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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Why do religious people not study more religions outside their own?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38956points) August 7th, 2009

Let me first preface this discussion by saying that this is not one about whether or not god(s) exist(s)...nor is it a discussion about whether or not religion is necessary/unnecessary, logical/illogical, etc.

This is a question to believers mostly but not only to believers. What are the reasons why many believers stay to the religion they learned from their parents and not, so to speak, ‘shop around’ before making their choice…and if you did look through your options when you arrived at your chosen faith, why do you not continue to look around as new religions arise…and if you rejected religion, why do you not look into it again in case things may have changed for you of in the religious community that you grew up in (aka maybe they’re now better about including women or LGBT people or doing more charity or whatever)...

Is it because religion is too huge of a subject to continuously study? what of the academics that do it with or without regard to their personal beliefs – what makes it easy for them to just be detached in such a fashion…I suppose an additional question is whether or not you can truly declare yourself of a certain faith or is it a life-long search/journey…and why you, specifically, have not looked outside your religion to read texts/examine structures/rituals of other religions…how can you be sure that your chosen faith is right for you and there isn’t a more suitable belief system someplace out there

p.s. if someone’s answer is ‘because I know mine is THE true religion’, let’s not start the hate speech, we have done enough arguing about this…just move along…

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80 Answers

PerryDolia's avatar

Simple. Their’s is the right one and all the others are flawed and deceiving.

Why waste your time studying the wrong religions when you can spend your life studying the right one.

barumonkey's avatar

I think one main reason is the one that you’re disallowing in your last paragraph: People are sometimes (unfortunately) taught what is Right, and to Never Question It because if you do, Bad Things might happen to you.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Why do you say that religious people do not study other religions? I know several that do. In the shopping around sense, and in the self-knowledge sense.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@PerryDolia Okay, then I have a follow-up for you: do you believe many religious people spend their life studying various interpretations of their own religion, even?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@barumonkey I am not disallowing it, I am disallowing dismissmal of it as a reason

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@BBSDTfamily I know some do – I wrote to those as well in my question where I asked
“and if you did look through your options when you arrived at your chosen faith, why do you not continue to look around as new religions arise”

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir But again, why do you assume people don’t continue to look around? I was raised a Southern Baptist but when I became older I looked into other Christian religions to decide if this was the particular denomination I wanted to stay in, even looked at Catholicism. I have sense studied non-Christian religions just for my own interest, not b/c I thought of converting. I am confident in my Christian religion, a little less confident in my exact denomination, but want to become educated in all religions.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’m not religious exactly but I do believe in God. The God I believe in is more than likely based on the Christian God but I have looked at other religions and their beliefs etc and I have come to realise that the God I believe in isn’t from one specific religion.

There are so many different lessons to be learnt from each religion (and there are some things from each one that I don’t agree with) that I try not to just follow one religion to the book.

I believe in a higher power and I believe there is good to be taken from a lot of religions. I find people that claim there religion to be the only worthwhile one to be extremely closed minded.

Facade's avatar

In my case, I would only “study” in the sense of an educational course, not in an effort to convert to anything but Christianity. I chose to take a course in in world religions during college, and I’m excited to learn about them.

Zendo's avatar

@BBSDTfamily “why do you assume people don’t continue to look around?” GA.

Many people do. The study of world religions, although somewhat boring, was a course offered in my high school. I am sure there are millions of other folks who studied world religions.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

kind of generalizing would you think?

edit because I’m in a bad mood and I’m trying to curb it: those that don’t look through other religions are stupid, those that do, good job.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@BBSDTfamily well again, I didn’t say ‘all’, just many – of course some, like you, do continue, I couldn’t account for every little off shoot in my details – but the kind of answer your provided was exactly the kind of answer I was looking for, thank you and @Zendo millions have taken that course and I’m pretty sure most have slept through it…my question really has more to do with less comparative study of religions but more of a personal search for your ‘correct’ one

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Because they are all E – V – I – L… like me!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 kind of, yes, just for the sake of starting a discussion…far be it from me to assume one single thing about all religious people – it was just something I noticed, that’s all…and now I’m waiting to hear about the plethora, i’m sure, of actual experiences..and to learn from it

