Too often we see media reports about the violence and intolerance that religious fundamentalism engenders. Religion is used to justify terrorism, to discriminate against those who are different and to resist scientific advancement inherent in our modern lives.
Religion can reinforce tribal mentalities. Some identify with their faiths as if they were members of a private club privy to a secret of which others are ignorant. Conflict arises when different groups insist that only their paths to salvation are the correct ones. But if God is truly infinite and ineffable, then by definition no religion as conceived or practiced by a finite human mind could hope to portray accurately or completely an infinite divine.
We fear what we do not understand. Creating opportunities for those of different faiths to interact can reveal that behind the doctrines of these faiths, we find many similarities. For example, the Golden Rule (“treat others as you would like to be treated”) is found in every one of the world’s religions. But one of the greatest benefits of interfaith dialogue is that by studying another’s faith we might learn a bit of wisdom, a new way of looking at reality, that we can incorporate into our own. Here is just a single insight from each of the five largest religions — Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity — that might have meaning to someone from another tradition: