December is packed with messages and images surrounding the religious holidays that come this time of year. But, what if your major religious holiday isn’t celebrated this time of year? Do you see many messages about your religious celebration during that calendar month?
While December brings many Americans together for faith celebrations like Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, we as a society still have room to grow in our awareness of different faiths. In a Pew Research study investigating what Americans know about religions they found that, "U.S. adults generally can answer basic questions about the Bible and Christianity, but are less familiar with other world religions." Additionally, it was discovered that, “people who are more familiar with a religion tend to express more favorable views of members of that faith.”
This finding sparks a reason to increase awareness and understanding for the diverse set of religions represented in our country. It’s a small message of hope that learning about other faiths can create more tolerance in our communities. So, this holiday season we want to offer some simple entry points that may help you spread examples of interfaith connectedness and dialogue.
People who are more familiar with a religion tend to express more favorable views of members of that faith. -Pew Research Center
How can YOU get involved? SIMPLE!
Step#1: Review the major holidays celebrated by religions around the world in 2020 and update your personal calendar to remind you of these dates.
Step #2: Reach out. If you know someone who practices one of the religious holidays in your calendar, take a moment to say, “Happy Holidays!” Ask them a question. Get to know a bit more about their traditions when they celebrate. If you don’t share a connection with someone celebrating, you could reach out virtually to everyone in your network with a simple post recognizing the holiday. Someone you know might thank you for this recognition - making you aware of something about them you didn’t know before.
Step #3: Reach in. Help your own community learn more about other religious holidays throughout the year. Share the Pew Research Center’s findings about what Americans know about religions with leaders in your faith community or school and tell them, “I’d love to chat about ways we can develop an interfaith dialogue in our community to build more awareness and connections to other religious groups.” It might lead to some new ideas: Maybe your faith leadership announces the holidays in their monthly calendar, newsletter or community gatherings. Maybe you invite members of another faith community who are celebrating an upcoming holiday into your faith space to share about their traditions and celebrations.
It’s common during the December holidays for people to say they want to keep the spirit of the season all year. Finding new ways to connect with and support others of a different faith than your own is one way to open the door to greater tolerance and understanding - a positive step towards the peace and love we talk about during the holiday season. Now you have a way to say, “Happy Holidays!” all year long.