As a writing major, we’re constantly taught to find real world examples that relate to the works we read. Case in point: I’m taking a Shakespeare course this fall, and we started the course by doing an introduction to Elizabethan England and the world of Shakespeare. All I can say is, what a bloody and violent time—especially when religion gets involved. But have things really changed that much? Yes, and at the same time, no. Religion is still a hot button issue even in today’s world, and college is no exception.
I’m a senior at La Roche, a tiny liberal arts college in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. In a school of less than 2,000 people, 20 percent of the students are from other countries, and the vast majority of those students are Muslim (and really cool people). Most of the people I’ve met in college are open-minded and accepting. But not everyone. In 1500s England, it was Catholics vs. Protestants. In twenty-first century America, it’s Muslims vs. the rest of the country.
Religion has always played an important role in my life. I was raised in a Christian family that went to church every Sunday. I went to Faith Formation every Wednesday after school. But I don’t see myself as superior to everyone else just because I’m Christian. And I don’t understand why some Americans are so threatened by anything or anyone that’s not exactly like them. America was first colonized by people seeking religious freedom and the Constitution establishes separation of church and state. So what’s wrong with people exercising their constitutional rights? Absolutely nothing.
Politics aside, I think it’s very sad that an entire religion is being demonized because of the actions of a few. As someone who’s taken religion courses and who reads a lot, I can say with authority that terrorists are not Muslims. They’re fanatics who pervert the teachings of a peaceful religion to suit their own evil agenda. The vast majority of Muslims are horrified by the actions of terrorists. And it’s not just Islam. There are fanatics in every religion. For example, the KKK is a hate group associated with Protestant Christianity. Yet the vast majority of Christians are horrified and disgusted by the actions of the KKK. Christianity and Islam are supposed to be peaceful religions that teach love, acceptance, and devoting oneself to God. The actions of a few evil people should not demonize millions of innocent people. We are all human beings. Gender, race, religion, ethnicity…none of that matters. We’re all people. We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, no matter what religion we believe in.