Monday, November 14, 2011
Ancestry and Religious Tolerance
So here I am, sticking my neck out and writing about one of the two subjects that I find to be most uncomfortable. Call me very brave indeed.
It struck me last night as I watched three television shows on TLC that I find fascinating. The first is Sister Wives, then 19 and Counting, and the new show that premiered, All American Muslim. It is always interesting to me to learn about the faith of others, how it impacts their lives, perhaps the persecution they suffer because of it, and at times the misunderstanding or complete ignorance of others.
Last night the Sister Wives, who all now live in Las Vegas, traveled to Boston, only a 30 minute ride north of my home. Now they are in my neck of the woods; how about that, I thought, somewhat amused. They visited Harvard University where they gave an audience to students who asked very interesting and intelligent questions. Smart kids go to Harvard.
Then the family visited Plimouth Plantation, only a 30 minute ride south of my home. They were introduced to John Howland's (my 9th great grandfather) wife and a mention was made about a connection to Joseph Smith, Jr. of Vermont, the founder of the Latter Day Saints movement. That comment is what spurred me on to write about Religious Tolerance.
Interestingly enough, my maiden name was Smith. I had a great grandfather by that very same name, Joseph Smith, from Maine, but definitely not that Joseph Smith.
What does all this have to do with genealogy you wonder? How could that promote religious tolerance you ask? In researching my family tree I found the following faithful all praying to God under the following denominations: Methodists, Baptist, Quaker, Puritan, Catholic and now possibly LDS. More research is needed on the latter. Who knows what other faiths could pop up on my tree.
If one finds fault the way others pray to their God, then perhaps it would be best if one researched the history in their own family trees. One just might discover that they have been ridiculing their own ancestors and therefore ultimately themselves. I feel safe to say that just about everyone will find more than one denomination on their genealogy chart. Isn't it worth noting that what is important is that they have a good heart, are kind to their neighbors, intend no harm to others, and live by the golden rule.
What right do we have to condemn others for the way they choose to pray and live their faith. After all, religious freedom is what this country was founded on lest we not forget. Diversity is the faith of life, peace to all.