I was raised as a Christian and still have many Christian based beliefs. But if someone would ask what my beliefs are I would probably say I have beliefs from many different religions. I think other various religions can teach us alot. Alot of religions come from the same places around the world. And alot of those same religions have pagan derivatives in them.
Now you may be saying Christianity has no such thing. But that Christmas tree that is probably still standing in your living room right now was first a pagan tradition. It predates Christianity by many centuries. Pagans, Druids, Hebrews, and many others celebrated the Winter solstice on December 21. They would decorate coniferous trees with pieces or metal, fruits, & candles. They were celebrating the change of the sun and a new season for growth in the coming year. The taking down of the tree on January 1st is also another Pagan tradition. They would take the cut evergreen and burn the Yule log for remembrance of the past year.
My only point is some Christians make religion so cut & dry without really thinking about what was truly behind many "Christian" traditions. They care not to learn were traditions stemmed from. They just do it because the rest of the Church does. Their belief systems are based around not only the bible but what is the popular belief. i.e. meat eating... I have been on the retrieving end of alot of grief for my beliefs that are not popular belief or that stem outside of Christianity. Even if in stemming outside of Christianity it is just spoken differently but really has the same meaning. I have literally been verbally attacked and they want to actually argue about why my beliefs are "wrong" and why theirs are "right" and why I am going to hell for having various beliefs outside of what they consider to be "Christianity".
I mean things like.. I don't feel it honors our lord to mass slaughter & eat his creatures...
Take the mass slaughter of animals today. God teaches compassion, love, & respect. Mass slaughtering creatures that were supposed to be made by him probably isn't a thing that is looked very nicely upon. God was said to have made humans in his likeness. Well I think that if that is true he would want us to care for his creations to the best of our ability. All of his creations including people, animals, and our world . Creatures that he has made to have emotion and feel pain, and have lives of their own should be respected right along side humans.
Wiccas have a creed and in this creed it states "Live you must and let to live. Fairly take and fairly give" its also states Eight words the Rede fulfill "An' ye harm none, do what ye wilt". Those are all very important words to me. I think they are all three good values to live by. When I was growing up and people would find out I didn't eat meat the first thing they would say is "Well god put them here for us to eat" and I am sure everyone has heard that. And even though I knew god taught love, compassion, & respect I started reading through other religious materials. I wanted to find more teaching of kindness towards all. Wicca was one I stuck on and to this day still read about.
Another religion that I am sure you have heard of is Buddhism. In Buddhism there is so much respect shown to all. The most foundational teaching is Ahimsa-the prohibition against the bringing of harm and/or death to any living being. Why should one refrain from killing? It is because all beings have lives; they love their lives and do not wish to die. They fear death just as you and I do. The Karma of killing is also seen as the root of all suffering and is the cause of sickness & war. To a Buddhist the purpose of life is to end suffering and become enlighten. They believe that all living creatures are sentient and that they all have a chance to become a Buddha, or perfectly enlighten. But unlike Christians they do not believe a god created the world. They do however look to the Deities for assistance.
Other religions also share kind thoughts about other living creatures besides our selves.
"Meat cannot be obtained without injury to animals, and the slaughter of animals obstructs the way to Heaven; let him therefore shun the use of meat." The Laws of Manu V, 45 - 52 (Indian Sacred Book)
"All creatures on earth are sentient beings. "There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings - but they are communities like you." The Quran, 6:38
I don't feel that I am going to hell for these beliefs outside of per say "Strict" Christian beliefs. I know that I am in good standing knowing in my heart that I am on the right path and that god is in my heart. So many Christian beliefs stem from outside religions Christians are just afraid to find the original origins. They are stuck inside their box. And I think that is a huge down fall. I think there is a love and calmness you can feel in your heart from being in tuned into nature around you. By not hurting any of it and feeling the love. Empathizing with each other and the animals. I think empathy is a beautiful state of being.
The only reason that religion was brought up was because I was at Borders purchasing a new Calender. I have been thinking about getting one of this type for a while and just so happened to run into it. So I picked up a Witches' calender. When I checked out with it and an art book the cashier was all nice at first and then looked at the calender then me then her happy none caring attitude kinda dried out. I don't know if it was the calender but that was the only thing that she looked at then at me and then... she was different. Who knows. Then thinking back over the holidays at how proud Christians are. They have such pride. And no thats not a bad thing. But when their pride makes them act like they are right about everything & better then everyone else it makes for a not so great holiday, view of the church, and of Christianity all in one. Sometimes it is time to drop the pride and not be so rude to each other. To have a more open mind instead of being on the attack of others beliefs. And to not be so hypocritical about those religious beliefs.