Religious freedom, mass murder, Passover and the Easter bunny.

It’s the day after April Fools and unfortunately the news headlines are far from funny.  There is an overload of hullabaloo around a new religious freedom law that passed recently in Indiana.  I really don’t care what the CEO of a company in California thinks about a law 2,000 miles away.  Just another example of the ‘twitter outrage of the month’ syndrome that unfortunately affects how we think about the world’s current events.  If we focused on simply treating each other with dignity and respect, we wouldn’t need to concern ourselves about these laws or lack of them.

And on a more horrific scale comes news out of Kenya where nearly 150 were murdered on a college campus.  The terrorist group from Somalia who claimed responsibility specifically targeted Christians, while allowing Muslims to go free.  It’s sick and unfortunate that we live in a world like this.  So add Kenya to the list of countries I’m unlikely to travel to (but would want to) in my lifetime, due to the safety and security as a visiting tourist.

Both stories highlight the differences in religious beliefs in our society and how they impact us.  But religion doesn’t define a person, it never has.  Religion can give you a set of beliefs, a moral compass, but they do not create bigotry or hatred.  Unfortunately people hide behind their religion as a reason for their prejudices or as a justification for murder.

What does this have to do with my blog on parenting?  Because my kids are starting to explore their religious beliefs, so it’s been on my mind lately.  Personally, I was baptized as an infant and that’s where my religious training ended.  If solely up to me, I would be happy to help my kids develop a set of moral beliefs without aligning to a specific religion.  My ex-wife is Jewish, so the kids have had exposure to both Christian and Jewish holidays.  Recently, when my daughter wanted to learn more about God, the kids started going to weekend classes at the local synagogue.  2013-happy-easter-happy-passover-whatever-you-L-eQHy5a

What do I hope for them to learn?  How to be the best humans they can be.  How to be tolerant of others and their beliefs, open-minded, and treat everyone with respect.  They will both celebrate Passover and receive a visit from the Easter bunny this weekend.  I guess it’s one small step for religious tolerance…I only hope others can learn from their example.

This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple:  The philosophy is kindness.

– Dalai Lama

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