Religion is the belief that a group of people hold regarding the creation of our known universe and has been a major aspect in shaping civilizations for thousands of years. Religion dates back to at least c. 3500 BCE in Ancient Mesopotamia, but continues to be a driving influence for billions of people across the world. Appreciating another religion may be difficult at first because of conflicting ideas or beliefs, but is necessary if you want to live in a diverse community and have a greater understanding of people with different backgrounds.
Method 1 of 4:Interacting With People of Different Faiths
1Visit a place where people practice diverse religions. Surrounding yourself with people who practice other faiths will make it easier to make diverse friends. Visiting an area that has a diverse religious makeup also allows you to interact with people of other faiths on a daily basis, whether it be at the store, your job, or at social gatherings.
Traveling to different countries can also expand your perspective and increase your knowledge of other religions and cultures.
If you can't afford to move, visit nearby metropolitan areas that have more religious and cultural diversity.
Some of the most culturally diverse cities in the world include Amsterdam, London, and Los Angeles.
2Converse about theology with people of different faiths. Being open to talk to other people about a faith that you don't believe in is important if you want to expand your perspective and appreciate people of different religions. While you may not agree with all their doctrines, you should be open to learning about their customs and beliefs.
Don't argue and fight with someone of a different faith. Accept the fact that you may both believe different things.
Some people may not want to talk about their faith, and you should accept it and move on.
If someone of a different faith asks you why you are asking him so many questions, or why you are so open to talk about religion say, “I'm trying to expand my knowledge and understanding of different faiths. I don't know a lot about your faith, and I'm trying to get a better perspective from someone who practices it.”
3Remain respectful and back off the conversation if it gets tense. There are 5.8 billion people who are affiliated with a religion and for many, it plays an important role in their lives. For that reason, it's important that you remain respectful at all times when discussing someone's faith. If you feel the conversation getting tense, just back away from the topic and change the subject.
Clearly communicating and remaining understanding and respectful will help you avoid conflict.
Don't tell people that your religion is superior to theirs.
Never tell someone else that her faith is “wrong.”
4Participate in positive activities with other faiths. Doing something positive as a community or friends will bring you together, even if people's religions are different. Planting a community garden, joining a softball team, or taking a class together will create a bond that transcends the differences in your religions.
There are non-denominational community groups that participate in community building.
To find a community group search on Idealist.org for volunteer openings in your area.
5Spend time with people that practice different faiths. If you're not used to mingling with people of different cultures and different faiths, then you may need to go the extra mile and network with people you know come from different backgrounds. Try to create relationships with people you meet at social events, work, or school who practice different religions. Make it a point to hang out with them and become friends with them.
The stronger your friendships become, the more comfortable some people will feel in discussing and explaining their religion.
Method 2 of 4:Respecting Different Customs
1Remain positive and practice tolerance. When you are tolerant towards other people, it creates a positive atmosphere, even in difficult situations. Try to stay positive and remember that other people may think differently than you, but that it doesn't make them bad people.
If you don't like someone's customs, but it doesn't affect you or harm anyone, keep your opinion to yourself.
If you really can't get along with someone, just walk away and reflect on your interaction. Revisit it later with a different person.
2Compare similarities in your religion to other religions. While customs, traditions, and important religious figures might differ, many religions share the same moral standards, tenets, and even sacred texts and holy sites. Find common ground and appreciate things that are similar, like the virtues of nonviolence, treating others with respect, and tolerance.
Judaism and Christianity use some of the same religious texts and both share the laws of the 10 Commandments.
Islam, Judaism, and Christianity share holy sites in Israel and Palestine.
Hinduism and Buddhism both share origins from India and have some similar beliefs, like the belief in reincarnation.
3Don't disrupt another religion's customs or rituals. Interrupting another religion's customs or rituals is a huge sign of disrespect, and could make people very mad. Even if you don't understand what's going on, or don't believe in the custom, let the people complete it without interruption.
If you're curious about a custom or ritual, wait until it is complete before asking any questions.
Remember to remain respectful and inquisitive and not judgmental.
4Ask questions and don't believe in media depictions of religion. The media creates different depictions of different religions, and many of them may not be accurate. Many reports from the media are stereotypes, and not indicative to the faith as a whole. Before passing judgement on someone from a different faith, ask questions about that faith.
