Of all the 6.9 billion people who dwelled on earth in 2010, 2.2 billion (31.4%) were Christians, 1.6 billion (23.2%) were Islam, 1.1 billion (16.4%) were either atheists, non-religious, or unaffiliated, 1.0 billion (15.0%) were Hindus, 488 million (7.1%) were Budhists, 405 million (5.9%) were Chinese Folk religionists, 58 million (0.8%) were new, tribal or other religionists, and 14 million (0.2%) were Jews, Jainins and Sikhs.
Population of religious groups around the world (2010)
Worshipers of most of the above religious and spiritual groups understand the real meaning of submitting themselves to the will of a Supreme Being (God) and practice the essence of humanity, which includes reaching out to the poor, lonely, hungry, widowed, orphaned and oppressed. This is because there is extreme poverty and hunger around the world. There are about 1 billion people who are living on less than $1 per day and about 2.8 billion people who live on less than $2 per day. We are all living in a world where there is pain and agony of war, corruption, and our children are succumbing to an artificial life of materialism.
Therefore, people flock churches, mosques, temples and other worship places to find spiritual security through communion with God. The Bible, Quran and other canonical and non-canonical texts indicate that where two or three are gathered together in God’s name, He will be in their midst. This may mean that God can also engage people outside the church, mosque or temple. It’s almost as though He sees the church as one, where people worship together, without walls, religions, denominations or faiths.
It therefore surprises me when people criticize other people’s faith and even want to impose others in their religious beliefs. When you criticize in a demeaning way to boost your own ego, when you say that your way is the only way to salvation, and unless others follow your way they will die in their self righteousness and have to pay for their sins in hell forever, you are criticizing something that is such a core part of how someone’s life is structured. You are criticizing the belief of mortals like yourself, who are struggling in this ill-laden world, and are, therefore truly and genuinely seeking the eternal, inerrant, infallible, inspired, and holy Word of God to lead them to the promised paradise after they die.
We need, therefore, to embrace religious tolerance, even when we do not agree with the other’s foundational theological positions. Tolerance is a virtue that allows us to coexist with people whose way of life is different from our own. It allows us to learn about other people’s beliefs and to understand the basis of those beliefs.
Yes I agree that it is common for humans to feel insecure, especially with those who “don’t do things like us” and therefore they are threatening. But it is a fact that people of other religions, spiritual beliefs and denominations are no different than us. They are kind, they struggle, they are gracious, they are judgmental and they are also working hard to connect with God. People are people. Some of them do bad things both inside and outside the places of worship, regardless of their religion.
I am aware that this article will most likely be misquoted and mischaracterized in an effort to demonize. But this happens always when anybody puts their thoughts out there on any subject. I expect even some backlash. But I have offered my two cents worth perspective.
Please let me know what your perspective is on this matter in the comments section below.