Strength lies in the freedom to choose

Can different religions peacefully co-exist?

I answer with an emphatic yes!

Different religions can and should peacefully co-exist. We have an article of faith that states, “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege; let them worship how or where, or what they may.”

I strongly believe that if every man who professed a religion actually lived according to the precepts of that religion, the world would be a much safer and happier place.

I have ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War, which allowed us as a country to enjoy freedom of religion.

A modern-day prophet has said, “I hope to always find myself on the side of those defending freedom of religion. Our strength lies in our freedom to choose. There is strength even in our diversity. But there is greater strength in the God-given mandate to each of us to work for the uplifting and blessing of all his sons and daughters, regardless of their ethnic or national origin or other differences.”

My humble hope and prayer is that all who profess a religion are able to embrace the truths they actually believe in and live them.

— Duane Tippets, Anniston Ward,

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

 We can disagree with love and respect

This is a difficult question because it requires layers of answers. First, historically it has only been possible for different religions to peacefully co-exist in cultures that are founded in the Judeo-Christian (Western) worldview. This is because the ethic of Christianity and Judaism is built on the imperative to love your neighbor as yourself. The command to love others the way we love ourselves allows different views to co-exist peacefully.

In the East, and especially in Islamic countries, there is no peaceful co-existence or freedom. The problem for these countries is that at the core of their system there is no ethic of love. Peaceful co-existence requires the belief that each person should be loved and respected regardless of our disagreements.

A second consideration is that peaceful co-existence does not mean that every person has to accept each religion as equally valid. While a true Christian can exhibit tolerance toward those who hold a different belief system, they cannot accept other systems as equally true to Christianity. Tolerance and acceptance are two different things!

Our nation will only thrive if we learn to exhibit true tolerance toward those with whom we disagree. We can passionately disagree with one another while extending love and respect.

 — Carlton Weathers, Grace Fellowship, Anniston