Is it OK to choose religious beliefs?

Young people who use social media are more likely to develop a ‘pick and choose’ approach to personalizing their faith — regardless of what their faith tradition teaches — than those who don’t use social media, a study release finds. from Baylor University posted on its website on May 16.

Users of social networking sites are between 50 and 80 percent more likely to be flexible about various religious beliefs and practices, according to findings by Baylor sociology researcher Paul K. McClure, which is based on an analysis of data from the national study on youth and religion.

He also found that increasing a person’s level of education is associated with an increased likelihood of choosing their religious beliefs.

Baylor University is a nationally-ranked Christian university and research institution in Texas.

We asked our panel of prominent religious leaders in the region the following question: Is it okay to choose religious beliefs? Or should we follow the concepts and beliefs of our respective religions/denominations in their entirety?

Here’s what they have to say:


Matthew T. Fisher, resident priest of the Reno Buddhist Center

Among the Buddha’s last words – “Be a lamp unto yourself…Let the Dharma (truth) be your lamp.” He saw that we actively live our lives. It’s OK to choose your spiritual points of view, in the sense that we each construct our own view of the world. It is our understanding and attention that illuminates our experience on an established spiritual path.

American Buddhists come from a variety of backgrounds. Americans are curious and do many studies and surveys before choosing a path. As we continue our understanding, certain practices and modes resonate with us and they “stick”. Ultimately, the Buddha wants us to be joyful. We achieve this by letting go of the “I-me-my” experience and stepping into the unity of reality. His Great Compassion and His Great Wisdom surround us. The practices and methods we use to do this are our refuge and we necessarily shine the lamp of understanding for ourselves.


Sharla S. Hales, director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that we are led by a prophet who receives divine revelation. Just as God spoke to inspired prophets like Moses, Isaiah, and Peter, God speaks to the living prophet today. We have God’s direction through Scripture and contemporary revelation.

Because we believe that the doctrine and commandments of the scriptures and the prophets come from God, it would be hypocritical and contradictory to choose to believe and follow some, but not others. It would be putting our trust in God only when we want to or when it is easy or convenient, but putting our own desires ahead of God’s direction when it is not.

James E. Faust explained, “If someone believes that revelation comes from a divine source, how can one choose? Acceptance of the gospel must be complete and absolute, with a full heart and soul.


Brian E. Melendez, scholar of Native American spirituality

The trend of choice regarding religion or faith (not necessarily the same thing) may be massively correlated to the high degree of modern societal change in this era and I don’t think that will stop anytime soon. We are definitely in a time of change, that’s for sure…

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with people finding what works for them. If religious centers have an open door policy, people can use it once or twice to their advantage. There are so many ways down the spiritual path, that the road you are currently on may just be an avenue to another way of being?

If you are where you think you should be religiously or spiritually, great. Not everyone will recognize their place or purpose and it will take many tries; others may never find what is missing in their life and that is OK too.


ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, Rabbi, Temple Beth Or and N. Tahoe Hebrew Congregation

Most of the time, Judaism is flexible on “beliefs”. However, religious life requires a commitment to religious life. Although the “choose and choose” method seems to lack thought, Judaism has long recommended beginning the spiritual path by choosing a meaningful mitzvah (commandment). For someone who is not currently religious or is converting to Judaism, the motivation to embark on the path of religious observance begins with a desire to be closer to Gd. Then a person can choose to practice a number of mitzvahs daily. Someone may choose to study Torah daily or light Shabbat candles every Friday at sundown. Each simple gesture is considered a step on the way. Pick a mitzvah, make it part of your life, and add more to it. Compliance is a ladder. Our goal is to maintain a constant connection with Gd, thanking Gd in prayer for every moment.


Stephen R. Karcher, Presiding Priest of St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church

Unlike the popular casino buffets that hungry people enjoy, the nature of spirituality is not like a buffet. “Pick-choose” may be the way to indulge in a restaurant, but in the spiritual life we ​​learn from those who are masters already possessing spiritual fruit. Like the dancer learning his steps or a musician learning his parts, spirituality requires coordination with a teacher as well as study and humility. The “choose-choose” mentality seems more about “me” and what “I” want; however, Christianity is not about “my” will, but about God’s. And it is only from those who did it first that we learn to worship, pray and live spiritually. It’s “discipleship,” and we do it that way because we want the right results. Like the scientist who follows the correct experimental procedure and the physician who employs the correct treatment for healing, Orthodox Christianity possesses the proven methods that lead mankind back to paradise.


Justin V. Deverse, Baha’i teacher

Investigating existing beliefs and seeking truth is an expression of a Bahá’í ideal, the independent investigation of truth. Bahá’u’lláh says that the fragrance of truth is sweet whatever the flower. Discerning the truth with one’s own faculties requires a high level of personal responsibility. Thus, we must be careful, because modern materialism teaches easy, instant, and personal gratification based on our individual interests. This thought is not compatible with the general purpose of religion, which is to create unity and advance human civilization. When a new religion emerges, its purpose is to set a higher standard that revolutionizes thoughts, ideas, and the practical nature of human life. Belief in this message has logical implications which the believer should consider. If the more difficult aspects of religion are abandoned – sacrificed to the comfort level of the individual – then those beliefs have no power to unify or change the world.


Steve Bond, Senior Pastor, Summit Christian Church, Sparks

The Bible says we see as if we were looking through dimly lit glass. None of us can see ourselves or God with perfect clarity. This should cause humility in all of us.

However, the stakes are high when it comes to choosing religious beliefs. The most basic question we need to answer is what happens after we die. Eternity is long! So it is wise to be sober about the path we choose.

With that in mind, choosing religious beliefs willy-nilly seems like a precarious roll of the dice. It is about eternity, it is far better to follow the most reliable guide.

This is why I chose to follow Jesus. After all, he is the only religious leader in history who claimed to be God in the flesh and then proved it by rising from the grave after dying on a cross.


Kenneth G. Lucey, professor of philosophy/religion at UNR

You don’t choose your religious beliefs. Indeed, no belief whatsoever is ever chosen. You can choose your dinner entree or your choice of ice cream flavor, but you can’t choose your beliefs. I sometimes try to establish this point by offering a hundred dollar bill to anyone who can sincerely hold an obviously false belief, such as that there is a large green-striped elephant in front of my class. Many students would be delighted to have the money, but cannot honestly say they have the required belief. Beliefs are acquired by being caused. Media, whether mainstream or social, can certainly be a cause, but such causation is not achieved by an act of will. Religious education is generally taught by parents or teachers, but the beliefs thus acquired are not chosen. We can choose to stop praying, but we cannot choose to stop believing.


Sherif A. Elfass, president of the Muslim Community of Northern Nevada

People follow religion for many reasons. However, if the reason for following a particular religion is because of a firm belief that it is the one intended by the Creator for mankind, then how can one pick and choose parts of it? That is why, as Muslims, we should not choose what suits us in Islam; we simply follow Allah and his Messenger. In Islam, those who choose among religion are considered hypocrites. The difference between an ordinary Muslim who sins and a hypocrite is that a sinful Muslim repents after committing a sin and tries his best to avoid it in the future, but a hypocrite adopts a sinful lifestyle and insists on it. to follow. In general, following an organized religion is a struggle and if someone decides to follow one, they are expected to do their utmost to embrace it fully.

Next week’s topic: Does religion make you happier?

Faith Forum is a weekly dialogue on religion produced by religious statesman Rajan Zed. Send your questions or comments to [email protected] or on Twitter at @rajanzed.