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BrooklynnEarly
JohnKubler
English114A
21September2013
ModernDayCrusade:AsPeopleFightforTheirReligion,ItProvestobeProblematic
WhenIwasyounger,IwasalwaystaughttocommunicatewithGodasifhewasstanding
infrontofmeandattimes,IwouldbeteasedatschoolfortalkingtoGod.Kidshadseenitas
bizarrethatIwastalkingtomyselfandevenmoreoutlandishwhenItoldthemIwasjusttalking
toGod.Itwasmywayofprayingandatayoungage,Ididn'tcarewhatothersthought,itdidn't
mattertome.However,IcouldnotunderstandwhyIwasn'tallowedtoprayduringclassand
whynooneelseinmyclasswastalkingtoGodjustasIwas,butmymomhadexplainedtome
thateveryonedoesn'tbelieveinGod.Therefore,everyoneisn'tgoingtotalktoGodlikeIdoand
thatmyprayingwhenImaroundfriendsandclassmatescanreallyoffendothers.Marjifrom
MarjaneSatrapisbookPersepolisseemstohavethesamerelationshipwithGodthatIdid
whenIwasyounger.YoungMarjiwouldhaveadisscussioneverynightwithGod.Religionplayed
averyimportantroleinmychildhoodandeveninmydailylifetodaywhichseemstobethecase
foralotofpeopletoday.Religionisveryimportanttosomeandtherearepeoplethatwillkilland
dieinthenameoftheirreligion.However,forsome,religionplaysnopartintheirlives.Itis
difficulttodefinewhenreligionhasaninfluencewhiledealingwithreligiousindividualsandnon
believers.Thelinethatseparatesreligiousinfluencefromirreligionhasnotyetbeeninterpreted.
Religionaccountsforjubilationaswellasstrifeinpeopleslivesandaslongasthereremains
freedomtoexercisereligion,therewillbethisongoingconflict.However,religionisinevitable
andthereisnorightwaytodealwithreligionaslongasitholdssuchasignificancetopeoples

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lives.Iwillbedelvingintotheimportanceofreligioninotherculturesandsuggestingwaysin
whichAmericashoulddealwithreligioninforeigncountries.
PersepolisbyMarjaneSatrapiillustratestheeffectsthatreligionhasonthecultureof
othercountries.Theyoungprotagonists,MarjilivesinIran,wherereligionistakenveryseriously
andinthebeginningofthestoryshesaysIwasborninreligion,sosheunderstandsthe
importanceofreligioninhercountry(Satrapi6).Asacareerchoice,Marjiassertedthatshe
wantedtobeaprophetandfromthat,thereadercanmaketheconclusionthatreligionisalarge
aspectofherlife.Marjiwantedtobeaprophetbecausehergrandmotherskneesachedandher
fatherdroveacadillac.Sheunderstoodtheimportanceofreligionandbelieveditwouldchange
herfamily'scircumstances.Thisisimportantbecauseitshowstheimpactofreligiononchildrenin
Iran.InAmerica,mostchildrenwouldsaytheywanttobeastronauts,firefighters,andeven
fairytalecharacters,notamessengerofGod.Astheplotevolves,Marjidevelopsanimaginary
friendwhoisGodandtheyexchangedialoguepertainingtowhatisgoingoninIranandher
communicationwithherimaginaryfriendisultimatelyhowshecopeswiththings.Religionishow
peopleovercomethingsandtoknowthatthereissomethingouttheremuchgreaterthanoneself,
iscomfortinginthetimeofneedandconfusion.Marjiwasinastateofconfusionconsidering
someofthethingsthattookplaceinIranatthetime.Herschoolwasforcinghertowearaveiland
revolutionswerehappening.Marjineededsomethingsheknewwasstableandwouldcomforther
throughitall,whichiswhyshecreatedherfriendGod.InthewordsofMarji,theonlyplaceI
feltsafewasinthearmsofmyfriend(Satrapi52).sheknewthatthoughnothinginIranwas
fixed,herfriendwouldalwaysbethere.

