Religious tolerance is needed

17 years ago

To the editor:
Pope Benedict XVI recently issued a statement that “the only true church in the world is that of Catholicism.” In partial response to this Papal statement, Mr. Roland S. Martin, widely heard, renowned talk show host on WVON-AM in Chicago stated “chalk it up to an old man trying to get a little attention” and that his comment “shows that he is wholly ignorant of the Scriptures that I have known all my life.” Both men have done a great disservice to their religious beliefs and have implicitly invited yet further religious fighting and bigotry.    All religions deserve respect and leaders of religious groups as well as followers of all religion owe it to the positive image of their own religion to be respectful of others’ beliefs. I understand that several religions believe they are obliged to try to convert others to their ways of believing. I personally have been approached numerous times by a wide variety of young and old persons tying to convert me. I respectfully thank them early on in their attempt for their interest and tell them that I am not interested and to please talk about another topic or go away. Most do; however, when a few do not, I get direct in demanding they leave or I depart.
Religion is an important part in people’s lives. It provides answers to those questions that can only be grounded in faith. Most religious experience centers about a community of believers, each giving validation, comfort, and support to each other. Much good has been done and currently is being done in the name of religion. Great acts of mercy, help to people in need, and acts of charity come from all religions. Wonderful art, music, theater, song, sculpture, literature, architecture, and other artistic expression have been inspired by and are depicted by artistic works.
Individuals, groups, and sects who demean, belittle, slander, or malign another religion or its leaders really lower their own standing. To show disrespect of others is to implicitly invite reciprocal disrespect; and these fights do no good to anyone.

Ken Petress
Presque Isle