Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Limiting Prejudice

Talk is Cheap When It Comes To Religious Freedom

Very interesting article here about people's perception of other religions and their amount of contact with people of other religions. Very plainly, people who have more contact with others of different beliefs are generally more apt to have more positive feelings of their belief system, while the opposite is true. People with limited contact of other religions will tend to have a much more negative feeling and fear of other beliefs. In my opinion, this is a clear warning that we must have an open dialogue involving everyone if we are ever going to get along. This ignorance and fear of others is detrimental to society and can lead to some very serious consequences. Some people are so orthodox in their views that they are unwilling to change or compromise or even be accepting of other beliefs, but those of us who want to see the human race make it have an obligation to reach out to others and get to know their point of view and share ours and be open-minded and non-judgmental. We all come from different backgrounds and have been indoctrinated into one belief system or another or none at all and while it is my firm belief that current religions are based on mythology and not grounded in facts, I certainly respect others freedom to believe what they wish as long as it doesn't tread on my freedom to not believe it. It is important to be open-minded about others and come to the dialogue table and we will find we aren't that different from each other after all.

Some interesting findings:

Even if you do not start out loving them, getting to know your neighbor goes a long way to limiting prejudice, research has found.
The University of Munster study indicated that having personal contact with Muslims was strongly related to favorable attitudes toward Islam in every country. For example, in the former West Germany, 38 percent of respondents who reported a lot of contact with Muslims reported very positive attitudes; only 1 percent of respondents who had no contact held very positive attitudes toward Muslims.
In the 2002-2003 Religion and Diversity Survey, 90 percent of respondents said they would welcome Christians becoming a stronger presence in the United States, but less than six in 10 said they would be as supportive of Hindus, Buddhists or Muslims.
Yet when people met across faith lines, the experiences were mostly positive, according to the U.S. survey. About two-thirds of respondents said their contacts with Muslims were mostly pleasant; 6 percent said they were mostly unpleasant. Three-quarters said their contacts with Buddhists were mostly pleasant, with 3 percent saying they were mostly unpleasant.
The problem is contact is still limited. In the Religion and Diversity Survey, less than a quarter of respondents said they have had more than a little contact with Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims.
In the European study, less than 10 percent of the respondents said they had a lot of contact with Muslims. As a seeming consequence, the study showed what comes to many of their minds when they think of Islam are discrimination against women, fanaticism and, somewhat ironically, narrow-mindedness. What does not come to their minds are notions of Muslims as peaceful and tolerant.
Repression based on ignorance is a universal barrier to freedom.

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