Make sure to not incorporate negative things you've heard from the media or entertainment industry when talking to the person.
You can respectfully ask questions about a religion's clothing, customs, laws, or beliefs without offending most people.
Method 3 of 4:Educating Yourself on Other Religions
1Educate yourself on the origins and history of other major religions. While there are many smaller religions and subsets of major ones, most people in the world practice either Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Judaism. Educate yourself on the history and origins of these religions to get a fuller understanding of their customs and beliefs.
You can find most historical information on these religions online or at a local library.
It may be hard to research all five at once, so start with one you're unfamiliar with and slowly move on to learn the rest over time.
Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were derived in the Middle East while Hinduism and Buddhism were founded in India.
The age of each religion varies drastically in some cases. Hinduism is the oldest known religion that's still practiced and has been developed in India since 1500 BCE.
2Read the books of other faiths. Religious texts exist as standards and practices for major religions, and are great sources to better understand most belief systems. While your personal belief may lie elsewhere, reading and comprehending the texts will give you a better appreciation for other religions.
While Judaism has the Torah, Christianity has the Bible, and Islam has the Quran, most major religions usually have hundreds of associated texts related to the canon of the religion as well.
You can always pick up religious texts in your native tongue by looking online or at a bookstore.
3Talk to people about what their faith means to them. The best way to get perspective on other faiths is to talk to people that actively practice them. Ask them questions in a respectful way about how their faith impacts their life.
You can ask people about specific dishes that they eat during certain holidays, or customs that you're not sure about.
Most people will be pleasantly surprised when you take interest in their religion.Trustworthy SourceKansas University Center for Community Health and DevelopmentCommunity-based research center focused on supporting public health development and educationGo to source
4Visit important holy places of different religions. Holy places, or sacred sites are areas of religious significance and are often visited by people who practice the religion. Visiting them will allow you to experience the religion, in person, and give you special knowledge that can't be attained from books. In addition, it will allow you to surround yourself with those that follow a different faith.
Sacred sites can be found all over the world including countries like Nepal, India, China, Japan, Italy, France, and Israel.
Refer to a travel guide to find local sacred sites.
Method 4 of 4:Embracing Our Common Humanity
1Realize that regardless of religion, people are human, just like you. When you do not appreciate another group of people, it's very easy to forget that regardless of belief, everyone shares a commonality in having emotions and desires. Don't dehumanize another group of people, and if they are suffering, have compassion for them just as you would a family member or friend.
People of other religions also have families and friends and want the best for them. They might enjoy sports, or love the family dog, or get irritated with Grandma sometimes. Each person has many facets, and religion is just one side of who they are.
Recognizing that you, too, are much more than your religion may help you to think larger and apply that same concept to other individuals who may have a different religion.
All humans, regardless of race or religion share the same set of genes.
There are aspects of human psychology that transcend cultural, regional, and religious differences as well.Trustworthy SourceHarvard Business ReviewOnline and print journal covering topics related to business management practicesGo to source
2Find a common ground with other people. Our society is becoming increasingly polarized, so it's easy to feel like you are constantly at war with another group of people. While you may not embrace another person's religion, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy the same hobbies, sports, or entertainment. Try to find common ground with those people you interact with on a daily basis.
Instead of focusing on cultural and religious differences, talk about things that you both enjoy — sports, film, art, good food, literature, etc.
You may find a lifelong friend in someone that you would not expect.
3Focus on how your belief defines interactions with others. Most belief systems educate their followers to treat other people well, regardless of the differences in religion. Keep this in the forefront of your mind when you are being judgemental or critical on others.
In Islam, Allah said,"Allah commands you to uphold justice and to do good to others and to give to the relatives."(16:90)
In Judaism, it is a main tenant to treat others with kindness.
Buddhism teaches you to treat everyone just as you would treat those that are close to you, like family or friends.
The Bible teaches to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
4Consider the message you send to younger generations. We are shaping the world everyday, and our actions have reverberating effects. Think about the legacy that you are leaving behind, and whether it will be filled with hate and prejudice, or love and acceptance, and how that will affect the world after you're gone.
Many of your beliefs will influence your children, so it's especially important to try to achieve acceptance before their belief systems are fully formed.