What have I learned about religion during my time here in London? An awful lot actually. But perhaps more importantly, what differences exist between the cultural diversity here and cultural diversity back home in San Luis Obispo? The differences between the two are quite numerous and have been very enlightening for my understanding of various religions.
First off, lets enumerate the facts I have learned during my time here in London. Before this trip I had never heard of religions such as Sikhism, Druidism, or even Jediism. London is a city vastly populated with atheists, while at the same time, it is home to a multitude of different religions and cultures. The multiculturalism of London gives the city a distinct feel and although most of the residents are atheist, the people here seem to be genuinely accepting of other people’s chosen religions. Also the city has distinct areas that pertain to certain religions. For example, Brick Lane is n area that has been predominantly Muslim for the last hundred years. Still, Londoners are so accepting of this religion that it is becoming an area that attracts more and more young adults every day due to its good food, friendly people, cultural diversity, and beautiful architecture. Various London boroughs are also home to the Jewish community, and although these people have been discriminated against in the past, the events of World War Two have led to a much greater acceptance of London’s Jewish community. Another interesting point of London is its various cathedrals and churches. Many of these buildings are much larger than any church I have come across in California. These buildings have been standing for hundreds of years, and although many of their visitors are not Christian, these churches accept various religious peoples because they know that they go there to appreciate London’s cultural heritage and beautiful architecture.
London has also taught me much about new religious movements. I would even go so far as to say that some of these new movements are also a “tongue in cheek,” take on the basic ideas of what a religion actually is and how it cannot be properly defined. The perfect example of this would be Jediism. While Jediism was may seen as just a group of Star Wars fans, its ideologies seem to resonate with millions of people worldwide, and London itself is home to various sects of this religion. And though most of us do not worship lightsabers and laser blasters, Jediism actually provides hope and answers to those who are looking to enrich their lives through something great and mysterious.
Now lets look at religious diversity back in San Luis Obispo. SLO has very little to offer in the realm of religious diversity. The population is predominantly Christian, and religions such as Sikhism, Islam, and Hinduism are extremely rare to come across. Is this because we do not make these religions feel welcome? I sincerely think so. I feel that clothing articles such as hijabs would label a person as an outsider and most SLO residents would decide to treat these people differently based on their religion instead of seeing them as just another person first and foremost. Upon returning to California I will do my best to make people of any religion feel welcome and not treat them as an outsider. These people are just like us and though they may choose to follow a certain religion, every religion carries the same basic undertones of treating others as you yourself would like to be treated.