Last Tuesday, a group of Christians gathered to discuss the many negative stereotypes of Christians.
The stereotypes were written on pieces of paper and placed into a box. The box was then opened and read to all of the attendants. As words such as judgmental, closed-minded, overzealous, and oppressive were read aloud, I could see the obvious insult on many of the attendees’ faces, however, one could not deny the sense that many of these were quite accurate at times.
Once the cards were read, the group began to discuss many of the stereotypes mentioned. It quickly seemed to be that the theme of the discussion would be a dichotomy of the older Christians who had become set in their ways, and the more open-minded and liberal youth.
When discussing the close-minded stereotype, one attendee spoke of a conflict that rose between a group of youths and the church when they were told that the church, predominantly composed of elderly individuals, would not accept a black or woman pastor. The attendee was shocked by their reaction and said that the youth of the church did not feel the same way as the elder members. Acts like these that people removed from the situation would superimpose negative stereotypes unto all individuals of that faith.
The same thing could be said for individuals of all faiths. When one group of people set in their outdated ways or a group of extremists act out, the populace assumes that everyone of that faith must feel the same. Unfortunately it is always the most ignorant who are the loudest, and this minority is responsible for much of the religious tension in the world today.
Religion still plays a large role in society today, and, unfortunately, is still used as a tool of oppression and wielded as a weapon. Over the last few years, we have witnessed growing tension between Muslims and Christians even in America. It’s the stereotypes that we generate of people on both sides that stifles the synergy that should exist in today’s day and age.
I commend the school on conceiving Faith Week and I believe that it is little workshops such as the discussion I attended that will help dismantle the unease between people of different faiths and help us progress as a culture. Religious persecution is a barbaric concept, but it is still around today. It is easy to point the finger, to make a quick summary of a whole group rather than taking the time to learn more about them, and perhaps that is why we do it.
If the discussion showed me anything, it’s that there are countless people in our generation that are willing to accept people of all faiths, backgrounds and sexuality. It’s only a matter of everyone opening their mind, of everyone taking the time to explore and encounter people that are very different from themselves. We are not like the past generations, we are in the process of embracing people of differing sexualities, we have elected a black president, we are encountering and accepting people from all countries, all point to the fact that we are beyond becoming stuck in the rut of old traditions.