In the 21st century we live in an increasingly diverse world, where the movement of people and ideas occurs at a dizzying pace – and this includes people’s religious beliefs.

Trying to teach children about tolerance in general, especially when there seems to increasingly be a dearth of it going around, can be hard enough, but inculcating a sense of religious tolerance can seem especially daunting. Children receive stimuli and cues from all sorts of different places, so it is incumbent upon parents to try and do the proper groundwork.

You should acknowledge with your kids that religious tolerance is an important part of modern life. You could try and explain that some people believe that their religion is the only true belief-system and that members of other faiths are bad. Parents need to be firm in their beliefs that this kind of thinking is unacceptable, and that God loves all His children equally.

Explain to your child that it is okay to be proud of your religion and what you believe. Religious tolerance does not mean that you must suppress your own faith or feel ashamed of believing a certain way or holding a certain set of values. Explain to them that it is okay for you and your family to believe one thing and for others and their families to believe differently from you. Teach them with love about the good things about your religion. Explain to them why certain prayers are said are certain times or why particular foods are eaten at a defined point during the week or the year. If you provide them with a love and pride in your religion, it’ll help them to understand that people can have love and pride for other belief systems.

Try and explain to your child what other religions believe and why they do so. So much of religious intolerance comes from the mysterious element of people not fully understanding – or in some cases caring – why religions require their adherents to practice in a certain way. Encourage your children to ask questions – not only about your own religion – but invite them to be curious about others. Keep the dialogue respectful at all times and if they ask questions to which you are unsure of the answers or genuinely don’t know, perhaps approach a friend or a religious leader who is of that religion and get clarification from them.

A great way of demystifying other religions is to take part in multi-religious events. It has become commonplace in many parts of the United States and no doubt other countries too, for religious communities to try and work together with institutions and people of other faiths in their local area. If your children witness other kids of their age involved, engaged and enjoying themselves in a religious atmosphere it will help them to understand that difference is not a thing to be intimated by.

One of the best ways to create an environment of religious tolerance is to discourage intolerance. It helps if you have successfully provided your children with a love for their own religion; it’ll help them comprehend that although tolerance is not solely a religious concept, the teachings of your faith show that everybody, regardless of whether they have a different faith from you or none, is still made in the image of God. By teaching them to stand up for the neglected and oppressed you help them to support their classmates and their peers. Tolerance doesn’t mean tolerating unacceptable behavior, it just means that everyone should be treated with respect.

Author's Bio: 

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 to promote understanding between Christians and Jews, and build support for Israel. Learn more about the IFCJ here: https://www.facebook.com/FellowshipFan/
The IFCJ was founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a leading advocate of religious freedom who has dedicated his work to building bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews. Learn more about Rabbi Eckstein here: http://www.ifcj.org/who-we-are/leadership/rabbi-yechiel-eckstein.html