“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?
I would have to agree with this statement. Religion, or even spirituality, but particularly religious beliefs, are firmly held by people and are seen as coming under attack when someone voices an opinion that is contrary to that person’s strongly held beliefs. Even people who do not believe in religion hold strongly to their beliefs. An argument can soon take place and no common ground will ever be reached. You will never get to know that person apart from his or her religious beliefs (or anti-religious beliefs) and you will never “convert” him or her to your beliefs.
The same holds true for political position. People develop their political position based on their experiences over a long period of time, and little discourse from another new acquaintance is going to sway their opinion. It will only lead to their beliefs becoming more firmly entrenched and you will not learn anything else new about the people, for example, they likes and dislikes, their child-rearing techniques, the hobbies, places where you might find common ground and actually make a new friend.
I would go one step further. Religion and politics should not even be discussed with people you know very well who hold differing opinions than yours. I know this from my own family. My daughter has very strongly held beliefs that differ from mine when it comes to religion and politics, as does my brother. I know from experience not to bring up those subjects with my daughter because we will inevitably end up in a heated disagreement that leaves us both frustrated and feeling angry.
My brother, on the other hand, constantly brings up political issues that will push my buttons. For example, when I called to thank him for a Christmas gift, he called me “an Obama zombie robot.” I unfortunately took the bait and tried to calmly explain that I voted for Obama based on the best information I had and he, of course, took shots at that, using the inflammatory words of “zombie robot” over and over. I soon realized that there was no discussion here and told him we just had to disagree on this issue and got off the phone call.
So I would say that discussions of politics and religion are not for the faint-hearted. Choose your opponents wisely. Never discuss these topics with people you don’t know well, and trend cautiously even with those you do know well. Ask yourself, are they open to meaningful discussion? If not, what’s the point? I personally would not argue for argument’s sake. But that’s just me.