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This article is based on my personal experience and views. I am a secular person, and am against fanatical behaviour. However, I am extremely open to teachings expressed in a respectful manner that do not put down anyone else’s way of life.
I’ve been brought up to believe that religion is a personal matter.
Coming from an armed forces background, I never cared about whether my friends were of a different religion- they were my playmates, and that was that.
My family has taken me to places of worship of all religions since childhood, and I grew up viewing God as a single entity, not one that differs from religion to religion.
However, as I grew up, I realised that the world wasn’t as secular as I thought it was.
It’s funny how the most unassuming of people can turn out to be hardcore religious fanatics.
I was close to someone during my BA who started off like a regular guy with modern views, but ended up being a super conservative Christian who
- Didn’t believe in evolution
- Wanted me to attend church with him once, and when I did, expected me to do it every single week
- Gifted me a Bible
- Almost successfully brainwashed me, a gullible 19-year-old at the time.
However, I started to feel quite stifled in his presence, and a talk with my family made it very clear that he was trying to bring me over to his way of life.
Once I realised where this was heading, I cut all contact- while I am respectful of all religions and go freely to all places of worship, I do not appreciate people trying to brainwash or convert me.
It’s interesting to note that all the attempts at conversion begin subtly.
“Just accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you don’t have to officially convert.”
I have heard this line from a friend’s father, my no-longer friend, and some colleagues who also politely informed me during our friendly debate that since I’m not a Christian, my family and I won’t be going to Heaven.
More explicit advice, or rather, warnings
When I was doing my masters, I had paid a visit to the Spanish mosque in Hyderabad with my friends.
Since the architecture was extremely unusual, we clicked a picture outside the mosque.
An employee of the mosque saw this, and gave us a long lecture about how the devil controls people to take photos (???) and that it’s an evil practice that takes us away from God, and that he himself has deleted all his pictures, even those of his wedding.
Not safe even in hospitals!
When I was in high school, I remember going to the hospital with my parents. While in the waiting room, a somewhat elderly man beside me decided to start a conversation.
He had noticed the red thread on my wrist marking me as a Hindu, and proceeded to go on a rant.
He informed me that he was a Bengali Brahmin, and that it is due to the work of several other Bengali Brahmins (here he rattled off a list of names) that I, a South Indian, am a Hindu, and didn’t get converted to Buddhism centuries ago, unlike the Buddhist wave in Sri Lanka.
He proceeded to extoll the virtues of Hinduism and Brahminism, while simultaneously putting down non-Hindus and non-Brahmins.
When I started arguing with him, telling him that his views are super outdated and also historically questionable (yes, 2 sick people arguing over religion in a hospital- picture that), he said that as my elder, he knows more than me, a naive child who needs to learn more.
What a nice way to shut someone up!
No patience for all this
There is enough violence and discrimination happening in the world on the basis of religion.
As “woke, educated people,” shouldn’t we be part of the movement towards secularism and equality?
What is the point of studying a lot, getting educated in an atmosphere where people of all faiths and backgrounds are treated as equals, only to go back to your bigoted views and one-upmanship in the personal setting?
I’m all for following your religion however you want in private, but I don’t know when people will understand that religion is one of those things that needs to STAY PRIVATE.
I’m quite sure that God Himself is loving and kind, and is not a bigoted person who discriminates against His own creations, so why on earth do we humans not understand that?
These are questions that will probably be greeted with more pointless arguments from fanatics.
Image Credits: Google Images
Find the author online @samyukthanair_