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Facade you said you wouldn’t study to convert – I didn’t mean necessarily convert but to seek one that suits you better (maybe that’s the same thing?) ..what makes you sure in the religion that you’re in?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zendo Also, I wanted to point out that many World Religions classes are not all-encompassing and are sort of archaic in general

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Oh but it’s not my fault – I swear it! I’m a victim in all of this… like all the others…

We are victims of…

E – V – I – L – Y – O – U – S – H – U – N

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I understand I should have put ‘why do many religious people….’ instead of ‘religious people’ – it was not my intent to generalize

Zendo's avatar

For the others who didn’t sleep through it, don’t you think they may have actually been interested in maybe adopting one of the exotic ones, and eshewing the one their parents forced them into?

I know I got into Buddhism and Hinduism from my studies. Although I must say that I evolved from those to my own personal “religion” which states basically that no one needs a religion, church or priest to intercede on their behalf with the creator. We all can access him/her on our own, just by saying hi and discussing whatever we want to discuss.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

They likely don’t want to since they are getting what they feel they need from their current religion.

Bri_L's avatar

@Zendo – cool attitude. That is sort of how I cope with my state of practice as it is.

I for one love learning about other religions.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zendo I’m sorry when you say ‘exotic’ do you mean like in those ‘ethnic’ places like Asia or Africa? please be more specific

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Bri_L but do you ever go further and wonder if you should switch? basically is the religion someone learned when they were a child or one more common in their culture more likely to be the religion of the region and really have nothing to do with how ‘true’ it is?

Zendo's avatar

Exotic as in quite different from mainstream US Christian religions.

Hindu…Buddhist… Jain…

You went off point, though. The real thrust of my comment is, “We all can access him/her on our own, just by saying hi and discussing whatever we want to discuss.”

Harp's avatar

Many forms of religion carry this explicit message: God knows what your thinking, and He doesn’t want you shopping around.

Imagine that you’re married to someone (and the marriage metaphor is used in the Bible to describe Jesus’ relationship to his Church); maybe you occasionally check out an attractive passerby, kind of on the sly, but you’re not going to do a full-blown oggle if you think your spouse is watching, especially if you know your spouse is jealous.

Well, to Christians, God is always watching. And the Bible comes right out and says, “the Lord your God is a jealous God”.

Some proselytizing religions do school their followers in the beliefs of other religions, but it’s primarily to prepare them to refute their doctrines. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons get this kind of training.

Facade's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m satisfied with what I have. I can probably relate it to relationships. Once I find what I like, I don’t feel the need to search for anything else. I’m like that with pretty much everything.

Bri_L's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – I believe that in most cases, yes, what you wrote is true. My problem is I was raised catholic christian.

There is an awful lot of good intention as to treating people as you would have them treat you. Love one another. Forgiveness. Helping. I just don’t believe in all the bible thumping if it’s in the book it’s true, everything the same church that has been killing and running things in its own little world for centuries is the word of god kind of stuff.

One of the things I have noticed in most of the religions I read about or listened about, albeit somewhat superficially, is that a lot of them, the true religions, preach very similar context. Be good to one another. Love each other. Help.

Zendo's avatar

@Bri_L I was thrust into that catholic thing too. I was even an altar boy. Love that incense. And they do buy the best wines. But they are so repetitive, year in and year out the same drivel without change (other than switching to English from Latin and handing you the host).

Catholicism almost completely drove a wedge between me and the creator.

Then I started to think for myself and came up with the church of Zen—do. Now the creator and I are having a lot of fun in life. This change helped me break out of the “box” and go on to live my own life on my own terms.

And for Simone, I have come to see the creator, not as he, but also as she. Genderless in a manner of speaking (or comprised of both (all) genders. This is not a poke at you, it is how I really see her.

Bri_L's avatar

@Zendo – they have such a controlling state of mind.

Zendo's avatar

True dat.

fireside's avatar

This may be hard for me to answer since many of the people I know now in my Baha’i community are first or second generation Baha’is, though I do know some 4th or 5th generation Baha’is and people whose families have been martyred for being in the faith.

In my parent’s Catholic church they include information on other religions in the bulletin and sometimes during the homilies. I also know many people who changed to a different sect of Christianity because it suited them better.

