For 35 years, I attended the same religion. When I left, I realized I didn’t know the first thing about what other faiths believe. So I decided to find out the only way I know how: Go ask. For 52 weeks, I’m setting out to visit 52 different religions. Christian to Muslim, Buddhist to atheist, I’m going to attend their services, discuss faith with their leaders, and bring it all back to you.
So says John Hummel, Mormon-cum-atheist. Every week he podcasts his experiences with a different religion, from Unitarian Universalist to Jehovah’s Witnesses, from Church of Satan to Sikh Gurdwara, from Scientology to Christian Scientist, from Lutheran to Shia Islam, from humanism to Vedanta Hinduism. Hear John’s introductory podcast episode here.
This podcast offers 52 bite-size solutions to America’s religious illiteracy. An excellent listening experience.
Here is my favorite interview question I’ve heard from John yet, from the Unitarian Universalist episode (paraphrased slightly):
I’ve gone to each church and asked: “What are the important things people should be doing?” If I go to an Islamic service, they say “Help the poor, the sick, and the needy.” If I go to the Catholics, I get the same answer. If I go to the humanists, the same answer. I don’t think that anyone so far has told me much otherwise. But when I look at our society at large, we do a really bad job at all of those.
If everyone really believed we should be helping the homeless, we wouldn’t have any. If we really believed we should be helping the sick, I wouldn’t encounter people who have cancer and can’t pay for it.
We spend our time arguing about whether we should put the Ten Commandments in a courthouse or not, or whether gay people should get married or not. We spend so much time arguing about our differences, instead of doing the thing we all agree we should be doing. Why is that?