to knowing something new. Explore. Be prepared to be delighted in what you might find on that journey of exploration.

2) Be amazed — or even converted — into a better version of yourself. I love this one. Be open to that piece of wonder and awe that might transform you and make you more whole. Every new idea — by which I mean every idea that is new to you — has something in it that might just cause you to be changed into something more beautiful. This is true for people of all the different faiths as well as for atheists. We can all learn and grow from one another.

3) Be patient —don’t form opinions too soon. Take the time you need to learn and grow. Some ideas strike us as odd the first time we hear them. But first reactions are not always the best reactions. First reactions sometimes keep us from seeing a deeper truth.

4) Build relationships. Get to know other religions not just by reading a book, but by talking to people who practice them. That’s not just true of religions, but true of every sphere of life. Get to know people of other cultures and races. Build relationships with people in the LGBTQ community. As we get to know, respect and love others, we will find it impossible to condemn others if they think differently than we do.

5) Keep your sense of humour handy. Always. Don’t take yourself or your beliefs or your opinions too seriously. Find joy in every moment.

6) Ask questions — listen. Listen deeply. Seek to find out how this belief may be life–giving to another person. Asking questions is indispensable to building relationships. It also shows that we know we don’t know everything, and that we are willing to learn.

7) Say, “I don’t understand — yet.” Be open to the fact that in time, with patience (#3), you may well come to understand. Be aware that it may well take a long time to come to understand what inspires other people.

8) Experience how others worship. Learning about the beliefs that inspire other people isn’t just a “head trip”. It requires experience, learning it from the inside. It’s an opportunity to build relationships as you worship with other people, joining in community with them as they give voice to the truths by which they live.

9) Honour convictions; don’t try to remake people in your own image. How important this is! Especially when the convictions of other people are different than our convictions. I’ve often said in this space that no single one of us can claim to know the whole truth. The sad history of Christianity (and some other religious traditions) is that too often, we condemn others as being wrong. It’s okay to say “I disagree”. It’s not okay to condemn others on the basis of that disagreement.

10) Eat together, play together, and hold each other’s babies. I smiled at this one. How important it is to just be together, to eat and play, to dance and sing, to care for one another in such simple pleasures. And how can you not respect someone else when you hold their children in your arms?

11) Embrace mystery. At the heart of every faith tradition, at the heart of every person, we find mystery. Mystery isn’t something to be solved. Mystery is that impenetrable sense at the heart of every faith conviction that there is something or someone MORE in the universe. It defies our paltry attempts to define it. It’s important to honour the place of mystery which resides at the heart of life. Not everything can be explained or defined.

12) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This “golden rule” lies at the heart of every single one of the world’s major religions. If nothing else, we share this in common, that we are to treat one another with grace, compassion, respect, and above all, with love.

Twelve commandments … if only we could learn together to live in this way. Imagine how much more gracious life could be.

Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook

Just Posted

The Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group is active again after a few years off and are working to find a home for Gloria in Kimberley. Photo taken at a KRRG fundraiser several years ago. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group active once more

KRRG working to find a refugee a safe place to live in Kimberley

The Kimberley Aquatic Centre is set to reopen its doors to the public on July 6, after being shut down due to the pandemic in March, 2020. The Centre will be initially operating with reduced occupancy and limited program offerings. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Aquatic Centre set to re-open July 6

New safety infrastructure, limited guests and programming allow facility to open again

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Most Read