Outside of houses of worship, most people should actively avoid the topic of religion, and rarely speak to one another about their own, personal religious beliefs. Unfortunately, a favorite Lebanese pastime is to sit and discuss religion and politics — loudly.Because there is a time and place for everything under the sun, including discussions about religion, what do you do if the topic does come up? What if you’d like to share your beliefs, but are worried that you might say the wrong thing, offend someone, or simply create some unwanted tension?Talking about your faith in Lebanon can be scary and nerve-wracking. Whether you are religious or not, you might want to follow the three tips below so that you’ll likely find it to be a pleasant experience:- Don’t use it as an opportunity to push your faith on othersWhen asked about your religious beliefs, don’t use it as an invite to try converting someone. If your conversational partners ‘are’ interested in converting, then trust me they will find a way themselves. Simply share what you believe and why it matters to you, answering their questions clearly and politely. A conversation can quickly turn sour if you tell someone that their soul is damned for not believing as you do. If you’re a religious person and your goal is to attract people to your faith, then drop the missionary zeal and do it by example instead. - Be willing to listenIf you are talking about your faith to someone who believes differently than you do, then it is important to let them have a chance to speak and explain their beliefs as well. You need to listen. Even if they do have a different religion, chances are that you could learn a thing or two about how other people relate to God and the divine. Differing religious views are a large source of misunderstanding in this country, and the best way to eradicate these misunderstandings is for people to find a way to talk about their beliefs in a patient and open manner. - Don’t feel like you have to justify your beliefsIf the conversation turns to what has led you to your faith, then don’t be afraid to share the experiences that have shaped and solidified your beliefs. However, in Lebanon most of the time it feels like someone is asking you about your beliefs in order to antagonize you, convert you to some other religion, or to knock religious belief altogether, then try to cut the conversation short and don’t let yourself get dragged into an unnecessarily stressful situation. When someone asks you about your beliefs, it doesn’t mean that you owe it to them to defend your faith right then and there.–Faith is a highly personal thing, and no one can hope to understand your beliefs after a short conversation, and therefore has no right to think they know what is better for you. Be careful, however, not to see innocent questions as insults. If you think that someone has the wrong idea about your religion or your personal faith, then try not to see it as an attack, but rather as an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings in a respectful manner.If you approach conversations about religion in such thoughtful ways, then you’ll be helping to build some bridges that this country sorely needs.