Religious tolerance absent on social media

Social platforms lack acceptance


Anna Williams

As many people do, I enjoy watching awards shows and going to concerts. It is humbling to see artists being recognized for their contributions to the music industry and watch all of the greats perform in one night and on one stage. One performance that stood out to me, and is still controversial to this day, is Sam Smith’s “Unholy” at the 65th Grammy Awards and its glorification of satanic themes. Although the Grammys are a secular award show, many Christians had concerns over what the music industry is becoming and felt as if the performance was offensive to their beliefs and should be addressed. The complaints were taken to social media and met with criticism and mockery. Their perspectives were called hypocritical and were disregarded. This entire situation compelled me to think about how religious beliefs are treated on social platforms and all that is wrong with the ways in which people respond to them.

A person’s religion is a part of their identity, and therefore, should be respected. You do not have to agree with a person’s perspective or beliefs, but it is decent of human beings to acknowledge the reality that people think differently than you. This becomes challenging when the practices of and expectations within certain religions seem as if they are oppressing, attacking or undermining others. However, it is unjust to generalize people. It is unfair to say that because you practice a certain religion, you act a certain way and align to all of the beliefs within that faith. Being human is much more complex than that.

It seems as though every time I go on my phone and come across a video of a person sharing or preaching their religion, it is met with intolerance. It saddens me to see that people have become so conditioned to hate or disrespect anything they disagree with. What saddens me even more is that we have a society that enables this hatred, seemingly pinning people who are unalike against each other. On a post of a Muslim girl explaining her customs, countless comments were making fun of her hijab and the practices of Islam. In a video I watched, a man’s Bible was taken from his hands and ripped to pieces — all while comments cheered it on. There are countless other videos and posts on the internet with similar themes. I constantly see people directing this content to a person and an experience they know little about and always wonder, “Why not just scroll?”

I think the problem lies within people being confused on creators’ intentions and being too quick to respond before attempting to understand another’s perspective. Though there are exceptions, most often, a person who creates religious content is not doing so with malice intentions — they seek to share their traditions and beliefs. They want to tell people about their experiences. In doing so, however, they are consistently met with cruel misjudgements, comparisons, and generalizations. Why is that okay? We all have freedom of religion and of expression and the right to exercise those liberties.

Making insensitive and thoughtless comments is something we, as a generation, have become accustomed and desensitized to. Often, it is easy to hide behind a screen and share opinions thoughtlessly and without consequence. I think that is where the fault in the media is. When it becomes easy to be hateful towards a person and their religion, we, as a society, have failed to be conscious of our humanity. 

There is a way you can share your own experience without invalidating others. We all need to lead with respect and think before we criticize. Imagine if we all were more thoughtful in the way we speak to and about each other, especially about religion. Imagine the good that would come from that.