Misconceived – Editorial for Issue 13 12 July 2016
Islam is a violent religion. Or at least that is what you might think if your only source of information was the mainstream media. And society is full of stereotypes and prejudices about religion. We are told that a belief in the Divine is irrational, that religions are the cause of all world conflicts, that people of faith follow blindly and disregard human rights.
But whose job is it to address such misconceptions? Often, the responsibility is laid firmly at the feet of the religious adherents themselves. Even those who are ‘on side’ with Muslims might suggest that Muslims could do more to condemn violence and to explain the peaceful nature of their religious teachings.
It can be argued though, that the onus is on all of us to ensure we are getting our information from the right places – or at least to consider a wide range of opinions and views before coming to our own conclusions. For example, I couldn’t expect to be well-informed about, let’s say, modern advancements in genetics just by reading a newspaper. As a minimum, I would need to read some reliable journal articles or websites on the subject to know what I was talking about. And even then, I would recognise that there are experts out there who know much more than me who engage with the field on a daily basis. With religion then, we should question our sources of information, and seek views from those who know the most about that particular religion – often its believers and religious leaders.
On Religion magazine strives to be one of these reliable sources of information to help people educate themselves about what faith means in the modern age. The articles included in the following pages – written by academics, lay people of faith, religious leaders, and other experts in the field – aim to challenge misconceptions of religion and non-religion that prevail in society, and improve religious literacy amongst the general population. Undeniably, religion, spirituality, and the search for meaning are important motivating factors in most, if not all, people’s lives. We believe that only by understanding these things can we understand and engage constructively with our friends, neighbours and communities, regardless of their outlook on life.