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Word Count: 1,354
The student of religion faces a number of challenges on embarking upon the close examination of any given religion We firstly need to question and maybe even dismiss our own assumptions prejudices and perhaps even attitudes in order to gain the fullest picture of the religion we wish to study There will also be the need to consult others and gather evidence in order to further our own understanding and with such a variety of evidence both academic and religious who do we believe We also as with other studies need to attempt to define our area of study this itself presents a challenge with so many religions to consider how do we put our definitions to the test and how conclusive can we deem our results to be On beginning our study firstly we need to ask ourselves why we are making this study Is it to better understand the world we live in or is it to find religion ourselves or enhance the belief that we already have The question of whether a persons existing religious beliefs may affect the way they treat the beliefs of others does need to be asked To cite a rather exaggerated example a Southern Baptist in America embarking upon a study of Islam may have difficulty dismissing the words of one of its churches prominent figures Jerry Vines who claimed Mohammed the Islamic prophet and founder of the church of Islam was a demon possessed paedophile 1 Although this example is extreme it does go some way to highlight the difficulty that someone with strong religious convictions may have in accepting the belief systems of others We also need to bear in mind the question of who should study religion I was raised within a strict Roman Catholic family and whilst I can say that I have experienced belief in God first hand I would not profess to this in my adult years does this
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