This is a topic I can personally relate to and I feel like others can relate to this as well. I come from a family that is predominantly Protestant. There are only a few of us, myself included, who are Catholic. And by living in Kentucky, I live in what we Americans call the “Bible Belt.” The Bible Belt is a region located withing the southeastern part of the United States where the number of Protestants outweigh the number of Catholics.
So how are Catholics to interact with people of other Christian denominations?
Why don’t we see what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches? In paragraph 1934, the CCC states “Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin.”
Let’s begin with the first part of the CCC’s sentence. Every human being is created in the image of God. And the CCC points out that there is only one God in whose image we are created. This means that we are all created in the same way. And we are all equally given “rational souls.” This means we are all created the same and are given the same basic structure.
This sameness is continued in the second part of the sentence in that we all have “the same nature and the same origin.” As stated in the paragraph above, we’re all made with a basic structure. I keep saying that we are made with a “basic structure” because God gives each of us different qualities and talents.
But even though this is the case, we all come from the same place: God.
And specifically addressing “the same origin,” let’s look at where the different denominations have their beginning. Before the Protestant Reformation began in the early 1500’s, there was only one Christian denomination: Catholicism. The various Protestant denominations came about when people wanted to reform something within the Catholic Church. So all Christian denominations, Catholics included, have a common origin.
But what does that mean for how we are to interact?
Even though each denomination has something different from the others, I believe we are to see each other as equals. Yes, there is room for disagreements. But that does not mean that we have to disrespect each other. If these disagreements come up, we can address them politely and with civility.
And every human being is valued by God. So we should respect each other despite our disagreements. For the person you disagree with on a particular subject is valued by God. Why don’t we try to value them as well?
Okay, but what about people of faiths other than Christianity?
Let’s look again at what the CCC says. The CCC states in paragraph 1935: “Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.”
What does this mean?
How would you feel if someone was disriminating against you because you’re a different gender than them? Or because you’re a different color or race than them? Or because the two of you come from different countries?
We cannot discriminate because of our differences. We have to remember that every human is created by God with different qualities and talents. So while we are the same in our identity as people loved by God, we have to remember that God also made us different.
So what’s the final verdict?
Treat everyone as equals. For that is what we are. We’re all equals, no matter where we what we believe and/or what denomination or faith practice we come from. Treat everyone with respect. Even if their beliefs differ from yours.