Image credit: Steven Riggall.

As a white woman, living in a Western country and empowered by my rights and social constructions, it is easy to be ignorant.

Ignorant of the way in which a mother would want to raise her daughter. Ignorant of the way a man would come to understand his moral purpose. Ignorant of the traditions and histories of other cultures.

I could easily slip into the abyss of ignorance because of the lifestyle I lead. This, however, is the exact reason why I can’t be ignorant.

In a world that is constantly changing and evolving, the social constructions of the generations before us change too.

Due to this, it is important to understand that just because the way I have been raised, and the way that I choose to live, suits me, it is not the way for everyone to live.

This is particularly important to understand when considering religion, and religion in a world where very little is sacred anymore.

High school changed the way I think about religion. Within my circle of friends was the most eclectic assortment; a Jehovah’s Witness, three Mormons, a mottled mix of Catholics and Christians, an agnostic, two atheists and a spiritualist.

It taught us, both consciously and subconsciously, that the world is a place full of many people who live completely different lives.

The topic was not taboo, but it wasn’t brought up when we all got together to celebrate and catch up.

One day I realised that while all of these people were my nearest and dearest, I knew nothing about their religions. So I asked.

I came to realise that what I did not accept or believe, was someone else’s reality. It was a tangible part of who they are.

I could not judge them for what they were raised to live by or who they worshipped because I already knew that they were kind and genuine human beings. It was defining for me.

Now, I think about that all and consider the way in which the media portrays religion.

Religion, it seems, goes hand in hand with an act of violence, lunacy or disgust. The stereotypes are appalling; Christian priests and carnal knowledge, Islamism with terrorism, spiritualism with cults, the list goes on.

It makes you wonder how we got here. Once upon a time, we burnt witches. In places such as Papa New Guinea it still happens.

Some of the most famous people on television have dedicated their lives to a religion termed Scientology that is meant to have been created from a fiction novel.

These facts are all strange and foreign to some, and reality to others.

What is presented in the media changes the way we see the world.

In a time in which someone’s sexual orientation is on topic and the colour of your skin ever less important, shouldn’t we be looking about the very heart of the picture?

If it’s what you believe, and what you use as your moral compass, then surely it’s worth talking about.

This is part of a megastory on religion in Australia today. Visit the megastory here.

 

This article has been commissioned by Griffith University’s Multi-Faith Centre. For more information on the centre and its upcoming International Symposium on Religion Journalism, please go to it website: http://www.griffith.edu.au/conference/international-symposium-on-religion-journalism

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.

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