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Kimberly Rosas De Almeida

John Kubler
English 115
23 September 2014
Understanding the Other Side
Have you ever stated your opinion then someone automatically disagrees and begins to
argue with you? Of course, everyone has a different perspective and some people do not realize
that an opinion or belief is neither wrong nor right. Whether religion is present or not, there will
always be controversy and conflict. Some may say that all conflict between countries rise from
religion, but society should strive to understand someones belief instead of undermining them. In
Marjane Satrapis Persepolis, the readers tag along while young Marji changes her religious
perspective during the tough times in Iran. Factors that affect her view point as a young child are
the political turmoil in Iran forcing a certain religion on the population. Sources that exemplify
unnecessary conflicts with religion are Albrights articles Faith and Diplomacy, The Hobby
Lobby Lawsuit Court Case, and Strutzman v. Ferguson Court Case. Keeping those in mind you
realize the impact religion makes on society and the different view point society has on religion.
When thinking of both Persepolis and the other texts, an interesting question comes up: Is religion
a negative or positive impact on society? Should religion be involved with politics?
From a personal perspective, religion has formed many positive and heart-warming
communities. My family has gone through harsh times (just like any other) and religion has kept
my family going with hope. Although there has been some horrible things done in the name of
faith, there is also all the wonderful good deeds that people do for their religion. Such as volunteer
work, building schools in third worlds countries, and doing all they can to help those in need. In
Persepolis, there are several events that demonstrate these actions. Marji is given advice by her

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mother, Bad people are dangerous but forgiving them is too. Dont worry, there is justice on
Earth (Satrapi 53). Although Marjis mother believes that forgiving them is wrong, religion
points a positive attitude towards forgiveness. Her mother wants justice and revenge which can
sometimes create even more conflict. Marjis mother tells her not to forgive but she chooses to
follow her faith and forgive. There is always a good and bad side to situations. Instead of wishing
revenge on people, she chooses to understand and forgive. This could be a strategy for others to
intake, instead of rushing to violence and fear.
As for the second question, religion can be a beautiful thing but when being involved in
government that is when things get tricky. Personally, I would encourage for political affairs to
stay away from any religious conflicts. But since that is a bit unrealistic the second best thing is to
motivate politicians to have an understanding of different faiths. In Persepolis, the readers witness
Marjis hardships as a child because of the politics in Iran were based on religion. She is not only
intelligent but is also aware of all the changes going on in her country. To start off, she had to
begin wearing a veil to school and strongly disagreed in participating because no one would
explain the purpose of the veil. She looked for explanations and searched for information on what
was going on in Iran. In confusion Marji said, We didnt really like to wear the veil, especially
since we didnt understand why we had to (Satrapi 3). This was unusual for all the young women
and is the first glance that Marji got of the changes occurring in Irans government. This displays
the negative impact religion can have if it is involved in politics. It creates misunderstanding
between the people and government.
What Marji experienced was years ago, but yet we still experience similar situations
happening now. In Madeline Albrights, Faith and Diplomacy, she portrayed why government
should try their very best to establish an understanding of the any religions in the United States.
Albright fights for this, While dividing the religious from the political has fostered peace and

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stability here at home, we must keep in mind that religion often plays a much more central role in
affairs of nations abroad (Albright 34). She is hoping for the United States government to try to
understand religion from nations abroad because then they will understand why they are having
certain conflicts. Others may disagree because it is not our own country having the issues, but we
can still grow as a country if we all attempt to help.
The Hobby Lobby Court Case also contained a confusing religious factor. The argument
was between someones religious freedom and a womans right. The owner of Hobby Lobby
would not allow their women employees to have contraceptives apart of their health plan with the
company. Justice Ginsburg emphasizes the difference between the employee and the employers
religion. Ginsburg states, The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would deny
legions of women who do not hold their employers beliefs access to contraceptive coverage
(Ginsburg 10). Ginsburg is simply stating the obvious, why should the employees have to abide to
a religion that is not their own? They must accept one anothers religion, the Hobby Lobby store
owners are trying to force their religion upon employees instead of respecting that they have their
own beliefs.
The Hobby Lobby owners were forcing their religious beliefs upon their employees and in
Persepolis the Shah was doing the same. The Shah did not respect the fact that Iran had a diverse
population with a variety of religions. Instead of trying to understand his peoples beliefs, he
forced his own on them. If the people allowed themselves to open up to the idea of understanding
someone elses religion, then a majority of these problems would not exist. They would not exist
because once you understand what someone else believes you are being exposed to an important
part of that person. This does not necessarily mean you have to agree with their beliefs but now
you are aware of why they choose to practice a certain belief.

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Another relatable case would include the impending trial between Stutzman and
Fergurson. The case demonstrates religion affecting another store, in this case a flower shop.
Barronelle Stutzman, a florist in Richland, Washington, is being sued by Attorney General Bob
Fergursons for refusing to sell flowers to Robert Ingersoll and his life partner for their wedding.
Although Ingersoll could have easily just left and purchased floral arrangements elsewhere, it is
understandable why they are angry. Both sides of the argument had their specific rights, but no
right or belief is more important than the other. Stutzman calls for justice, Its a personal
conviction, its not a matter of being right or wrong. Its my belief (Andrews 1). This statement
reveals that Stutzmans intentions were misinterpreted. She respected the fact that he was in a
same-sex relationship but she clearly told him because of her religion she could not sell him floral
arrangements for his wedding. She did although sell him flowers for any other purpose. Ingersoll
had the right to be offended but he should have also tried to see it from her point of view. If both
sides would have simply attempted to see where the other stands than the case would be avoided.
In Persepolis, Marji lost faith in her god because of all the terrible things occurring. This
demonstrates the negative impact a misunderstanding can create. Marji lost her faith because of all
the conflict that was surrounding her. Marji screamed in hatred to her god, Shut up you get out of
my life!!! I never want to see you again! (Satrapi 70). She was angry with her god because he
uncle Anoosh was executed. Religion in politics creates a huge impact on adults and the youth.
For Marji, religion was a positive escape; she was able to talk to her god at any time of uneasiness.
But the religious government created this negative atmosphere and caused for Marji to begin
neglecting her god, it turned her rebellious. If the government tried to understand its people,
maybe Marji would still have hope in her country.
Instead of judging or undermining others beliefs and perspectives, we should attempt to
understand their point of view. Whether religion is the matter of conflict or not, there will always

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be disagreement. To possibly avoid these disagreements, everyone should consider understanding
why they believe what they do and respect it.

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Works Cited
Albright, Madeleine. Faith and Diplomacy. 2006. PDF.
Andrews, Annie. Local Florist Refuses to Service Same-Sex Marriage. KEPR 19. N.p., 6
Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2014
Ginsburg, Ruth B. Hobby Lobby v. US Government. 30 June 2014. Dissenting
Satrapi, Marjane. The Complete Persepolis. New York: Pantheon Books, 2007. Print.