Editorial: Why the religious divide is probably never going away

There was one line from this issue’s Arts & Living story on the Secular Student Alliance (page 9) that is hard to ignore. Michael Nelson, president of the organization, touched on the tension between religion happening in our day by saying “if we want to survive then we must figure out how to see past our differences and learn to better appreciate the diversity of our opinions”.

Easier said than done. Religion has here and there fallen between The Signal’s behind-the-door conversations and though most of us have opinions landing all over the spectrum, it’s never been a cause of arguments. So there’s definitely a way to just get over it and move on despite different beliefs – when you’re a university paper.

In real-world contexts, it seems – and it’s with a heavy heart we say this – almost impossible and worst of all hopeless, to expect for people of different religions to just get along.

First, let’s look at the most obvious pointer. The battle field that so many are trying to draw between the Christian and Muslim religions. Have you tried convincing someone that can’t draw the line between ISIS and Muslims that they’re not in fact, the same group of people?

Despite the Quran having many different interpretations, the Muslim men and women we go to school with, shop alongside of, share secrets with, believe in a religion that promotes nothing but peace. ‘Islam is peace’ is the phrase used most often by those who are desperately trying to defend a religion that’s been misinterpreted by those who haven’t even bothered to do their research.

And maybe wanting individuals from different religions to ‘just get over it’ is way too far-fetched since, members of the Christian religion in America can’t even agree on their values. Remember those guys picketing outside the Plaza every other cloudy Thursday? They call themselves Christian, yet they’re spreading messages of hate on anyone who doesn’t look, talk and think like them. But then others who shake their heads at those signs call themselves Christian too. And another man might go home to his wife and call himself a Christian while disapproving of gay marriage, and another Christian woman a block away might be kissing her girlfriend. What are the guidelines for who qualifies to be truly a follower of that religion then?

There are countries in Europe that collectively identify under one religion but yet follow different lifestyles, living under different standards but greet each other at church without judgement or criticism for each other.

So there, it’s not the religions who are drawing people apart. Instead, it’s the people, twisting their faith to mean and stand for whatever creates the largest distance between them – and to us, that sounds like a problem that’s bound to stick around for a while.

What do you think about this topic? Submit Letters to the Editor to signalopinions@gmail.com