Let’s be proud of England’s religious tolerance. It’s easy to forget that we don’t live in a country, where religion (or lack of one) is forced on us. Even in the US, President Trump has managed to convince his voters that Muslims are dangerous (even London mayor Sadiq Khan asks people not to consider Muslims as ‘angry men with beards)’. The media has a lot to answer for here.
But it’s not just anti-Islamic rhetoric. We have a world where Catholics bash Protestants (which used to be the same religion, until Henry VIII created a new version, so he could get divorced). We even have priests and vicars not allowing yoga teachers to help old ladies with bad backs. Also see marrying animal welfare and religion (includes vegan cookbooks of Jews and Muslims).
It’s strange that since the idea of religion is to help others, that so much religious intolerance does the opposite. For example, a ‘traditional Christian family’ in the US may exhibit all the wonderful values you would expect. But it then may vote for Trump (who drops bombs on other countries, killing civilians), revokes environmental laws to protect families, and creates a culture of fear with other religions and races. Some religions make people who are different in any way feel rejected, from gays to suicidal cases to those who are infertile. All Christian politics revolves around ‘family values’, as if nothing else matters.
Most religious fear-mongering is just a form of bullying (often from fearful people themselves). Just ignore it, and go on your own spiritual path. We have a head start in England, as we are pretty tolerant bunch: you’ll have to go a long way to find a redneck racist over here. So have a nose through these resources, and pick and choose a few that take your fancy. Amen!
He would be seething at his death (and his life) being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate, that he gave his everything fighting against. What Jack would want from this, is for all of us to walk through the door he has booted down, in his black Doc Martens. Borrow his intelligence, share his drive, feel his passion, burn with his anger and extinguish hatred with his kindness. Father of Jack Merritt (who with his colleague Saskia Jones) was killed by a terrorist on London Bridge.
Tolerance in Christianity
- The Priest Who Left His Religion is the story of an ordained Catholic priest, destined to be the first American Pope. Ordained in 1965, he quickly rose up the ranks, but was shocked at many of the Church’s disavowal of scientific evidence. Tormented, he left the Priesthood and embarked on a struggle to embrace science and spirit.
- Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings is a collection of lessons of peace, love, patience and kindness by these two influential teachers. Jesus in the Lotus draws on deep knowledge of Christian scripture and Hindu philosophy.
Tolerance in Buddhism/Hinduism
A common confusion in Eastern religions is the difference between reincarnation and rebirth. Hindus believe in reincarnation (if you’re bad, you come back as a gnat!) Whereas Buddhism believes in rebirth (more like your energy carries on, to reincarnate in a different body). Someone compared this to playing snooker: A Hindu thinks the pink ball is potted in the corner, and comes back as another pink ball, but with a different coat. Whereas a Buddhist thinks the red ball hits the pink ball, which comes back as a new pink ball, carrying the energy of the red ball! And how you purify your energy is by living a good life, forgiving everyone, balancing your ‘stuff’, so that next life’s lessons won’t be so difficult.
Failing to make the most of our precious human re-birth to cultivate virtue, is sometimes likened to visiting an island littered with precious jewels. And not picking up any, before returning home. A lost opportunity, unlikely to be repeated for a very, very long time. David Michie
Tolerance in Islam
- Seven Pilllars is a book about what really causes instability in the Middle East. It’s not religion, as the US would have us believe. Government has never solved the issues, because that’s what they focus on. The answers in this book are more practical, from all sides.
- Islam and the Future of Tolerance is an intelligent and thought-provoking book on why people have such mixed-up messages about Islam, which is essentially a peaceful religion. But it is true that a few Muslims get drawn to extremism, so how can they be prevented going this way, and helped back to peace if they do? This book explains words heard on the news like jihadism and fundamentalism. It’s a friendly dialogue between an atheist neuroscientist and a former radical.
If I could have but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy flowers. For they would feed my soul. Quran
Inspiration for Spiritual Seekers
- Spiritual Rebel is a 3-week program of ‘dip in’ spiritual practices by Sarah Bowen, who grew up as the daughter of a preacher. She gradually found her own way to practice her faith, and the titbits she offers to fit your shoes include forest bathing, meditating with animals, kirtan (sacred chant), reading spiritual texts and visiting spiritually-charged places. She runs an animal chaplaincy, performing ‘sacred send-offs’ for furry friends. And also works with One Spirit, an organisation set up to foster peace between all religions.
- Anna Sayce is an interesting intuitive who has dozens of lovely articles to read on spirituality. She blends all kinds of beliefs (Mary, Jesus, angels, Eastern faiths, Nature) and believes in the Divine of everything.
- LIFEexplained is an interesting bunch of videos by a German spiritual seeker, who explains how life works, with fun cartoons. The son of an atheist (due to seeing horrors during the war), his father re-visited after death, to tell him that he was right, and go tell the world. So he did! The videos cover karma to afterlife, to why Coronavirus happens.
- The Interfaith Alternative is a book by an Interfaith teacher. He writes that 3000 years after Moses, 2500 years of Buddha, 2000 years after Jesus and 15000 years after Mohammad, we are still divided by our differences. Instead of praying only with those we share faith with, he suggests a powerful alternative to religious lines in the sand.
- The Little Book of World Religions is a nice little guide to learn about all the major world religions. Read about their history, beliefs and personalities, and understand the spirituality side of anyone.
Tolerance within Atheism
Many people in England and beyond are atheists, and the same tolerance applies. It’s unusual in many countries. In his book Healthy at 100, John Robbins looks at the similarities between the world’s four longest-living cultures: in Pakistan, Japan, Russia and Chile. Aside from all eating similar food and having strong community and respect for elders, they all share faith: when asked, not one knew what an atheist was! This was common back in the day, when people lived with the land.
‘Professional atheists’ like Richard Dawkins do have good points about the failings of American religious fundamentalists (he’s correct in that you are more likely to be certain religions, depending on where you grow up). But many top scientists are unimpressed with his arguments, which they find pretty weak, saying science has to be open-minded in case of new evidence.
A view shared by TV scientist Brian Cox, who said that MPs stating they are ‘quoting the science’ around Coronavirus cannot be true, as there is no such thing as ‘the science’. It’s a moving target. He is not sure of whether there is a God or not. But suggest that it’s arrogant to say you know, if you don’t really know. Many religious leaders and atheists use the same arguments for their faith or not (like Hitler and Pol Pot were atheists: when in fact both of them had partly Catholic upbringings: the latter even spent time studying in a Buddhist monastery). The truth is not so easy to put in a box.