“Your wrists are sore and blistered from the rope that binds you. You smell the smoke as it rises from under you. The crowd around you roars with approval, as you become enveloped in flame, as your skin slowly melts off your bones causing you excruciating pain. No one deserves such a fate but it has happened and continues to happen to this day in one form or another. To be persecuted for a different belief, for a different religion. And how many of you are Christian? Muslim? Buddhist? Atheist? I know you’ve all felt annoyed when someone comes to your door at home- trying to convert you to their religion. Having been Catholic, it irritates me especially because I am an Atheist and I don’t want a religion anymore. And according to the Christian Monitor, 86% of people believe in a deity of some sort, and 14% are non-religious. Christians are 33% and Muslims 26% and Buddhists 6%. I have done extensive research into the history of religion. And today, I want to show you how religion is continuing to pervade the world and that you can help decrease this problem by a few simple steps in order to achieve a more stable world. But, first, let me tell you why we should try to fix this problem of religious intolerance.
II. The world is full of people who believe in different things. No one is right. Religious intolerance is a problem to the world because throughout the world (including here in the US) people have become so brainwashed with their religious beliefs that they cannot see any other point of view or way of thinking.
Religious fervour is the reason for nearly all the warfare and bloodshed in history. Some examples include the Crusades, The long-lasting Inquisition, and the Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572- in which Catholics massacred 200,000 Huguenots in the streets of Paris. We also have been attacked cruelly by Muslim Jihadists bent on world domination and submission. Children are taught from birth to believe what their parents believe without a shred of evidence.
Even today in some regions around the world- in Africa- there is mass genocide due to religious tension. And according to Religious Tolerance website, here in America there has been lynching of Neo-Pagans by Christians. There are people who kill in the name of their religion, their god, every day. This should not be happening in our time. Murder and intolerance is the mark of the uncivilized- and if we are truly civilized we will no longer persecute people for their beliefs, or lack thereof.
We must also realize that religion is blinding people from scientific truths. Darwin’s theory of Evolution is back on the controversy boat because it offends some religions (primarily Christianity).
Religious intolerance affects future peace. For if you cannot accept people who are of a different faith, you cannot accept peace. For if you say you want peace, and yet you hate someone because of his or her religion- that makes you a hypocrite.
Let’s face it – religious intolerance has and will affect us all. But how can we fix it?
I have heard some people say that the Bible or the Q’uran is the only book they need to read, but it is this kind of mentality that causes the problems of this world. We all need to open our minds to new ideas, and other cultures. We need to break out of this cycle of ignorance. Humans have the right to believe in whatever deity they chose to believe in. One is not greater than the other. We none of us have sufficient evidence for our supernatural claims. Religions come and go with time, and we’d do well to remember that.
One step you can take is when having conversation with someone; try not to heat it up by being closed-minded. If someone has an opinion about something that contradicts your personal beliefs- don’t lash out at them. Do not threaten them with eternal hellfire and damnation. Do not threaten them with violence.
Also, I when you leave this classroom today, I want you to have an open mind about religion. And if you see someone being ostracized for being a Wiccan, for example, help them out- don’t let your fellow human beings suffer because they aren’t members of the most popular religions. We have to remember the innumerable amounts of people who were tortured, burned alive, executed, shunned from society because of their beliefs. Remember the Holocaust- Jews killed for being Jewish, The burning of Pagans and heretics after the fall of the Roman Empire. Atheists are denied from having public office.
And we cannot peacefully live in a country where one religion dominates and the rest are neglected. If one religion tries to change the laws according to their beliefs, and tries to impose their religious culture onto others, they are the enemies of justice.
If we can all just cease to push our beliefs onto others- the world will be more peaceful. We all have the right to live without being persecuted for our beliefs. And according to the Religious Tolerance website.
“No peace among the nations without peace among the religions.
No peace among religions without dialogue between the religions.
No dialogue between the religions without investigation of the religions.“