John Kerry Acknowledges Importance of Studying Comparative Religion

John Kerry believes that understanding each other’s faith can lead to a healthier society.

Ever since the beginning of civilization, religion has played an important, even central role in the lives of people. Much of what we are today is the result of a society whose ideologies have been shaped by the religious evolution of humans. Religion has had a monopoly over legal, educational and most secular aspects of human life for ages. Today, however, there is a separation of state and religion, so that religion does not enjoy the kind of hold over all human activities today as it once did. Despite this, religion still affects the world in many ways, and happens to be one of the most discussed, speculated and controversial issues in the 21st century.

This is why the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, revealed that if he had an option to go back to college again, his choice of study would be Comparative Religion rather than political science.

His rationale? Religion has had more influence over people than politics. In fact, Kerry believes that politics has always functioned within the ambit of religion itself. As such, politics, he believes, is a narrower field that can be understood more deeply when people study Comparative Religion, as this would give a substantial background for understanding politics.

The Secretary further explains that almost all discussions today involve religion at one or the other level, directly or indirectly. He says that no matter which news channel a person tunes in to, he will find at least one reference made to religion, be it terrorism, Neo-Catholicism under Pope Francis, the rise of communal tensions in India, Islamophobia, or for that matter any issue that seems to be secular or “political.” Even countries that have atheist governments focus on religion as atheist and theism function together.

Kerry observes that in today's world, intolerance towards each other's faith is rampant. He says that the underlying reason for this is that each person understands only his religion and doesn't make an attempt to understand another's. As such, misunderstandings are bound to arise which eventually erupt in communal violence and hatred. He believes that by taking up Comparative Religion studies, people will have a better picture of all religions: their similarities and differences. This need to know every religion perfectly is all the more important for individuals who aspire to take on leadership and social roles, he says. Kerry believes that if more leaders take on Comparative Religion studies, biases will be lesser and society will be better able to get rid of the evils of communal hatred. 

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