I would say that one of the biggest reasons is community. If everyone in your family is of a certain faith, then it takes a certain type of person to decide that they will walk their own path and choose a new religion because that means risking the acceptance of your family.

My aunt and uncle (well, one set of them anyways) won’t be attending my wedding next week because it won’t be a Christian wedding. But that is their choice to make.

Many people would rather sacrifice personal fulfillment in a religious sense for the unity they feel with their family. Some would rather sacrifice unity in their family for the own sense of religious fulfillment. Everyone is different when it comes to this so I don’t think there would be any kind of uniform reason to be found.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

well i think that there are certainly numerous exceptions to this, but in a general sense, maybe it’s because they’re happy with what they’re doing. i suppose that if you’re that content in your own religion, shopping around doesn’t seem like a necessary thing to do.
plus, with religion, you’re basically taught that this is the right way, and if you don’t agree, you’re not following god’s plans, etc. after being slammed with that one, wouldn’t it be a bit of hell on the conscience to be like “k god, sorry, i might be able to find a better deal elsewhere…” (;
but i don’t really know. i’m not religious. when i was – though i was only in like middle school, or maybe even elementary school – i guess i questioned stuff. and that’s how i ended up here. erm. i mean, ended up not being religious. not on fluther. though i guess that’s true too!

YARNLADY's avatar

In my opinion, most people simply don’t care about that sort of thing. If it was good enough for Ma and Pa it’s good enough for them.

ShanEnri's avatar

It’s more comforting to stick with what you already know!

Supacase's avatar

They do believe their way is THE right way.

They are comfortable with and like their current religion.

Looking around could require them to question the things they have been taught – taught and explicitly told not to question.

From my personal experience, there is a lot of guilt involved in looking around. There is even more guilt plus dealing with the disapproval from others when you look around and think about what you found and change your mind.

Jeruba's avatar

GQ, @Simone_De_Beauvoir. I saw the opposite example: my father, a deeply committed man of faith and a professor of philosophy and theology, who couldn’t get enough of reading about other religions and beliefs throughout the world. He regarded them all with a fair degree of respect and wasn’t threatened by them in any way because he was very secure in his own convictions. I didn’t run into willful ignorance and fear of knowledge until I got away from home, although I’m afraid I can’t say the same thing about bigotry.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

What makes you think they don’t? I know many religious and former religious people who not only studied religions but took degrees in theology.

Disc2021's avatar

Bias and blind faith. Also, fear from venturing out of what’s familiar and in the norm.

Adagio's avatar

In my very late teens I adopted a Christian faith which I held on to it for almost 20 years. When I was confronted with a moral dilemma that would not fade away, as much as I wanted it to at the time, I found that the faith I professed simply did not provide an answer that satisfied me. The question was too big and the answer too small. I needed to make a conscious decision to either hold on to my faith in spite of my doubts or let go. I suddenly realised I had not actually questioned a lot Christian doctrine and had only adopted what I perceived as acceptable in the context of Christianity. So there I was, at the age of 38 with a new-found and incredibly uncomfortable awareness that I had neither thought critically nor independently about certain things. Although I had not done so deliberately, I had glossed over things and ignored them. It was an uncomfortable and painful time and the result was that I walked away from my faith.

Questioning one’s faith and/or exploring other faiths is often a mighty uncomfortable exercise. I think there are those that will never think about doing so. There are those who think about it but are not yet ready to do so. And of course there are those who think about it and are ready. Finally, there are those who, like myself, find themselves in a position where to ignore the challenge to think more deeply, no matter how unbidden and unwelcome, is to ignore one’s own self. In my opinion that is a very dangerous place to be.

tinyfaery's avatar

My parents are Chistians, but I knew people of all religions when I was growing up. I knew all types of Christians, Jews and Muslims. Even Buddhists and Hindu. I went to Catholic masses and barmitzvahs. I went to my Japanese friend’s house, saw her shrine, and asked her questions. I can’t imagine not knowing about others’ religions. Of course, I don’t believe any of it. But, I’ve always loved mythology.

augustlan's avatar

I think that for many people, it’s the same reason they don’t question anything in their lives. They just aren’t that deep. They are more focused on the day-to-day of their lives than on the big questions in life. More concerned with the ‘what’ than the ‘why’. I envy those people sometimes.

tramnineteen's avatar

The religious people who don’t study other religions either see it as futile because theirs is correct or are the same people who don’t really study anything at all.

