The British are well known for having topics which we just do not discuss in “polite” society, sex being one of the most vehemently refused subjects; yet the topic that is the unmentioned unmentionable is that of religion. Most would argue that in twenty-first century Britain religion does not hold a large or perhaps important role in society as a whole. The tradition of hiding from uncomfortable subjects is prevalent in our society, and who can blame that?

When talking about religion, one opens up a can of worms which could potentially wreak havoc on the fabric of society as we know it. In the past, when religion was a big part of society, it pitted families against one another, mothers against sons and fathers against daughters. Religion has always been a source of contention. Surely then it isn’t so wrong of us to want to keep such a volatile topic under wraps?

In the twenty-first  century it isn’t just adults who veil their religion from the public; we the teenagers do so too. Who can blame us? In this century, fashion dictates the world and expressing an alternative individuality in such an environment is generally seen as a blunder by our critics (generally our peer group). It takes great courage on the part of those who do freely express their religion to continue doing so. If we all followed the example set by Muslims who wear the Hijab or Niqab, or the Sikhs and Muslims who also wear the turban, we would be braver people.

In modern society, religion has taken a back seat to many things: fashion, trends, culture and even social networking. Those of us who do choose to reveal our religion often face mockery and taunts and barbs which are hurtful to say the least. The sheer nastiness of confronting an issue such as religion is immense and its sensitive nature is not dealt with properly by teens in particular.

However, to see where the youth get their revulsion of religion one does not have to look any further than the politicians and the media and how those who do respect religion and openly follow one are depicted. Muslims are now generalised as Jihadists and terrorists, despite the fact that most are not. One can see that this generalisation is unfortunate and has no place to be publicly mentioned either as a taunt or a cruel barb. How is it fair that at Customs, when entering a country, those with Asian features are scrutinised more carefully than those who share the characteristics of Caucasians? And woe betide those who enter the Western world wearing religious covering which could identify you as a “terrorist” or a threat. So is it any wonder that we teenagers feel that religion shouldn’t define us or be used as a label?

Labels are everywhere in today’s society, a society where you are patronised for being different where individuality is only good if you are rich or famous, religion is another label and one that many of us are keen to shed due to society’s interpretation of it. It is perhaps a good thing that a sensitive issue such as that of religion is kept under wraps. However, there is something to be said for those of us who do wish to follow tradition and follow our religions to the core, and those of us who choose this should have the ability to do so without fearing retribution or a backlash.

Religion’s importance has dimmed over the years and faith schools have become more prevalent as those who wish to follow their religion do so in closed quarters with like-minded individuals where they feel sheltered and part of a smaller community. A community that appreciates their decisions, unlike the rest of twenty-first century Britain. A secret taboo is almost paradoxical: how can one exist without us knowing about it? Well, it is secret in the fact that it is a taboo subject that we all know to be a taboo, but it is not a written rule that tells us religion should not be discussed publicly.

Religion has been deemed as many things over the years, as a livelihood, a way of fitting into a community but one thing that most of us try to overlook is that history teaches us that religion has always been controversial and a point of contention. And for the foreseeable future it will remain as such. So the reason for us not mentioning religion as teenagers is that we simply don’t want to be party to the emotional trauma and backlash that we are capable of unleashing from its Pandora’s Box. So is it bad to have a taboo in society where free speech is a right? Perhaps not as much as the liberals amongst us would like to protest.

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