Religious intolerance is a reality in the world today. Whether you're looking at American religious politics, conflict in the Middle East, African warfare, cultural strife in Europe, or debate over freedom of religious expression in the Far East, religion and faith are hot button topics across the globe. It's been a point of contention for centuries, and will likely continue as such for years to come. Or will it?
New data from a survey on interfaith prayer website Prayables.com provides inspiring insight into a new level of acceptance of cross-faith praise. The survey asked over 100 women from a variety of faiths about their perspectives on prayer and acceptance of individuals practicing religions different from their own. The survey sample ranged in age, but the majority of the respondents were over the age of 35, making the data more significant than had the sample been primarily comprised of members of the younger population, which is largely viewed as being more liberal than their predecessors. 62 percent of respondents worked at least part-time, and 65 percent indicated that they were parents.
The data was surprising in several manners. Initially, 89 percent of respondents classified themselves as spiritual, compared to the only 57 percent that classified themselves as religious. Only 38.8 percent of respondents attend religious services weekly, but 69.8 percent indicated that they pray often. Most importantly, nearly 90 percent of respondents stated that they are comfortable praying alongside people of different faiths.
What does this information convey? The data indicates that the sample surveyed is not particularly religious, but does hold a sense of spirituality. It also indicates that women are increasingly tolerant of other religions and their concurrent practice.
This is significant, because as the 2010 Pew Report on Millennials indicated, it is the younger generations that are typically most tolerant of other religions and least religiously affiliated, and yet, the Gen X and Baby Boomer participants of this survey expressed similar sentiments in a conclusive fashion. From this data, we can, tentatively, speculate that this atmosphere of tolerance is not a generational phenomenon so much as it may be a (positive) societal trend.
Prayables.com was aware of this trend far before the data rolled in. The site, dedicated to developing relatable, religiously unaffiliated prayers for women, advocates prayer as a method of introspection, reflection and meditation for individuals of all walks of life, and develops content that is applicable to women on a day-to-day basis. As "Chief of Pray" Susan Diamond explains on the site, "It gives women just the right words at just the right times."
Taking their mission further, Prayables recently released its first book, entitled Personal Peace: Prayers for Women of All Faiths. The collection of prayers covers topics like aging, parenting, love, struggle, doubt, and success in a tone that's humorous, inspiring and down to earth all at once. Available for purchase online, it's the perfect bedside companion or gift for the special women in your life.
Religious intolerance may be a reality we deal with today, but it doesn't have to be that way. If this data means anything, there is certainly hope for the future.