We’re all believers in something and we each have at least a few beliefs that are deeply personal. As the old saying goes, “everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” And it’s better to believe in something than not believe in anything at all. A highlight of pericles’ rule was?

But, there are some beliefs out there that can be hurtful, even dangerous for others and for ourselves. When we talk about those kinds of beliefs, just as when someone talks about things like racism or sexism or homophobia (or any other issue), it’s important to get specific about what you’re really talking about and why it matters.

1. The upcoming election

If you belong to a faith that’s Christian, you no doubt believe that there’s only one set of leaders who can govern once God has chosen them. It’s not always clear whether a crisis or threat to the country is the same as a crisis or threat to religion itself (and if it is, sometimes it may be hard to tell which is which) but no matter what you believe about Jesus, every believer believes that we’ll have better leaders if we vote for them because they’re Christians and they’re Christians because they vote for their own kind. Some critics will say this ignores the history of politics and political parties in America and may lead us down the road of government-sponsored religion.

2. Gay marriage

This one is controversial because some sincerely religious people oppose homosexuality and gay marriage, while others only see one or the other as a choice they disagree with and still others hold both viewpoints. And some people may have to make difficult decisions because of their beliefs about homosexuality. Just as believing in God can be a personal journey and not a social identity, believing that you have to fit into the mold of an exclusive religion can also be an individual belief or commitment rather than a political platform you endorse or a social group you join.

3. Abortion

Pro-life or pro-choice – some people just don’t see life in terms of human rights. They don’t believe that life begins at conception. They believe that the only reason anyone should take a life is if it’s in self defense or to save the life of another. But some of those who oppose abortion also don’t see their own lives as worth defending and may kill or abandon themselves or their families without a second thought (or without any thought at all). This belief can lead to acts ranging from suicide to murder.

4. Same-sex marriage

People who are religious and people who aren’t tend to hold different beliefs about what makes a marriage, both legal and moral in nature. In fact, there’s disagreement even within religious groups about what this means for the institution of marriage. Some believe that marriage is a religious sacrament that should be reserved for one man and one woman only. Others believe that marriage is a legal contract between two people who love each other. Still others believe that marriage is simply a private matter between two people who do business together and it doesn’t have to be government-sanctioned at all.

5. Religious observance

Believers of all faiths often have very specific ways in which they observe the religion’s traditions, practices, rules and rituals including things like prayer, fasting, or charitable giving. Some believe their religion demands specific types of observance while others don’t see these as requirements but rather choices they make on their own. Some believers are so bound up in the rules of their particular religion that just because they’re not being observed doesn’t mean they’re not being followed.

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6. Denial of evolution or creationism

Believers in evolution or creationism (or some combination of the two) may be basing their belief on their religious beliefs and/or on scientific facts. Either way, these beliefs may lead to unfair judgments about people who don’t believe what the believer believes about science. There’s such a thing as scientific illiteracy. But there are many people who don’t understand science that are smart enough to deal with some of the most complicated problems in the world, so not everyone saying that they have no idea how life began or where it came from is calling on their God for help.

7. Asylum

If you’re an evangelical Christian, you may believe that there are only two paths for salvation: salvation through Jesus Christ or eternal damnation. Those who believe differently may be persecuted and killed because of their belief, or fear persecution and death because of their beliefs. In some religious traditions, believers are also allowed privileges or exemptions from laws that apply to everyone else. For example, in many religions, people in sexual relationships outside of marriage are denied certain legal rights and protections.

8. Laws that protect against discrimination

It may seem like the solution of salvation is something supernatural you can only believe in; however, just like we have laws against murder and slavery and theft because they’re wrong in our society, we also have laws that say it’s illegal to discriminate against people because they’re different – they’ve been named different things or can’t hear or see as well as others. Some people have religious beliefs that cause them to discriminate against others.

9. Denial of access to health care

In some religions, some people determine how the religion will be practiced, teaching others the rules and traditions of their particular organization. In other religions, the followers are given a choice about what they will believe in or practice. And then there are those who follow a religion but tell themselves that they’re not religious because they don’t believe in God or any particular scripture or set of rules. And there are those who refuse to belong to any organized religion, even if they do have religious beliefs and practices that are important to them.

10. Death Penalty

There are those who follow their religious beliefs to the point of fanaticism, taking the laws of their religion to an extreme. And then there are those who follow their religion, but give a pass to others, like murderers and thieves and people who have committed heinous crimes. And then there are those who practice their religion, but have different rules from everyone else. Some religious believers see it as a sinful act to kill another human being and so they will take any means necessary for them to not be murderers.


The world is a big place. The beliefs of the people in it are varied, complex and sometimes confusing. There are some of the same kinds of beliefs shared by all religions, but there are also some that are unique to each one and that may even exist in some religions that most people take for granted as common institutions. The difference between religion and religion is important because a person’s religious beliefs or lack thereof doesn’t define who they are as a person unless they let it do so.

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