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Marc Jost
 

Religion as a private matter is dangerous

And at a time when there are actually almost no taboos left in the media and intimate matters are reported on shamelessly, the commonly held understanding - that religion is a private matter - does seem rather out of kilter. Does personal religious faith have to be completely private, or would it be better if we talked about it much more?

FEATURES AUTHOR Marc Jost TRANSLATOR Nicky Seadon BERN 08 JANUARY 2015 13:10 h GMT+1
Bern Suisse Bern. / TIm Kelley (Flickr, CC)

What do income, faith and weight have in common? Correct, they are all regarded as taboo or the private matter of the Swiss. And we don’t ask about them. But at least the first two of these key words are always of incredible interest to the media whenever it smacks of a highly explosive situation, unrest or scandal.



I am rarely asked about my income, but horrifically high managers’ salaries are of interest and are – rightly – criticised. How heavy I am is of no interest to anyone but my doctor and my wife. I am scarcely ever addressed about my faith in a personal conversation; however, when the media report on me as a person, it is the religious side that is highly controversial, because it is not quite normal.



And at a time when there are actually almost no taboos left in the media and intimate matters are reported on shamelessly, the commonly held understanding - that religion is a private matter - does seem rather out of kilter. Does personal religious faith have to be completely private, or would it be better if we talked about it much more?



Talking about one’s personal religious faith makes sense, from my point of view, for the following reasons:



In a conversation about faith and religion, prejudices can be challenged and broken down. Mutual understanding can grow when we learn from our counterpart why they believe what they believe. And, in the end, such conversations can promote peace, if, rather than with hatred and rejection, the other viewpoint is met with understanding and respect.



At the same time, dialogue about faith is a contest between religions and worldviews. That is a good thing, as one’s own perception is challenged. And, where there is sincere and wholehearted effort, this leads closer to the truth, closer to reality.



Jesus says about himself: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ Sometimes it seems to us perhaps easier to make such bold assertions taboo and not to bother our heads about them. I am however convinced that dialogue about faith can bring us closer to the truth and promotes good communal living. So, don’t falsely hold back!



 



Marc Jost is a swiss politician and general secretary of the Swiss Evangelical Alliance.


 

 


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