In the age of religious freedom, and freedom of expression, what better way to profess your love for your creator than an outward symbol of devotion? As an American, you’re free to profess your faith from the rooftops, but don’t force another person to practice your faith. Recognition and respect are quite different from acceptance and incorporation. We recognize everything by identifying traits, but respect that which respects us. Accepting a difference doesnt mean you have to incorporate all its customs onto your own. An invitation to wear religious paraphernalia is a hope that shouldn’t be taken personally if declined. Likewise religious tolerance would prohibit the unfaithful from being invited to participate without offense.
Yesterday, the French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen refused to wear a head scarf to meet the Leader of Lebanon, and two Women’s Chess champions refused to participate in a tournament held in Iran for the same reason. Inviting someone to take their shoes off at the front door isn’t a deal breaker and you certainly wouldn’t refuse your guest entry if they didn’t, would you? If your answer is yes, be prepared to have the invitation rejected and be comfortable facing the rejection. Compromise is an arduous resignation sometimes and being courteous means smiling through your emotions.
Be it a Kippa, veil, Turban, or burqua the devoted don these objects, however just as any expression, the unfaithful shouldn’t be forced to participate. Invitations should be extended and boundaries placed. Those boundaries are either accepted, compromised, or rejected. Many displaced Northern Californians are learning this lesson when the Sikh community opened their places of worship for evacuees. Pets are forbidden and no meat is served within their walls, and those with pets make concessions to maintain the mutual respect by leaving their animals nearby or a foster home while staying there.
If we all could learn the lessons of our heart, we wouldn’t object to a polite rejection. If a person strives for acceptance from others regardless of outward expression, they too should also accept “no” as an answer to participate.