The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Religious revelations: the critical differences behind faiths

Today’s global community is an network of different cultures and religions. This modern phenomenon has resulted in effort to look past the differences and consider them essentially the same. To religious historian Stephen Prothero this argument is untrue, condescending and dangerous.

Prothero discussed the need to recognize the various religions and their constituents Thursday afternoon in the Mack Ballroom of the Umphrey Lee Center. The lecture was part of the Wilson series, which aims to address issues of religion and faith.

“The religious people I knew; Catholics, Muslims, Jews affirmed very different beliefs,” Prothero said.

Prothero used his latest book, “God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter,” to guide his lecture. Prothero was adamant that various religions can not be seen as “different paths up the same mountain.” He compared this view to believing that different political systems like democracy and monarchy as the same thing.


For Prothero, one of the major points that differentiate the world’s religions are their analysis of the human problem. He believes each religion considers a different issue to be the error of humanity.

Prothero also considers what he calls the mathematics of divinity to create division. Meaning how many gods exist and are they one.

“Yes, say Christians in their own odd way, one and three equals one,” Prothero said. But many Hindus, not all say there is more than one god and many Hindus say there is fewer than one god.”

Crediting religion to influence public power, economies around the world and armies Prothero believes it is crucial to understand the principals of different religions. He advocates the need for religious people to gather together and discuss their beliefs.

Professor Ruben L.F Habito from the Perkins School of Theology agrees with Prothero. Ruben believes by coming together and understanding differences positive change can be made.

“We need to see what we can do together amid all these differences to see what we can do to heal our broken world,” Ruben said.

Prothero suggests that educating people in high school on religion and different religions could help prepare people for discussion. He argues for mandatory classes on the Bible as literature and history and on the world religions.

Citing the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Prothero believes an understanding of world religions would serve the best interests of the U.S.

“We didn’t know anything about Islam when we started those wars and that has been a huge problem.”

Junior Kirsten Gary attended the lecture for her Introduction to Asian Religions course. Having lived aboard for several years Gary recognizes the importance of understanding different religions.

“Being exposed to other cultures and religions makes you understand individuals on a whole other level,” Gary said.

Garry agrees that learning about other religions can prevent preconceived judgments from influencing international relations.  

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