On Religion & Politics, or What Not to Discuss at a Dinner Party

“Nothing ruins a dinner party faster than religion or politics.”

It’s the unspoken agreement of a polite dinner host and guests.

Friends at a party by the shore

Why?

Because people can’t keep their manners in when talking about these two subjects.

They’re especially volatile in the current political climate. So let’s take a moment to have a non-political discussion about politics and religion, and how they’re interconnected.

Still with me or are you lining me up in your sights? See what I did there? I made a gun reference too.

Gasp. Don’t shoot. I’m unarmed.

Oh, crap. Now it’s black lives matter. Or blue lives. Or all lives. Jeez. My obvious missteps are going to lose me friends now. Why is that? Lately there is some serious vitriol when it comes to stating opinions.

How will we ever live in a world where hate and bigotry and religious discrimination are things of the past if we cannot seek to see from each other’s points of view? The first step to that is learning about them.

If I believe in global warming, some groups will bury me with the righteousness of their data. If I don’t believe in global warming, good heavens the barrage of hate-filled science-y stuff.

I don’t like labels. Call it global warming. Call it climate change. Call it a hoax. I don’t really care. It’s not going to make me hate you. It will make me curious as to why you think that way. It will provoke a conversation and some questions from me that are borderline invasive, but never rude.

I asked a black friend what her take was on Black Lives Matter and if she experiences the rabid racism that I see in the media. Why? Because I wanted a firsthand account from someone I knew. Was I offended by her shrug and “not really” answer? No. It led to an honest conversation on racism and what I should be teaching my children about humanity.

I asked my gay friends what they’ve experienced with Love Matters and the Supreme Court ruling. He married his long-time partner in a ceremony recognized by the government, so he was pretty stoked. They’ve been together two decades, but the formality was pretty significant. I asked another friend why he felt it was wrong that two gay men have the same rights as we do. It was because it’s a sin to him. He doesn’t hate them and I don’t hate him for his opinion. He has a right to it. Just as my gay friends have a right to their rights.

I have a friend who loves Trump and another who hates him passionately. I have a friend who went to Standing Rock and another who eye-rolled the demonstrators.

During the elections, I made sure people making political postings on Facebook on both sides of the fence spoke politely to each other. Sometimes I felt like a hall monitor, but it was enlightening.

But what does this all have to do with Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination?

Different people are going to have vastly differing views and we have to navigate a melting pot of those many view points. But to keep that pot from melting in on itself, we each, every one of us, have to take responsibility for our communication. We need to elevate the conversation from disgust, eye-rolling, hate and degradation.

I’m not stupid if I don’t believe in global warming. I’m not stupid if I do believe in it. I am educated differently and from a different viewpoint than you are.

How will we ever live in a world where hate and bigotry and religious discrimination are things of the past if we cannot seek to see from each other’s points of view? The first step to that is learning about them. Through granting respect and maintaining our manners, we can have polite discussions over heated topics and hear the other side. Only then will we be able to construct a peaceful future for us all.

Dinner parties used to be about religion and politics. How have we strayed so far from those engaging topics?

Why are they taboo today?

Because hate has become an acceptable form of expression.

And it’s just not acceptable.

Under any circumstances.

Painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1881

Author

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