Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On religious intolerance

I had quite the day. For some time now, there has been a woman employed in our sales department who is what I consider below average in intelligence. I am not saying this to be mean or hurtful, but to give a little insight into the intelligence of a small-minded person.

I am Jewish, and have been for over 8 years now. I converted while a student at a local Christian University. I learned about Jews, I learned about Christians of all denominations. I searched my heart, found an incredible Rabbi and temple and made the decision to follow the Jewish faith.

This is NOT a decision that I came upon lightly, many hundreds of hours of research went into my decision and it is one that I stand by 100%. I know that this was the right decision for me, but I would never even begin to think that this is a right decision for everyone else.

Today started out normally, until my co-worker decided to bring her prejudice and narrow-mindedness to the table and inform me that the Mormon Church is a cult. Why was I so offended, you might be wondering. I believe that religious persecution in any shape or form is wrong. I respect all religions and I have no notion that any religion is superior or inferior to my own. I'm of the school that as long as you believe something, you're going to be alright. And if you don't know what you believe, that's okay. Be a good person and everything will work out in the end, that's what the law of Noah says, after all.

When C. discovered that repeatedly stating that the Mormon Church is a cult was not going to convince me, she decided that calling one of the pastors at her church would surely change my mind. No. If you are not intelligent enough to debate with me from your own knowledge, then there is no debate. I win by default because you cannot defend your point.

When I told C. that I did not care to hear the opinion of her pastor, even though "he was a professor at your college," she began to attack me for being Jewish. Spouting something along the lines of me not really believing in Judaism and that she knew that deep down in my heart of hearts I didn't believe that crap. Who the hell are you to tell me what is deep down in my heart? Were you there the first time I walked into a temple and was moved to tears by how at home I felt. Have you seen the joy I take from Torah study and debate? Do you even know what the Torah is? (sorry that one was a little mean.)

C. and people like her (I know there are others out there, I just haven't been lucky enough to meet them yet) are the reasons that millions have died at the hands of Christians and Catholics during events like The Crusades and The Inquisition. People should not be allowed to be so narrow-minded. And some day, should I live a life worthy of meeting God, I want to ask him why people like C. exist. Surely it is to test my faith.

I have no doubt that if C. were alive during The Crusades, she would have burned me at the stake. She would have gassed me in a chamber during the Holocaust.

And as much as I want to hate her and others like her, I can't help but feel sorry for her. To be so ignorant that you can't allow another to have an opinion must be horrible. To never learn about the religions of others would be a detriment to me, personally. I take great joy in studying world religions and it saddens me that we can't all be so open-minded.

After the incident today, a very close co-worker (he's kind of an adopted grandfather to me) finally found out I'm Jewish. He told me how lucky I was and that he thinks it's wonderful. This man attends the Church of the Brethern every Sunday and is actively involved in his church community. What a wonderfully enlightened man I learned he was today.

I hope that my children will grow to be as religiously tolerant as I am, by following my example and watching how I live. And if they decide to be Buddhist, Muslim, Quaker, Catholic or whatever, I will love them just the same.

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