While one would hope that Americans hold informed, respectful, and tolerant views of persons of all religious traditions (including those who have opted to not follow a religious paths) numerous studies indicate that most people have very limited levels of religious literacy. Sadly, one recent study found that there is a religious double standard regarding religious violence. More specifically:
- when people claim to be a Christian and commit violent acts in the name of Christianity, only 13% of Americans believe such individuals are really Christian whereas
- when people claim to be a Muslim and commit violent acts in the name of Islam 44% of Americans believe such individuals are really Muslim.
Christianity and Islam are two of the great monotheistic peace promoting Abrahamic faiths. The 31% gap in perceptions among Americans regarding whether or not one who commits a violent act in the name of one of these religions is truly practicing the religion he or she claims is unacceptable. I believe that it is our job to educate ourselves and our neighbors about the basics of the religions of the world. Ignorance and fear can and must be overcome.
- On a personal basis, what have you done to learn more about Islam in recent years?
- What interfaith or multifaith educational opportunities are available in your area?
- Over the next decade what types of intentional conversations, activities, and opportunities do you think have the greatest potential to bridge the current gap?