Religion plays an important part in many people’s lives, but there are many differences between them. A Jewish mother and a Mormon teenager explain their beliefs.
How would you explain your religion to a five-year-old?
JEWISH MUM: The Jewish people are a nation who share, a common land (Israel) a common religion (Judaism) and a common history dating back to Abraham.
TEEN MORMON: We believe in God and come from an prophet called Joseph, who is from America.
Why this religion?
JEWISH MUM: Being Jewish is something someone is born into and does not choose to become. A person who converts may choose Judaism for a variety of reasons, sometimes they may have Jewish ancestry. Other times, it's after years of spiritually searching and not finding fulfilment in their lives. A person may get the feeling that their soul is incomplete.
TEEN MORMON: I was born into this religion but I choose to stay because I believe in the message of our church.
What makes you keep faith?
JEWISH MUM: Keeping strong in our faith is what has enabled the Jewish people to survive. I am a link in this chain, and believe that a person should always be striving higher in their faith and actions.
TEEN MORMON: Because whenever I have a problem I know I can turn to God, who is always there for me and has always been there.
When have you questioned your faith or beliefs?
JEWISH MUM: No, although I may not understand or have an answer for everything about Judaism, I truly believe that God knows what He is doing.
TEEN MORMON: Whenever I am having hard times or when people say things that seem true and I haven’t done the research behind it.
What would make you turn against your religion or beliefs?
JEWISH MUM: Nothing, I know that I come from a long chain of ancestors who have remained faithful to God’s message even during the most difficult periods throughout history.
TEEN MORMON: Disagreeing with the rules even though knowing the reason behind them.
What beliefs of your religion do you disagree with?
JEWISH MUM: I don't disagree with any of the beliefs of Judaism - However I don't always agree with the way certain things are interpreted by certain individuals.
TEEN MORMON: I don’t disagree with any of them because I know they all have a purpose and reason, but I don’t enjoy following all of them. Sometimes I wish they weren’t there but I know they have a purpose and are keeping me safe.
Do you believe your religion is the ultimate religion? Why?
JEWISH MUM: Judaism believes that every single person has their job in this world. We don't believe that one has to be Jewish to become close to God.
TEEN MORMON: Yes I believe my religion is the true religion, but that’s just my personal opinion, I’m not saying others religions are right or wrong.
How do you practise your faith?
JEWISH MUM: Judaism involves every single aspect of a person's life. It involves every single facet of life, from what we eat, to how we wake up in the morning, how one gets dressed, how a person is expected to interact with one another, with prayer, with talk...and in all areas of thought, speech and action.
TEEN MORMON: Attending church, seminary (religious bible study), daily prayers and practising my beliefs.
What would someone get out of joining your religion?
JEWISH MUM: Judaism does not believe in proselytizing. Judaism believes that one can fulfil his or her purpose without becoming Jewish if they were not born into this faith. General Jewish law initially discourages one from converting, to ensure that one is sincerely ready and committed to changing every aspect of their lives.
TEEN MORMON: Friends, family, people who accept you for who you are.
Friends, family, people who accept you for who you are.
How would someone join your religion?
JEWISH MUM: Their first step would be to go to a Jewish court of law. The Rabbis from the Beth Din, would explain to the person the difficulties of being Jewish, and try to discourage one from conversion. After a person has shown a strong level of commitment, they would study with a partner, all the aspects of Judaism. This could take several years. If they are still committed, they can go through the formal conversion process, which means committing to follow the Jewish way of life. They also choose a Jewish name.
TEEN MORMON: Speak with the missionaries, attend church, get baptised.
Have you ever been discriminated against because of your religion?
JEWISH MUM: I have experienced discrimination and anti-Semitism many times over my life, from being screamed at in the street "effing Jew" or "Hitler should have finished you all off". When I was a teenager, a friend and I were verbally abused on a bus ride for 20 minutes, which left us both shaking and traumatised. Despite this I have been very lucky to have lived in countries where different religions and beliefs are accepted.
TEEN MORMON: Yes, many people believe that the church of Latter-Day Saints is a cult or that we are liars because we have a different prophet to other Christians.
Have you ever discriminated against someone because of their beliefs?
JEWISH MUM: I don't believe so. Every person has to find the right spiritual path for their life, in order to fulfil their role in this world.
TEEN MORMON: No, everyone is entitled to their beliefs, just like me.