Faith is not bound to stereotypes

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Michelle Wong

 

After a professor laughed and asked, “Is there anyone in here that actually believes in Creation anymore?” and actually waited for any sheepish first-years to raise their hands, I was 100 percent done.

Our student body comes from a rainbow of different places and religious backgrounds. Still, there are many religious misconceptions that exist as obstacles, separating the student body.

There are so many stereotypes surrounding faith in general, but they could easily be cleared up if we asked each other some questions rather than making assumptions. Just a few of many popular assumptions are that those who believe do so blindly, because of their families’ religion and are most likely naive to the cruelties of the real world, and that those who identify with a faith believe the same as those most publicized in the media.

Some argue that all who possess faith do so with no logic to back it up, believe in a God because they are naive to the evils of the world and have simply accepted the faith they were dealt as a child. This may be the case for some, but even strict Amish communities provide their children with a choice.

In more common situations, young adults are brought up in one religion and are made to participate while under their parents’ roofs. Once out of the house, one can always live a religious life out of habit. But the fact remains that, once left with yourself, you cannot fake faith.

Faith is a personal belief, and true faith is always a choice. Faith is believing in your heart that something exists. Often, it is from a strong conviction, sparked by a sudden (sometimes heart-breaking) life event, and is supported by discoveries in personal studies. Naivety is the opposite of faith. For a naive person, faith has been poorly planted. Some of the strongest believers I know are those who have also suffered great emotional trauma, and are refugees from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An even more common, sad assumption is that once you identify with a faith, you accept every belief associated with it, and that religion is exactly how it is portrayed in the media. More realistic insight is less-simply stated.

Any faith based on a religious text is open to numerous interpretations, making it uncommon for one to agree with every single belief in his or her chosen religion. If you try talking to someone about their faith, you might find that they don’t agree with everything that one might traditionally assume.

Religious stereotypes perpetuated by the media cause people to make all kinds of wild assumptions. It is our job as media consumers to know our facts before assuming anything.

So many Muslims have to face Islamophobia on a regular basis, ranging from verbal harassment to physical harm in the US and various European countries. Because of violent extremists, many think all Muslims support violence, which is far from the truth. Many Muslims don’t consider their violent counterparts as fellow Muslims at all—only terrorists.

It’s always better to ask people questions, rather than allow them to exist in your mind as even a mild stereotype. People who identify with any faith have their own reasons; if you talk to them, you’ll find many are not as naive as you would think. Having taken the time to evaluate their faith, you might find their faith to be very personalized to them.

Try not to associate any whole religion with their reputation in the media, because it’s unhealthy for an acceptance-promoting campus.