Talking to Those With Different Spiritual Beliefs: A Helpful Guide

spiritual beliefs

Have you ever felt so different than everyone around you that it feels like you’re living on a different planet?

Whether that’s because they voted for the person you think is pure evil, they refused to wear a mask during a global pandemic, or they believe in a religion that is the absolute opposite of what you know is true – it feels harder to find common ground with people than ever before.

We can’t help with the mask or the political issues, but we can give you some tips about religious issues.

Even though it doesn’t seem like it, the majority of religions are based on the same basic principles: human kindness and self-improvement. The key to understanding others’ spiritual beliefs – or at least getting to a point where you can respect them – is to find common ground and focus on how that spiritual community makes you feel.

Need help with that? Learning tolerance isn’t something we’re taught, but it’s something everyone needs to learn.

1. Learn About Their Spiritual Community

People go to church for the community. It makes them feel like they’re part of something bigger. That’s likely part of why you go to church as well – there’s your first common ground. Before you get into the beliefs, talk to them about how being involved makes them feel.

How are they involved in their church? Is there a book club they go to every month? What kind of books do they read? Do they play cards, like bridge? By learning how they’re involved through their church, not only will you see that they, like you, value community, but you may find you have hobbies in common!

This person who you previously thought you had nothing in common with may be your new bridge partner – and there’s no reason to talk about religion when you’re playing cards!

Ask them about what kind of charity work their church does. Many churches provide services for the poor and needy. Wanting to give back to others is something everyone can relate to! And even if they say that charity is something that their church believes in – think about why.

While some people do charity work out of guilt, whoever wrote it into the scripture did so because they want to give back to other people and spread kindness – just like you!

2. Understand the Emotion Behind the Principles

Even the most restrictive religions’ principles are rooted in kind emotions. The ten commandments are a good example. Thou shalt not steal is a common principle that spans all religions. Don’t we all teach our children that?

The same is true for “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. That commandment asks people to be honest with their significant others and honor the vows (promises) they make. To go even deeper, it’s a respect for other people and for yourself.

“Though shalt not kill,” is one we can all agree with, right? It teaches us to respect the right for everyone to exist, whether we agree with the way they conduct themselves while they’re on earth.

Even the seven deadly sins have roots in emotions/lessons that we can all agree with. Gluttony teaches us not to be greedy, which is a community-based principle. Only taking what you need and not more keeps the community healthy and teaches people to work together.

3. Know that Extremists are a Very Small Percentage

Christian religions aren’t the only ones with principles we can all get behind if you break them down to the roots. Islam is one of the most popular religions in the world – yet it’s one of the most feared. The number of extremists there are in Islam is a tiny ratio, and their extremist beliefs go against the main pillars of Islam.

Almost 24% of the world’s population is Muslim, according to research done in 2015. That comes out to a little less than 2 billion people. Within a few years, there are expected to be more Muslims than Christians.

Less than 100,000 of those 1.8 million Muslims are thought to be extremists – though that’s a very rough estimate.

We’re not saying extremism isn’t a threat – but Islamophobia discounts the other 95 plus percent of Muslims that spend their lives giving to charity, respecting others, and who outwardly rebuke extremist beliefs.

4. Focus on Similarities Between Different Spiritual Beliefs

In the majority of religions, people believe that god, or whoever they see as the “leader”, values love. If we know anything about the world, we know that love is the one thing that unites us all.

If you want to have the quickest conversation about religion ever that will leave you both smiling, ask them how their religion talks about or believes in love. Most likely you’ll find out that they and their fellow believers try to ground their actions in love and kindness for other people, which is something everyone can get on board with.

And in the end – isn’t that what matters? Words are only words, but the intention behind the actions can unite us.

Set Your Boundaries

As much as we love uniting with other people about the intentions behind their spiritual beliefs, not everyone is as open-minded as you. If you have people that don’t respect your differences, you have every right to set boundaries.

That may be something as harsh as declaring that you don’t discuss religion at all with that person or asking them to refrain from making outwardly judgmental comments about your beliefs when they’re around you.

Starting that conversation with how you respect their religion will make the rest of the conversation go smoother and hopefully, your tolerance and willingness to learn will mirror the same actions in them.

Need some further guidance? Our spiritual advisors are available to answer your questions around the clock on our site. Find your perfect match, now!

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