Most religious leaders teach Prejudice.
Followers of religions will probably condemn me for that statement.
I am catholic. I was taught since I was 5 years old that salvation is only through Jesus Christ. I was given a card with a black heart in Sunday school by the teacher because I refused to believe in that statement. I had this horrible imagination that my friend (a Muslim girl) also 5 years old would be going to hell. But as I grew older, I found out that she was not Muslim after all, her grandmother was Muslim.
I grew up with this doubt thinking that those who aren’t baptized as Catholics will not gain salvation. However, in 1969 I learned to put that doubt aside and firmly believed and convinced myself that all good humans are welcome into the kingdom of God.
Mormons would come by our house in Tumaga and preach their gospel. A lengthy discussion about salvation would ensue. One of my catholic friends lost the argument and was later converted over. He became a Mormon. We remained as good friends.
We all have a need to belong. It is our natural instinct to want to be with others. Specially around those who we love or have something in common. All humans except for maybe atheists (who convinced themselves that there is no God), have the need to believe in the supreme being or God. All religions know that this need to belong exist in us. They count on this basic instinct in us and capitalize on this. This is always the target when religion wants to keep us in its fold.
A religion is an organization that is always striving to exist and grow. In order to grow it needs to attract humans into its fold. But we have more than one religion or sets of beliefs in this world. Each vying for members to increase its membership. Whether they admit it or not, there is competition to attract and gather members into each of their fold.
An individual has his/her own preference for the type of religion he/she wishes to practice. However, some were not given any choice because they were born into the religion. So we all grow up favoring our own. That is natural.
For the sake of discussion, I would like to use music (rhythm) to compare with religion.
You are exposed to the type of music (rhythm) or religion depending where you originated.
Music or Religion is good for humans. Music (rhythm) and Religion help humans. But because each of us have preferences, we make choices. So if I tell you, I do not like “rap” music, it does not mean I hate it. It means, “I do not like it.” The person who does not like rap music can give you a series of reasons as to why rap is crap.
Using the same analogy , a person can say, “I do not like Christianity”. And he/she can come up with all kinds of reasons as to why it is not a good religion. He/she has his own religion that he/she practices. So to him/her other religions or beliefs are a waste of time and are not as good as his/her own.
You may even use sports into this analogy. Sport is not evil. Competition is not evil. So just as music and sports are used to unite people, religion is the same. People want to belong.
There is no hate or bigotry involved here. It is all just a matter of choice. We all cheer for our own team.
When members or followers and leaders of a religion become fanatics of their religion or ideology and lose all reason and refuse to accept the goodness in any other religion, problems begin to happen. They turned their religion or belief into a tool to express their bigotry and hatred. These are the type of people who hate anything that does not conform to their own convictions. Yet they themselves don’t call it hatred. They made their judgement and comfortably pull back and call themselves the “saved” and the rest the “lost”.
If you learned or accepted religion from books or scripted gospels then everything that you have learned are simply recycled thoughts, philosophies and words. They are not your own.
You are simply in the process of learning about religion or scriptures, just like learning history. It all happened in the past.
If you want to be a true follower of a religion or ideology and not simply learn its history and all the scripted sayings, you need to live those words that you have learned. You need to apply what you have learned here in the present. Apply what you have learned among the living around you. Good thoughts, good words, good deeds. You need to love and share without the need for reciprocation.
Many willingly share or give but then instinctively crave for gratitude or reciprocation. That is your instinct of “selfishness” floating to the surface.
Remember and follow the the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” Another way of saying it is: “Treat others the way you want others to treat you.”
Bullies do not follow the golden rule. Sometimes they need to be “reminded” of the golden rule or possibly an attitude adjustment.
Religious leaders need to follow the golden rule. The golden rule will help eradicate prejudice. The popular religions all teach about love and sharing. But in that same breath they pass on prejudice. The prejudice that the gate to salvation is only through them or their teachings.