Religion is a complicated issue that everyone gets uncomfortable about. Scholars, from both the theist and atheist sides, debate about the validity and existence of a God or Gods. Some hardened believers will kill, discriminate, hate and reject those who do not follow their religion. While most religious followers are mostly of the kinder nature, there are those who embrace their faith in such a way it becomes toxic to be around and can lead to discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, culture and even of opposing faith. This becomes a stereotype for those who are religious as being possibly crazy or hate filled fanatics. This can also be applied to those who believe in a supernatural world yet are not religious themselves. They are considered strange for following ideas that are not considered mainstream.
The difference between faith and religion is that faith is not based on a global structure of power and influence. In faith, you do not have someone at the head leading those who have surrendered themselves to this head. In faith you have control in what you believe in and what you adhere too. As an individual, you set your own rules and norms that fit within your experience.
Yet, where can these decisions lead to, a life of spiritual enlightenment or making irresponsible decisions? The spiritual can believe in many forms of a god or gods ranging from ancient Egyptian, Norse, Wiccan or spiritual teaching. Individuals that are faithful to their own idea of god and form norms and values that they consider right. They set their own rules and follow it like doctrine. However, some of these decisions can be harming such as neglecting vaccinations due to fear. This distinction is important as people confuse the two as being the same.
Religion, therefore, is different from faith. You can have faith in the supernatural without being religious but most who are religious are faithful to the deity they follow. A religion is like an extended family that you do not really know, but, are sure will protect you. Religion also gives guidance on matters that the church considers in opposition to their ideology as sinful. The major world religions aim to provide a manual for those who are lost in the forward march of life, who need guidance when they are lost, to follow by example those who are revered as saints or religious figures of the chosen by their God.
The most important fact everyone has to face, no matter what creed you follow, is to care about others and the well-being of the whole human race. Do not let cultural differences lead to hatred.
Akane Simpson is a sophomore computer science major from Portmore, Jamaica.