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Handout 2: Respecting Others' Spiritual Practices

There are more than six billion people in the world. Many use spiritual practices and rituals that may be unfamiliar to you, but offer deep meaning to them. In your own search for truth and meaning, you may want to try an unfamiliar practice. Here are some ways you can show respect:

Ask about restrictions on who can participate in a practice or ritual. For example, your sex, age or language, or something about where or to whom you were born, may make it inappropriate for you to participate, according to cultural or faith rules for a spiritual practice. Even if you really want to participate, if you learn you are not allowed to do so, avoid being rude. Respect the rules of the practice.

If you are invited to participate, watch and listen to others performing the practice until you are sure of what to do.

Before or after (but usually not during!) a practice, ask questions in a respectful way. For example, "I am curious about why you do _____ when you pray" is more respectful than "That looks/sounds/smells weird. Why do you do that?"

Thank the person who invited you to participate.

Learn more about the faith and/or culture that produced the practice so you can have a deeper understanding of the practice's context.

Avoid telling people you are knowledgeable about a practice that you have only read about, observed or performed a few times.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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