Religious (in)Tolerance

by jellyfishcreationstory

Imagine a village.  It’s a somewhat unusual village: everyone in the village has come from somewhere else, and each family has different religious beliefs and customs.  Sometimes even different people in the same family have different beliefs.  


The differences aren’t small, either.  Sometimes one family will have a great big loud festival late into the night and keep the neighbors awake with all the noise.  One of the families can’t share meals at the others’ homes, because their dietary restrictions are so specific.  Another family refuses to visit any home with pictures of people or animals on the walls, since their religion doesn’t allow that type of artwork.  Some believe people are basically good and there should be few rules so their basic goodness can come out, others believe people are basically evil and need many restrictions and punishments to keep them good.

So there are many disagreements, and not everyone gets along well.  However, it is accepted by everyone in the village that everyone else has a right to their beliefs and customs, no matter how odd or inconvenient they may seem to anyone else.  Without this acceptance, there would be no village.

One child of the village grows up and moves to a far-away town.  This town is very different from the village.  Everyone in the town has the same religion with the same core beliefs, but there are many different factions, each of which has somewhat different beliefs and practices.  Most of these different factions think that their faction is the only right one, and actively tries to convert others to their faction.  When the villager arrives, he is immediately asked which faction he belongs to.  When he admits he doesn’t even belong to the same religion as the rest of the town, the townsfolk are shocked.  The poor young man!  He must be saved at once! 

The villager listens to the townsfolk and asks questions, as he settles into his new home, but he makes it clear he is comfortable with his beliefs and doesn’t want to change.  Whenever he says this, the townsfolk try twice as hard to convert him.

At night the villager lies awake, troubled.  He was taught from earliest childhood to respect everyone else’s beliefs, not only the ones that were similar to his, not only the ones that he liked, but all of them.  Even the family that thought bathing was sinful.  All beliefs were good to the people believing them.

So he knew he had to respect the townsfolks’ beliefs too.  He just wished their beliefs worked the same way.