All Religions Are Right and All Religions Are One

By Allison Mallone

There are three things that are never supposed to be discussed in polite company: Politics, money, and religion. Partially, this is because people are afraid to argue, but mainly because they don’t want to have their beliefs challenged and proven wrong. Because people love to be right, and even more, they hate to be wrong. But what if right and wrong weren’t in opposition? What if, instead, there was just difference, and acceptance of that difference as a natural part of life? With religion, for example, why must Judaism exclude the beliefs of Islam, or Buddhism prevail over Christianity? Why can’t all religions offer different perspectives on the same thing?

Tae, Hinduism, which is mainly practiced in India and parts of Asia, includes ethical values called “dharma,” that work as a moral guide for followers. This same principle of “rules” or guidelines of virtues is also present in Christianity in the Ten Commandments, which list both the most egregious sins one can commit as well as specific rules. “Thou shalt not kill” works alongside “respect thy mother and father” to establish a code of conduct for believers.

It becomes evident that the material included in such rules also aligns, proving that faith in one religion does not necessarily exclude the beliefs of another. Just like Christianity and Hinduism both emphasize the importance of treating fellow humans with kindness and respect.

Hinduism sets forth the precedent, “this is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” In essence, this is the same message as the Christian statement, “do to others as you would have them do to you.” This shared goal could overcome semantic differences present in the practice of the religions or where they originated. Philosophically, the statements aim to instill kindness and morality in order to live as a higher entity has directed.

The similarities extend well past just Hinduism and Christianity. Islam, too, agrees that “not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.” Confucianism: One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct… loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself. Judaism: “what is hateful to you do not do unto your neighbor.” The list goes on.

The concept that religions need not be mutually exclusive is integrated into the fabric of the Baha’i faith, a minority, monotheistic religion that originated in Iran. They believe that the similarities of religions outweigh their differences and, as a result, are not mutually exclusive. By obeying the rules of Islam, one may also be partaking in the values of Confucianism, blurring the distinction between the two.

Viana Kalili of the UCLA Baha’i club explained that because of this, the faith accepts other religions as part of “one world religion, and religions are kind of like chapters of a single book.” This is part of what the Baha’i faith calls “progressive revelation,” which is the idea that the prophets of different religions are sent by the same God to reveal different things to humanity at different times. Though the Baha’i faith is persecuted in its origin country of Iran, Kalili says that this is not because of its inclusive views but, rather, a result of being a minority religion in a theocratic society.

In response to the question of how others have reacted to the stance of the Baha’i faith, Kalili said, “It’s gone well…one guy was Jewish… and is a Baha’i now, and I asked him, ‘what made you want to be Baha’i,’ and he said ‘when I found out I could still be Jewish.’” In this case, changing religions was less of a conversion than a broadening of ideology. Because the Baha’i faith sees validity in all religions, he did not have to give up his original beliefs in order to consider himself a part of a new religion.

Contentions between religions and religious persecution have been historically severe, from the Crusades to the Holocaust, and even the modern conflicts in the Middle East. In these situations, being right has taken precedence over the teachings of the religions being “defended.” Kindness and respect take a backseat to the quest for dominance and power, undermining the very religion perceived as in need of defense in the first place.

Ultimately, ideologies are at odds far less frequently than individuals are. It can be truest to one’s religion to accept other religions as equally valid if they advocate for the same values, which many do. To achieve this requires confronting the question of what is more important: prioritizing a belief system or just the values behind it. Is it more important to be a Christian in name, or to simply share Christian values through one’s lifestyle? I believe the latter would be far more beneficial to society since the label of a specific religion is less impactful than the action undertaken in its name. At the end of the day, what you call yourself matters less than how you act. By analyzing the similarities found between so many religions, it becomes obvious that the call to action is the same. So why not obey the command to be kind to one another by accepting other beliefs as equally valid as long as they cause no harm?

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