Why People Don’t Talk About Religion

Diane Medved – Remember when there were two topics not to be discussed in polite company lest someone become upset? Those two used to be politics and religion. No longer. Now, politics may be like a religion to many people, but talking politics reigns, as radio and Saturday Night Live, and outlets for our feelings–like this blog–let us spew our passions about current events to anyone with a smartphone or computer.

But the taboo against discussing religion is stronger than ever, as one’s faith is considered extremely personal. Unless you believe that it’s your duty and job to lead others to it.
For most people, uncertainty about God and what God wants is a bit disturbing, and sometimes brings guilt, confusion, doubt or discomfort. It involves many emotions, and rests in the intangible and un-provable. That’s why it’s called “faith.”

Making people uncomfortable isn’t a nice thing to do. Much better to avoid the topic and keep the relationship on an intellectual, real-life basis.

I confess that at our Shabbat table I made a mistake and asked two guests to explain, in one case what brought her into her religion, and in another case, what led him to leave it.
The one who came to her church said “it just felt right.” The one who left it said his research regarding the physical world caused him to disbelieve tenets of the faith.

As a psychologist, I love learning how people think. And I care about the people I invite for Shabbat, and want to know more about them. As a hostess,though, I’m a flop–I made two guests uncomfortable. I hereby apologize for putting them on the spot.

If you believe that scriptures are from God, and that they’re the truth, you’re going to be passionate about them. Other than from its own material, can any religion prove it’s correct, or that other people should believe it? Can anyone be objective about the religion he accepts as God’s word?

In a nation becoming increasingly diverse as immigrants from more varied homelands contribute their cultures and beliefs, it’s ever-more-difficult to insist any single faith is “the one.” The only thing adherents can assert is that it’s “the one for me.”

That’s why the Shabbat guest who answered “it just felt right” is as worthy of respect as the one who said, in effect, “it no longer felt right.” And unless you want to get into doctrines–and who does?–what kind of conversation is that?

Much better to just let it go. It’s part of our tolerance trend, or the “whatever gender you say you are” shrug, or our “as long as nobody’s hurt” acceptance. Sure, you can do your religion, and I’ll either do mine, or, as increasingly politically correct, I’ll do none, thank you. Not talking about religion now falls under the banner of respect. You can’t knock respect.

Except when you’re talking about politics…

2 replies
  1. Filipa
    Filipa says:

    Actually someone’s gender is something completely different from their religion and the two shouldn’t be compared in this aspect.
    Gender is fluid and it always has been, there’s not only historical proof to back this up but also psychological and biological proof if that. While when talking abt religion there’s no proof of anything, when looking at the most mainstream religions, there’s, technically speaking, not a rational reason for them to believe it. Wht makes religion a debatable topic, that should be more debated than it is, and the gender topic something that when debated should result in the same result for everyone.
    Example, if someone says their gender is actually X, psychology mixes with logic, so if u wanted to debate against it, it would just be dumb, with how much knowledge we have on gender you would be proven wrong easily.
    But if someone says their religion is X, we can argue that that certain religion is bad or incorrect, bc based on the knowledge we have on the world, most religions don’t survive against logic.
    Your gender is backed up by logic, religion doesn’t.
    And btw I’m talking abt the psychology reason why people sometimes go to religion to help themselves, bc having a reason isn’t the same as thinking rational abt something.

    • Becca
      Becca says:

      Gender isn’t fluid dear, if it wasn’t we would each have different unmatching body parts thus there are only two private parts which belong to only two genders.


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