About Religious Literacy

Glasses on books (2)

The person who knows only one religion knows none” — Max Müller


For us here at My Brother from Another Mother, religious literacy is the ability to see the connection between religion and everyday life from various points of view.

Why is that important?

As our world becomes more diverse, more multi-cultural and more multi-faith, education, civic affairs, politics, the arts, medicine, science, and all areas of our lives can no longer be managed independently of religious considerations. In 2008, Professor Stephen Prothero, Chair of the Religion Department at Boston University, wrote in Religious Literacy, What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t: “Los Angeles, the most religiously heterogeneous city in the country, boasts more than 300 Buddhist temples and is likely home to more Buddhist schools than Tokyo. According to a recent study, one in every eight Americans, including many Christians and Jews, say that Buddhism has influenced their religious life. There are only about a million Hindus in the United States, but many of the largest companies in the Silicon Valley are run by them. And yoga, which began in ancient India as a technique for spiritual liberation from the cycle of life, death and rebirth, is now a Main Street phenomenon, practiced in community centers and churches alike. Taoism is present too—in thousands of martial arts academies scattered in cities and small towns across the United States. Islam is even more visible. Now represented in over 1,200 mosques nationwide, it will soon outrun Judaism as America’s second largest religion (that is, if it hasn’t already.)”

Religious literacy in and of itself does not involve dialogue. The pursuit of religious literacy can be solitary or communal. People can study by themselves or in a group. It is a mainly cerebral activity, which has as its goal the acquiring of information.

Our interest is in seeing the relationship between religions. Where do we have commonality? Where do we have differences?

Did you know that most religions have a shared value of what’s commonly referred to as The Golden Rule?

Buddhism    Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

Christianity    Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

Confucianism    Do not do to others what you would not like yourself.

Hinduism    Do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you.

Islam        No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.

Jainism    One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.

Judaism    That which is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor.

Taoism        Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.