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PersepolisalsohighlightsthedifferencesinculturesbetweenAmericanandIran
whenitcametoreligion.InAmerica,wehavethefreedomtoexercisewhateverreligionwedesire
andthegovernmentdoesnotdictateourbeliefsnoristhereanofficialreligionsetinstonethatwe
areforcedtobelievein.InPersepolis,thereligiousleadersruledandrepublicwantedtobe
calledIslamictheystrivedtoincorporatereligionintheirgovernment(Satrapi62).InAmerica,
religionisnotembeddedintogovernmentdecisions.Alongwithourfreedomofreligion,wehave
nolawsthatrestrictourexpressioninAmerica.InthestartofMarjisstory,theywereforcedto
dressliketheywereapartoftheMuslimcommunityandthosewhospokeagainstitwerejailed.
RevolutionarieslikeMohsenShakibaandevenjournalistslikeSiamakJariwerejailedforatleast
fiveyearsforgoingagainstthebeliefsofthegovernmentorchallengingitsbeliefs.Satrapi
uncoverswhatitsliketohavethefreedomswetakeforgrantedandeventheimpactreligionhas
onpeopleinothercountries.IbelievethatalthoughIranisdeeplyembeddedintoitsreligious
values,Americahasamoreeffectiveapproachindealingwithreligion.InAmerica,isachoice,its
notforced.
Itwouldappearforsomepeoplethatifreligionwasremovedfromgovernmentandeven
removedcompletelyitwouldmakelifeonearththatmuchmorebearable.Worldfamoussinger
andsongwriter,JohnLennonwroteasongcalledImaginethatexploresthepossibilitiesofa
worldwithnoreligion.Withalltheterroristactivitiesthataregoingonandthevastnumberof
peoplethathavekilledinthenameinofreligion,itwouldonlyfeelrighttoimaginetheresno
heaven(Lennon).Therewouldbenoendinggoalfortheindividualsthatslaughterandtortureas
meansofreceivingdivinesanctionfromtheirDivineBeing.AmbassadoroftheUnitedNations
andformerSecretaryofState,MadeleineAlbrightacknowledgesthatreligionsinfluenceon
worldeventsisinherentandpersistent,becausereligionissuchanimportantpartinpeoples

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livesandinothercountries,itsomethingthatwewillinevitablyencounter(Albright34).Religion
isalsothereasonbehindmanywarsandotherradicalactsofaggression.Religiouswarsarelong
andmoreviolentandwithnothingtokillordiefor,theselongviolentwarswouldnotbean
issueaccordingtoJohnLennon.BruceHoffman,anexpertonterrorism,whohasservedas
ChairmanoftheDepartmentofInternationalRelationsandtheauthorofInsideTerrorism
illustratesthedeadlyinfluencereligionhasonterrorism.Todayalargemajorityofterroristhas
someformofreligiousideologybehindtheirmotivesandindeed,thereligiousimperativefor
terrorismisthemostimportantdefiningcharacteristicofterroristactivitytoday(Hoffman).Since
religionissacredtopeopleandistakenintensivelyserious,religiousmotivatedwarsandattacks
provetobefarmoredeadlythansecularattacks.Thereasonwhyreligiousterroristviolenceis
moreintensethansecularterrorisbecauseofthedrasticdifferencesinvaluesandbeliefsbetween
cultures.Religionhasbecomethejustificationforterrorandtoomanythroatshavebeencutin
Godsnamethroughtheages,andGodhasenlistedintoomanywars(Albright35).Youmay
questiontheseriousnessofreligionandforterrorist,buttheydonthesitatetodefendtheirbeliefs.
Withtime,thefightforreligionandthefightforlifewillcontinue.Whatsevenmoreintimidating
isthatterrorismmaybeenteringaperiodofincreasedbloodshedandviolenceaccordingto
expertBruceHoffman(Hoffman).Basically,therewillbemanymoreliveslostinthenameof
religion.
Twoqualifiedprofessionals,AlbrightandHoffmanexplorewaystoapproachreligionwith
othercountriesthathaveasystembasedonreligiousvalues.Strategiestopreventattacks,suchas
givingterroristgroupsmoneyandothermaterialisticthingsareineffectivebecausethesegroups
aremoreconcernedaboutpleasingtheirDivineBeingandtheultimatesolutionsliefarbeyond
militarystrategy(Hoffman).Americadoesnothaveenoughknowledgeoftheseforeignbeliefsto

