Religions are often plagued by myths and stereotypes that make understanding between different religions or between religious and non-religious people harder to come by.
Diversity Educators hosted an event Wednesday, as a part of Civility Week, in an effort to dispel common myths about world religions and non-religions.
Mythbusters: Religious Edition — the name deriving from the television show Mythbusters by Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage — had a panel of five professors, each trained in an area of religion or non-religion ranging from atheism to Hinduism.
The panel consisted of Joesph Baker, Jennifer Alder, Jeff Gold, Lindsey King and Paul Tudico.
Baker explained that religion was not disappearing, but the idea of organized religion was shrinking.
“People claiming ‘no religion’ [or being] ‘non-affliated believers’ has grown rapidly,” Baker said. “People [also] do this to not be marked as immoral.”
Baker said that this is most likely due to the polarization of politics.
Alder, who focused on Abrahamic religions, dispelled five major myths about Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
“Jews believe in the historical Jesus, [but he is] not the promised Messiah,” Alder said.
Myths on whether the United States began as a Christian nation were also dispelled.
“[The 1950s] saw an artificial elevation of religiosity,” Alder said.
Alder also spoke on Catholics being Christians due to confusion on the practices of worship. This myth arose from “dogma and theological claims.”
The rest of Alder’s myths focused on Islam.
Alder explained that most Muslim people do not live in the Middle East as a large majority actually live in Southeast Asia.
Much to the surprise of some of Alder’s students, the Bible and the Quran have multiple stories which share a common theme and characters, such as Noah and the Flood.
Gold focused on the Southeast Asian religions.
“[Indian Religion teaches] we have lost touch with who we really are,” said Gold.
This can be found again through the “guru” meaning teacher and the “chels” meaning student relationship.
King focused her discussion on Native American faiths and history.
“I’m going to be busting that all Native American religion is dead because it’s not,” King said. “Their belief systems have been attacked.”
King spoke on the history of Native American culture and the main aspects of their beliefs.
“Native Americans are not dead,” King said. “Respect, relationship and reciprocity are what they teach.”
Tudico focused on secularism, which is the belief that religion should not be a part of government, education or any other public structures in society.
“Atheism means doesn’t have a belief in God,” Tudico said. “Agnostic means beliefs that the truth of God’s existence is unknowable.”
Tudico explained that not having a religious belief does not mean that these people do not have morals.
“The biggest barrier to civility is respect,” Tudico said.