Updated: Jun 6, 2019
Blog by Raphael Shotikare
Edited by Josie Child
Why should young people engage with people of different faiths? As well as helping us to understand our friends better, it also allows us to learn about different faiths and what they look like in the 21st century. Jesus’ golden rule was to ‘love one another as I have loved you’, and I think that appreciating the differences in other people and taking the time to get to know them is one of the ways that we can follow this.
In society today, people of faith often experience discrimination and racism; fortunately, young people can help to combat these negative attitudes. All around the UK, increasingly diverse schools, colleges and universities are becoming more aware of the need to encourage students of different faiths to communicate with each other. It is interesting to learn how many times your friend prays each day, which teachings they learn, and what is sacred to them.
Celebrating the diversity of different faiths in the UK shows young people to accept others, to resist judging them, and instead to respect each other. Young people knowing and engaging with people of different faiths helps to make the world a better place, one person at a time. I believe that it also helps our communities to end prejudice and stereotyping, defuse tensions and resolve conflicts in an appropriate way. It can only be a good thing for people of all ages to widen their perspective and understand how someone else’s values differ from their own.
Interfaith engagement encourages communities to appreciate rather than merely ‘tolerate’ those who have different beliefs, traditions and values. When we see so much negative press about religion in the news and on social media, it can be easy to become prejudiced against that group. However, having a proper conversation with a real-life Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist person who you go to school or work with, or live next door to, will change your thinking. If we want to know about a faith, we can’t rely solely on sensational or shocking news stories; we need to get to know ordinary people.
In conclusion, I think that experiencing friendships with people from other faiths is important for young people because it demonstrates a willingness to understand and accept others just as they are. This is important for a healthy and cohesive society. It is beautiful to hear someone else’s story and to appreciate that they are pursuing higher fulfilment, even if that goal or perhaps the method is not the same as your own. So, we should do our utmost to enable and encourage different faiths to come together to show that we can be one big community, united rather than divided.
If you enjoyed this blog, please watch our video on this topic below!