People talking at table

Why Talk About Religion?

For as the old saying goes, “Friends and family should never discuss politics and religion.” — Forbes, 2020

About half of U.S. adults tell us they seldom (33%) or never (16%) talk about religion with people outside their family. And roughly four in ten say they seldom (26%) or never (13%) discuss religion even with members of their immediate family. — Pew Research Center, 2016

Could this be the key factor underlying intolerance, discrimination and conflict among different faiths?

In 1785, James Madison wrote “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” which argued for complete religious liberty and against any form of state religion, contrary to what existed in England. This laid the groundwork for what would become the Bill of Rights and ​​its Establishment Clause, preventing congress from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” This laid the groundwork for religious liberty, but it was only accomplished by religious discussion.

Lack of discussion between different faiths may lead to turmoil, witness the religious conflicts littering the history books and headlining our news today. Religions differ from one to the next and one region to another: the different Protestant denominations do not agree on many beliefs yet all call themselves Protestants. Catholics in Mexico observe different rites than those in Europe, and Muslims of the Middle East have different religious customs than those of Southeast Asia. How much more difficult would the conversation be with Islam, Wicca, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Scientology, and any number of indigenous beliefs that are all in the same classification of religion?

Religious diversity is growing with people becoming interconnected with increased migration and the internet making these discussions possible everywhere. Cities and towns that once had little religious diversity are having to face the need to understand others’ beliefs. If we are to live in harmony and peace, isn’t talking about religion the key?