STEP TEN CONTINUED: Seek tolerance and, when possible accept all religious faiths without judgment.
Instruction: Try not to judge.
Living a life that is free from judgment, of ourselves and of others, is probably impossible. As with many things in life, a balance must be struck—this time that balance is between discernment and judgment. We can visit a religious service and discern whether we believe it is a positive environment for us, or we can sit in judgment of what we hear and the spirit in which it is presented. Judging tends to divide the world into good and evil, whereas discernment is more personal and allows us to make value judgments based on personal needs. If we attempt to push these value judgments onto those who haven’t sought our opinion or advice, we might find ourselves crossing the line between discernment to judgment. This can lead to gossip, rumors, and vicious attacks. There is, at times, a need to report facts, but when we do so, we try to report those facts without prejudice or judgment. When it comes to accepting other religious belief systems, an important thing to remember is that we often judge them based on information given to us by people with prejudices for or against those institutions.
Someone who was abused by a particular religion or by a religious person will tend to be biased against that person or group. They will often judge the entire religious system based on one encounter. This is understandable, but when we are attempting to reconcile religious beliefs in an effort to open our minds to other paths, listening to someone berate a particular religious organization can be detrimental to our goals. Because those who are working through the Religious Recovery program are working through some religious abuse of their own, we want to remember not to judge an entire organization based on the misdeeds of one or a few. There are limits to what we can accept, and our attempt is to accept without judgment whenever possible. There may be times, however, when it is not possible to accept a situation. When that occurs, we do our best to remove ourselves and go our separate ways. If there is a need for more serious action to be taken, we do so with as much love and grace as we can achieve, always acknowledging that we are each capable of failing, too.
For today, look at ways in which you judge the world. How critical are you when it comes to religious beliefs or people you meet. Are we quick to discount someone or some belief based on judgments passed on to us from others without ever questioning those judgments for our self? Can we begin turning our judgments aside and learn how to be more discerning?
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.