People like us here on Fluther are more curious and want to know about things more than the average Joe. Only a segment of society has a penchant for knowledge that doesn’t involve or affect them personally.

However, I’m strongly Christian but also a curious / academic type and have studied many other religions.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

lol just busting your chops Simone, I’m cranky today. semantics are semantics, we all know what you meant. political correctness is a bitch sometimes ;)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

takes one o know one @ABoyNamedBoobs03
i’m okwith it

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

lol oh I’m a huge Dbag, you should have gotten that before now :P.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

on an entirely unrelated note, is that your ass in your avatar? lol just noticed.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

The denomination isn’t as important as the basic message, imho. The basic message of many religions just doesn’t match my beliefs.. so why would I study further into them? That’s like not believing in santa clause but continuing to study his history. It doesn’t make sense.

As far as “Christian” denominations, there are far too many to delve into.. and so as long as that basic message is intact I choose to follow that which I’m familiar with.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 indeed it is but it doesn’t go for dbags

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I think making up one’s own religion from scratch is better than following a pre-designed religion. That way, the rules are yours to make up as you go and as you learn. There is no strict dogma to limit your choices.

Some religions exclude certain people based on differences of culture or behavior. Every religion I ever studied (and I studied all of them) had at least one type of person they excluded or their back story was just too ludicrous to take seriously Scientology, anyone? so I invented my own, and it isn’t about popularity, or sheer numbers, or even living a certain way, it is about choices.

DrBill's avatar

I consider myself religious, and I have studied 27 religions from all over the world.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra really? You studied all of them? o . O What is this new religion based on besides your own feelings?

tramnineteen's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra What kind of people does Christianity exclude? (I would argue none)

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@tramnineteen homosexuals, perhaps? unless they just don’t consider them people…

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater I have studied all the popular ones, if you want an exact number, tough. I forgot to keep track. And what’s wrong with a religion based on feelings? Beats a religion based on the primitive vengeance policies of Bronze Age goat herders.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@tramnineteen well, homosexuals for one. Also the bible states that any man who is injured in the private area will NOT be allowed to see the gates of heaven. Read the Bible for more wondrous exclusions of the folks not allowed to cross over to meet the Saviour.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

sheesh, I invented my own religion, and from the confrontational tone here, you’d think I was microwaving live bunny rabbits and selling the meat to an orphanage! fucking get over yourselves already.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra you should switch to a more accepted and legitimate religion like FSMonsterism.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 nope, that is a religion invented by a college student. Doesn’t have any sort of personal connection to me, and besides, I absolutely despise all things pirate related.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

lol I love pirates

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I have studied the history of true pirates, including those that terrorized the steam boats and settlers on the Mississippi River a century or so ago, and they were thugs, monsters, rapists and killers. hardly worthy of anything remotely akin to respect.

It is Hollyweird that has romanticized pirates; history shows them as what they really were, which was fucking barbarians.

Might as well leave your dog in the care of Michael Vick.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

lol down killer. it’s for humors sake more so than anything.

mea05key's avatar


I find it interesting that someone shares the same little thought as me but I question this myself and found that religion is not based on individual thinking to a certain extent. It seems a little harder to try to uphold what you think about life as an individual. Its like becoming a another Jesus Christ and try to convince that your thinking is right. Whereas , under the conventional thinking of a popular religion, you get the benefit of sharing with others that shares the same belief.

mea05key's avatar


Yeah. I could feel that agony when I stop believing something I had believed for so long. I think that’s why I am still wondering around to find a suitable religion. It will take quite a while before i settle down.

