Club studies different world religions

Published 1:15 pm Thursday, April 2, 2020

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A group of about 20 women have been meeting since Nov. 1, 1933, to engage in intellectual and civic pursuits.

They call themselves Montevallo Study Club.

With a few exceptions for holidays, they meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month for nine months of the year.

Each year a different, stimulating subject is chosen to study by the program committee.

The theme is a closely guarded secret until the September meeting each year.

Members rotate as officers, program presenters, hostesses, committee members and chairpersons.

In addition to their studies each year, they make monetary donations to local civic organizations.

In the past six months, the group has been studying World Religions, noting similarities and differences in the details of Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

They were scheduled to study Hinduism and Islam until interrupted by the COVID-19 virus.

Highlights from the details group members uncovered during their research of each topic include the following:

  • There are two different groups of Jews, one from Eastern Europe and one from the Mediterranean area of Spain, Italy and northern Africa. Their origins have influenced the way they live out their faith. The Jewish faith freely circulates books designed to teach young Jewish children about their faith from an early age.
  • Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Eight out of 10 Americans claim to be Christians. Protestantism is 40 percent of all Christians. The main belief that distinguishes Protestants from Roman Catholics is disagreement over the literal presence of God in the Eucharist.
  • Sikhism is a monotheistic religion. Sikhism is the world’s fifth-largest religion. They celebrate all major life moments in the presence of the Guru – like birth, puberty, weddings and death. Adherents are usually cremated. They believe in Karma, the reward or consequence for deeds; Sikhism supports the idea of reincarnation. Their text includes writings from other religions and forbids proselytizing and forced conversions. There is a Sikh temple on Morgan Road in Jefferson County.
  • The Buddha was born as a prince named Siddhartha Gautama in what is now Nepal, India, about 2,500 years ago. On a rare outing from his luxurious palace, at age 29, he was confronted with impermanence and suffering, causing him to give up his royal life in search of true Enlightenment. Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator god. Some people do not see it as a religion but more as a philosophy. Meditation and chanting are large parts of their worship. For those who wish to follow the path of the Buddha the end goal is nirvana or true understanding of self. Enlightenment represents the end of suffering for anyone who attains it.