In a world where intolerance and bullying dominates all aspects of society, including the headlines, tolerance is an important gift to give children. In Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home, (Chalice: 2017) author Traci Smith offers the following practice on tolerance. Excerpted with permission:
The Golden Rule
When I lead workshops, I’m often asked, “How can we raise children who are conscious of other religions and their traditions?” Usually, my answer is that people should make sure you get to know friends of other religions and learn what is important to them. Living in a religiously diverse community is a blessing in this regard. The following simple activity is another way to get the conversation going.
Designed for Ages 5+
1. Pieces of paper with the words of Luke 6:31 written on them (Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” in the NIV translation, but you can use whatever version of the Bible you’d like.) HERE is a coloring sheet that also works for this practice.
2. Art supplies to decorate the page, such as crayons, markers, glitter pens, stickers, or colored pencils
3. Poster depicting the golden rule in various religions (HERE is a link)
Time Investment: 15–20 minutes
1. Gather everyone together to talk about the golden rule. Say, “One of the most important things that Jesus said was that we should do to others as we would have them do to us. Some people call this ‘the golden rule.’ What does ‘the golden rule’ mean to you?”
2. Pass out the coloring sheets and art supplies and have everyone decorate them as you continue your conversation.
3. Say, “One interesting thing about ‘the golden rule’ is that many different religious teachers have said similar things.”
4. Show the poster or printout of the golden rule in other religious traditions and read a few of them.
5. Discuss the golden rule with one or more or of the following questions:
What do you think it means that so many of the world’s religions have variations of ‘the golden rule’?
Do you know anyone who is a member of another religion? What do you know about his/her religion? Would you like to talk with that person about the golden rule?
Why is it important to follow ‘the golden rule’ no matter what?
The depth of the discussion your family is able to have will depend largely on children’s ages and exposure to interfaith discussion. This activity is a great one to pull out again every few years and see how ideas have changed and grown.
Different faith traditions and denominations have different ways of talking about other religions in relationship to one’s own. If you have questions about how to approach this topic with your family in a manner consistent with your faith tradition, consider talking with a leader in your place of worship. When in doubt, err on the side of tolerance, love, and respect.
Consider inviting a friend of another religion over for a special meal.
Skip the coloring part and just do the discussion. Conversely, do the coloring part and skip the discussion. Or, do the whole practice over two days.
Post the golden rule poster in a prominent place in your house and refer to it often.
© Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home Traci Smith, 2017
Traci Smith is pastor of Northwood Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in San Antonio. She is the author of Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home. (Chalice: 2017). Faithful Families is a book of faith practices families can use at home to deepen faith and connection. Traci enjoys speaking to groups of pastors, parents, and Christian educators about faith formation and practice. www.traci-smith.com