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properlydealwiththeseconflicts,thisrequiresatminimum,thatweseespiritualityasasubject
worthstudying(Albright35).Thereisnotenoughknowledgeoftheseviolentreligiousgroups.It
wouldbeprematuretoassumetheworstaboutthesereligiousgroupswithoutfullyunderstanding
themaswewouldlikethemtounderstandus.Thereasonthatthesegroupsattackisbecausethey
feelasthoughtheirbeliefsarethreatenedorchallengedandabridgeneedstobefoundbetween
mainstreamandtheextremistsotheydonotfeelthreatenedandforcedtowithdrawinheavily
armedtactics(Hoffman).Bymainstream,HoffmanisreferringtoAmericasmediaand
popularculturethatpaintthepictureoftheseextremisttobemalicious,villainous,immoral
people,whichiswhereAmericaslackofknowledgecomesintoperspective.

TodayinAmerica,wehavefreedomofspeechandreligion,whichisn'talwaysthecasein

othercountries.AsMarjaneSatrapisPersepolisillustrates,Iraniangovernmentinfluences
religionandevenyoungkidsrecognizetheimpactofreligionontheirlives.Peoplewho
challengedIranianbeliefswerejailedandotherswereforcedtodressaccordingtoMuslimbeliefs.
ThereisadifferenceinthewayAmericanspracticereligionandhowreligionisinother
countries,suchasIran.Terroristsareaformofareligiousgroupthathasaterriblereputationdue
tothefactthattheytortureandkillinthenamesoftheirGod.ItisimportantforAmericato
increaseitsknowledgeofthesegroupsinordertoprotectthiscountry.Religionbringspeople
togetheraswellseparatesthemandsadlyenough,religionisoneofthereasonbehindkillingand
death.Although,itseemslikeagreatideatoeliminatereligion,spiritualitygivespeoplehopeand
somethingtolookforwardtointhesehectictimes.Afterfurtherresearchandincreasingmy
knowledgeofhowpowerfulreligionisandthedifferencesbetweenreligioninAmericaandother
countries,Ihaveanewfoundappreciationformybeliefs.IamgratefulthatIliveinacountry
whereIhavethefreedomtopracticewhateverreligionIpleaseandthatmyreligiousbeliefsarent

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threatened.IappreciateourFirstAmendmentbecauseIdontbelieveIcanliveinaplacethat
doesntallowmetofreelypracticemybeliefsorforceotherbeliefsonme.AsanAmerican.I
believethattheknowledgeofreligioninforeigncountriesshouldbeincreased.Thereshouldbea
mutualunderstandingbetweencountrieswhenitcomestoreligion.Itwouldbeniceifweallcould
accepteachothersbeliefsandpractices,ratherthanthreatenoneanotherorusingGodtojustify
ourwrongdoing.

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WorkCited
Albright,Madeleine.FaithandDiplomacy.Print.21September.2014
Hoffman,Bruce.OldMadness,NewMethods.rand.org.Web.21September2014
Lennon,John.Imagine.azlyrics.com.Web.21September.2014
Satrapi,Marjane.PersepolisTheStoryOfAChildhood.Pantheon.2004.eBook.21
September.2014