Religion Divides This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   As I begin this piece, I would like to say that ithis essay was not written to offend anyone. These are observations and internal ponderings of a teenage boy growing up in a small town. My words do not have to be taken to heart, but I hope they are taken to mind.

Raised by a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, I found I had a unique perspective on religion. When I was young, I lacked formal religious instruction, but I decided to keep an open mind. From other children at school I heard of the fables and stories they were taught at their churches and temples. On Sunday mornings I learned not to call because they would be at their "Sunday School" classes learning those neat stories. As I grew, my friends completed their classes and went through confirmation and had their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, yet when I asked them questions about their religious convictions, they could not always answer me. Questions like, "What do you pray or sing about in church?" or "What does your religious teacher preach about?" It seemed like my friends were being told what not to do and who not to like; their world was being tightly defined. Their doors to other people and ideas outside their religion were closed, as labels were applied.

While I flipped the television channels looking for good cartoons each Sunday morning, my friends' beliefs and morals were being laid out for them, along with prejudice and stereotypes. I came to the realization as I entered my teenage years that this narrow-mindedness had been taught. Some of my fellow students thought less of me and others because of our lack of formal religious beliefs. My morals were questioned because they were my own and threatened theirs. Cruel religious jokes and references circulated in the hallways and forever changed friendships.

I believe that religion is humanity's attempt to explain the world and offer some security as well. It sets up moral codes for people to live by so they will not kill each other. I believe that different religions should be able to coexist, but when religions conflict the people feel threatened by each other's beliefs and become defensive. My experience through the years is a microcosm of what happens throughout the world. In extreme cases wars occur because of these differences, for instance the Bosnia-Serb crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is ironic that organizations founded to bring people together and provide security at the same time separate and cause belligerence. I believe religion is putting up walls and alienating people because of personal beliefs and values. Religious organizations need to be seriously altered, and these barriers should be removed if we are to function as a whole and live together in harmony. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Pathfinder15325 said...
Mar. 4, 2011 at 10:11 am
i agree, religion can be a divider among people and closes peoples minds to some things
 
wiccan_gurl said...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 12:11 pm
i agree completely my school is much smaller than others in my area but i am always pushed away for my religon and i think there should be a change
 
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