Religious Differences: Gaining a New Perspective With Your Family

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Every extended family has its differences.  Generations often have varying points of view on society and politics, but religious differences may cause the biggest strain if not handled delicately. In order to deal with the strain and stress created from religious differences, family members simply need to communicate and keep an open mind when it comes to different religious practices.

Growing Up in an Interfaith Family

Author and blogger, Susan Katz Miller,  grew up in an interfaith family where her parents placed significant importance on both religions. When she travels to see her Episcopalian in-laws, she brings her menorah. For her, it’s vital to include both religions in holiday celebrations and combine the faiths of the extended families.

She noted a change in the way families today approach religion. Miller said, “There’s a generational shift in our acceptance, and our relationships are crossing boundaries, whether that’s race, religion, or culture.” It seems the stigma of marrying someone of a different faith, culture, or race is fading away as new generations take the place of the old. So, how do you approach religious differences?

Be Open Minded

You should always try to be open minded with most things in life but especially with religion. We are all unique, and the country is a blend of cultures and religions. It’s okay to stand firm in your beliefs but be fair with the beliefs of others. One way to practice open-mindedness is to take a highly emotionalized topic such as religion and take the opposite stance. Learn more about that side and pretend to argue in favor of it.

Practice Tolerance

Your religious beliefs are incredibly important to you, and so are those of your extended family. Religious tolerance means allowing others to have different religious beliefs from yours and practice their faith. We must all accept that others think their beliefs are true and accommodate their needs. A perfect example is Miller and her menorah. Her extended family includes her practices and beliefs in their holiday celebrations.

Consider It an Educational Experience

When confronted with religious differences with your extended family, consider it a chance to learn more about a different culture or religion. Who wants to go through life without having new experiences or learning about different customs and beliefs?

Take the time to get to know the differences in your family members’ religion and learn more about their practices. Education is necessary to reduce bias and disperse false beliefs. It’s also the best way to learn how to incorporate their religious practices with yours.

Mixed faith families have the opportunity to learn so much from each other. It builds stronger relationships and special connections. Each person can appreciate the different ideologies to make holidays special, and all family members welcomed and warm.

Last Updated:
First Published:
November 5, 2019
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