My name is Margo Fioravanti and I am in the IFFP Teen Group. People often ask me to share my thoughts about my experience being interfaith.
Everyone has their own unique set of religious beliefs and opinions, no matter if you were brought up with one faith or multiple. Being interfaith is an essential part of my identity and I take pride in it. I use my interfaith identity to navigate my relationships with others and inform my world view. To demonstrate my acceptance and make my peers comfortable, I make a conscious effort to learn about their religious beliefs and treat them with respect. In turn, they do the same for me.
For example, in the winter when I bring up my celebration of Hanukkah, I am often asked, “Wait, don’t you celebrate Christmas too?” I respond by saying, “Yes, I celebrate both.” As an interfaith individual, I find that many people are interested and accepting when they learn about my identity, even if they are unfamiliar with the term. I feel welcomed and safe sharing about my interfaith identity whenever it is brought up, which is a testament to the wonderful community of people that I surround myself with.
Exodus 23:9 teaches that “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of a stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” Although this passage may not always refer to religious identity, many people have aspects of their identity that they feel uncomfortable sharing. Accepting others’ beliefs is a great way to bond and connect.
Leviticus 19:18 states “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against someone from your nation. Love your fellow as yourself.” I like to focus on the religious side of this passage. Although I know of many different religions, there are still many more that I don’t. When someone talks about their religious beliefs, I strive to accept and understand their point of view, without holding a grudge due to our differences, as the reading suggests. Feeling comfort and appreciation from others accepting your beliefs and traditions can help you be proud of who you are.
There is no reason to feel ashamed of your religion or religion(s), and I’m glad to have a safe place like IFFP where I can open up and talk with others who share similar experiences.