By: Lang Csira | Writer
December 11, 2018
One of the most interesting aspects of belief systems today is that across different religions, there are many common themes. I interviewed San Clemente High School students of several religions to ask them a few basic questions about their beliefs, and the results of which were startling. From atheist to devout Jehovah’s Witness, students responded about their religion in terms of parental influence, presence of science, and what led them to their beliefs today.
The common message between each and every student involves a desire for kindness and acceptance between religions, or even lack there of. In a time full of such division and turmoil at the hands of religious differences, we must recognize the similarities of our beliefs and remain willing to understand each other.
- How do you think God influences your life?
“My non religious beliefs, more like morals influence every decision I make. I make sure each decision, word, and action I say is made with toleration, acceptance, and love.” – Kathleen Morrison (sophomore), no religious affiliation
“God influences the decisions I make and helps me help others. When my friend Troy died, I was at a memorial service and everyone was sharing stories about him. My heart was beating fast and I was crying and I prayed, ‘God, if you want me to share a story, help me to calm myself.’ My heart immediately stopped thundering in my chest and I felt an internal calm, so I shared my story.” – Trevor Benge (Junior), Christian
“Being part of a faith that emphasizes the oneness of god and the unity of mankind has made me accepting of others and eager to serve my community. ” Juliette Clark (senior), Baha’i
- How do your beliefs influence your life?
“I strive to live my life in accordance with (the Bible), and by extension, the principles it contains. I try to orient my moral compass in alignment with Bible principles, and not just by what is commonly accepted.” – Spencer Herbert (sophomore), Jehovah’s Witness
“I don’t really let (my beliefs) shape who I am as a person if I’m being honest. My religion is my religion, but who I am as a person is just myself. It’s just a part of me, but it doesn’t define me.” – Sydney Hanning (junior), Jewish
“I try to live by my beliefs and let my actions reflect them.” – Abigail Blair (Senior), Catholic
- Do you follow the same religion as your parents? Do you claim ownership of your beliefs or did you absorb the beliefs of your parents?
“I claim ownership of my own beliefs, however, my parents’ liberal views have led to them. I know my morals are accurate because I have experienced people treat others with superiority (due to) their religion. Catholics disown gays because it is ‘in the Bible’ even though the Bible also says to love others like brothers and sisters. (…) The Bible specifically says to love all, because we are all ‘children of God’.” – Morrison (no religious affiliation)
“I have made the personal choice to identify myself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses after carefully examining the Scriptures, the Bible’s message, and the standards it prescribes. Faith is a personal conviction; it is not hereditary.” – Herbert (Jehovah’s Witness)
“My parents and I do share the same beliefs. I mean I guess like any other thing, I was just taught a certain way since I was young. It’s not that I absorbed those beliefs, I was just taught them. I’m sure if I were any other religion, my parents would be okay with it.” – Hanning (Jewish)
- What led you to your beliefs? What assures you of their accuracy?
“Just thinking a bunch about the topics of religion and God has led me to my beliefs. Critical thinking and scientific process.” – Gillian Greene (sophomore), “deist, at most”
“I think for a long time I was very dependent on my parents’ beliefs, but now that I am older and can think for myself, I have my own beliefs in my religion. I don’t know if everything (in the Book of Mormon) is true, but I think that is okay because I do believe in god and that I can live with him again.” – Brady Allen (Junior), Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (Mormon)
“I’m assured of my beliefs when I abide by the teachings of the manifestations of God, the Baha’i Writings, and I get confirmation of my actions by seeing the beauty and richness of the world that can be attributed to God. The Baha’i Faith teaches the oneness of god and religion, the unity of mankind, the power of youth and education, and the importance of service.” – Clark, Baha’i
- How does science tie into your beliefs?
“With my Christian education, I was able to determine that what scientists say about evolution and the old earth can fit very well with Christianity. The Hebrew for word ‘day’ in Genesis actually can translate to any age or time.” – Luke Makshanoff (Junior), Christian
“Honestly, I’m only religious in the moral sense, so it doesn’t really overlap or conflict with my scientific beliefs.” – Blair (Catholic)
- Have there been any times when your beliefs have contradicted what you were taught in school?
“We use science in a lot of aspects of our lives. I may not agree with something we teach in school, but I believe that you should not tell someone what to believe or how to live, so I let everyone believe what they want.” – Allen (Mormon)
“The only time my beliefs have been contradicted in school is when the teacher straight up says that there is no room for religion in science. This is simply false and it saddens me to hear that people are not even willing to consider Christianity even though the gift that God offers us is eternal life, and on top of that, it comes free with the best friendship that anyone can ever have.” – Makshanoff (Christian)