MrBr00ks's avatar

I have always studied other religions. Heck, I’m going to a catholic/Jesuit university right now (Gonzaga) and I’m not catholic. I think in order to be considered a “pillar of faith” in one’s own religion, it takes a lot of study, and that leaves little room to be open open to other religions.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@mea05key thanks for comparing me to Jesus, you are mistaken, but hey, I’ll take it as a compliment. If only I had the following of that man, then I’d be Mr. Popularity.=)

I have never said that Evelynism is the correct religion, or the only religion, or even the right religion. Don’t put words in my mouth. There are approximately 2,500 known gods in human history, and many of them are forgotten to the point of being fragments of religions, or myths. To assume anyone knows which god is the real god is pretty damn arrogant. Evelyn is the one I choose to follow. I have never expressed that other people must do the same.

What people choose as their faith is none of my business, just like it is none of my business who people choose to love or to sleep with. I have my own life to worry about.

Evelynism works for me because it is about fun, and freedom of choice. If you don’t like Evelynism, or you think that its stupid, or you thinks I am a retarded asshole for expressing it, well, that’s your prerogative. What you think of my beliefs hurts me none at all.

Life is about choices, your results may vary isn’t just some empty mindless slogan that I post every third answer (or so) on here, it is the way that I actually live my life.

tramnineteen's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 and @evelyns_pet_zebra Homosexuals are not excluded. They can even enter heaven with their homosexuality intact if they have faith. They would simply be sinners. Christian perspective views homosexuality as something one chooses, not is born with or a permanent part of you. Even Catholicism states that if you have homosexual feelings all you need to do is not ACT on them, they suggest getting a female wife.

Also, all the rules changed when Jesus came, nothing except faith is necessary to enter heaven.

Everyone who enters heaven is a sinner except for Jesus himself!

Bri_L's avatar

@tramnineteen – wouldn’t the act of taking a female wife because you have homosexual feelings be a lie?

And how do they justify that action as it relates to treating the female when it comes to her being with a man who prefers men?

tramnineteen's avatar

@Bri_L No, you are not saying you don’t prefer men, you simply are not acting on that impulse. If someone has urges for cocaine yet does not partake this is not a lie. It’s simply a choice.

As for the wife, I think some women would be bothered by this, but if he was a loving husband I don’t think it would matter long term.

Bri_L's avatar

@tramnineteen – so the key is to be open with your wife and your church that you prefer men so it isn’t a lie?

tinyfaery's avatar

Blah blah blah. Wrong thread. The homophobia thread is——>

tramnineteen's avatar

@Bri_L Yeah, if you are not deciving anyone there is no lie.

@tinyfaery is right. We are off topic.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

threads evolve. how you say Catholicism accepts homosexuality is beyond me.

tramnineteen's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 It rejects acting on it, not the temptation. Being tempted to do something isn’t a sin, mediating on the idea, planning, making steps towards the act, and actually doing something. Thats were the sin is.

eekads's avatar

Because they believe theirs are the only one that is true , therefore no use in reading the others , i believe. (:

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

When religious types claim that homosexuality is a choice, I turn off my attention. Because it is proof to me that you simply cannot discuss these things with a someone whose mind is closed.

“Hey. Bruce, I’ve got an idea, let’s choose to be fags so that all the big hunky oil workers at the bar can beat the stuffing out of us and tie us to their pick up trucks with log chains and drag us down gravel roads like they used to do to the blacks. I am going to choose to be gay so everyone will hate me, I can turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort, and I will be discriminated against by everyone, including employers, landlords, and the big scary man in the sky.”

Religion is a choice. Homosexuality is an innate trait that some people are born with.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

you’re right, no one would choose to live in a world where you are discriminated against
to me, sexuality is a combo of biology and sociology
it’s fluid, doesn’t fit into boxes
point is it doesn’t matter to me whether or not it’s a choice
it is wrong to discriminate against queer people

MrBr00ks's avatar

“When religious types claim that homosexuality is a choice, I turn off my attention. Because it is proof to me that you simply cannot discuss these things with a someone whose mind is closed.” Evelyn, to turn off one’s attention while someone is talking is having a closed mind. Just because one does not agree with it isn’t a reason to skip an opportunity to learn someone’s viewpoint and close one’s mind. I work in a place where there is not two viewpoints on anything that are alike, but I listen when they talk, and for that courtesy, they listen when I talk. Sometimes viewpoints change and sometimes they do not, but what matters the most is we can talk freely to each other. Unless you want to call the asst. manager an ass, which usually doesn’t go over too well. /shrugs

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