Why I DO care what you believe

If there’s one phrase I hear used a lot when it comes to discussing religion, it’s “I don’t care what you believe, as long as you’re not a jerk about it” or something along those lines. I suppose that approach is quite helpful in many cases – not refusing to associate with somebody just because their beliefs differ from yours. If everyone were to follow that ethic, we’d have fewer terrorist attacks, fewer fundamentalist church demonstrations, and fewer families being split apart. But if I used the above quote every time someone voiced their beliefs to me, more often than not I’d be lying. A part of me does care what others believe, not necessarily because I want to convert them, but just because it seems to me like the friendly thing to do. All too often do I find myself supposed to be in conversation with someone else, even if it’s a member of my own family, but not actually showing a great deal of interest in what it is they’re talking about. Heck, sometimes I’ll even think about how much I’d like to talk about my subject of choice instead. But that’s really not how conversation works; it’s very much a two-way thing, and it needs both people to be equally ‘there’. Interfaith relations, like any other relations, thrive on people being able to talk about their views without being shut down, and that requires us not just to listen to others’ sides of the story, but to be interested in them too.

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