Here are some suggestions on preserving religious freedoms that have been condensed into a few categories that cottage leaders can explore further.
- Have a strong knowledge:
In private and personal ways, learn and live your religion and or belief system well. Have a wellspring of knowledge that is easily accessible to you – like an ongoing library that you can draw from at any given moment. Be thinking about ways you can express yourself if asked some difficult questions about your faith tradition. Diving into hard topics is a good thing! Practice articulating your thoughts somewhere safe like with a close friend, within your family or your cottage. Most importantly live what you know. People are more keenly aware by what you do more than what you say.
In your everyday encounters with others, share your joy about God and or your belief system. Don’t shy away from using your devotion to God in your everyday language as you talk with others. This is something so profoundly beautiful in many parts of the US and other countries. It’s common to hear a genuine expression of “Have a blessed day,” “God bless you,” or “Praise the Lord,”or “Would you mind if I pray for you?” or “I’m so grateful to God for this blessing.” Our religious verbiage is a powerful thing. We can lift humanity and touch hearts with our sincere words of recognition that we believe in God, and that God is aware of us individually and personally, and that we are loved by God.
Utilize technology to share your ideas and beliefs about God. There are many ways to do this, written work, artistic expression, academic work, and other religious perspectives via social media, and other technological platforms. There are many other ways to be creative in letting your light and beliefs shine.
- Recognize and support a positive religious voice in media.
Support organizations and news reports and articles that are both faith affirming AND culturally sensitive and thoughtful in their delivery. Is critical that as religious people we define our language. There is an increasingly radical movement that is working to define it for us, therefore it’s essential that we seek to demonstrate thoughtful discourse, peaceful dialogue, and bridge-building. The more we support sources that promote what we wish to see, the more this will become the standard representation of religious people. Know and share sources that have an honest and thoughtful representation as their core motive and mission.
- History and Geography:
Take time to read from historical books about the history cycle of religious freedom, e.g., Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and other parts of the world currently (e.g., Yazidi’s, Rogingya people etc.). Read about the many brave individuals that have worked and dedicated their lives to preserve religious freedoms and to protect others against religious discrimination and persecution. Teach this within the family and to your children. There are many age-appropriate books that are beautifully written that can inspire children to be more attuned to religious freedom issues.
- Support organizations:
Support and get involved with organizations that are in the front lines or directly working on religious freedoms issues (Alliance Defending Freedom, China Aid, etc.). Stay up to date on local and national legislation that will impact religious freedom. Learn what is happening in your area and inform others. Motivate others to get involved through positive invitation and not fear mongering. Fear-based persuasion will have a counterproductive effect.
- Take action in politics:
As you become more aware of the religious freedoms issues at stake, find your own creative ways to get involved and persuade others to do the same. Vote. Help others to vote. Organize ways in which you can share important and relevant information with community members. Become a positive religious freedom activist.
- Take action through service:
Learn about current religious persecution! It’s happening in many parts of the globe (from China to Myanmar to the Middle East to here!) You and your cottage can connect with organizations or friends in those locations to provide real and personalized relief and support.
- Network with other faiths:
Learn from another faith tradition. Visit a holy place of worship from another faith (Muslim mosque, Jewish synagogue, Buddhist or Hindu temple, Catholic church or cathedral etc). Make and maintain a friendship with a friend of another faith. Invite them to your home, and or cottage. When we have religious diversity, we are stronger.