The Roerichs considered the “question of religion” very important.
E.I. Roerich even believed that it would be the cornerstone “in the coming era of destined spirituality.” And “therefore, it is necessary,” she wrote, "to urgently lay in the consciousness of the younger generation a correct understanding of this most pressing issue" [1; p. 25.01.36]. Of the two Latin words most commonly used to denote the concept of religion – religio (piety, sanctity, conscientiousness, doubt, benevolence) and religare (bind, tie), the Roerichs singled out the latter as a person's connection with the Higher World or with the Higher Principle [1; p. 25.01.36 and p. 25.03.36].
“True religion is, first of all, the discovery of the highest law common to all people, which gives them the greatest benefit at this time” [cit. po 16, p. 19; “The end of the century”]. “True religion is such an attitude, consistent with the mind and knowledge of man, established by him to the infinite life surrounding him, which connects his life with this infinity and guides his actions” [ibid.; “What is religion and what is its essence”].
"The essence of religion, eternal and divine, equally fills the human heart wherever it feels and beats. All our research points us to a single foundation of all great religions, to a single teaching that has been developing from the very beginning of human life to the present day. In the depths of all faiths flows the stream of the one eternal truth… The basic essence of all religions – love for one's neighbor– is equally required by Manu, Zoroaster, Buddha, Moses, Socrates, Jesus, Paul, Mohammed." (Tolstoy L.N.)
The provisions of this true religion are so peculiar to people that as soon as they are communicated to them, they are accepted by them as something long known and taken for granted. For us, this true religion is Christianity, in those provisions of it in which it converges not with external forms, but with the basic provisions of Brahmanism, Confucianism, Taoism, Jewry, Buddhism, even Mohammedanism.Similarly, for those who profess Brahmanism, Confucianism and other teachings, the true religion will be the one whose basic provisions converge with the basic provisions of all other common religions. And these provisions are very simple, clear and laconic” [ibid., p. 20; “What is religion ...”]. “Thus, the plurality of creeds can only serve as proof of the inconsistency of individual religious teachings or churches, but by no means an argument against the necessity and truth of religion in general” [ibid.; “Confession"].
In the conditions of the “terrible spiritual crisis” experienced by humanity, E.I. Roerich emphasized, “we have never said, do not say and will not speak against any religion as such, or against temples. It is better to have a religion and a temple than without a temple.” But the Roerichs protested against “intolerance, ignorance and immorality” wherever these phenomena declared themselves [1; item 02.06.34].They did not put up with either “the terrifying all-consuming godlessness” or the decline in morality, which affected the church environment as well.
“It's time to understand," wrote E.I. Roerich, "that the world needs renewed souls capable of viewing and understanding with an eagle eye that the meaning of modern events is that on a global scale the unsuitability of obsolete ideas and constructions is being demonstrated, and new ideas of great tolerance are emerging among unheard–of collapses, like lightning in a black, menacing sky and cultural leadership” [1; item 17.02.34]. “Spiritual pastors,” she emphasizes in another letter, "are necessary, but they must be true leaders of the spirit and go with the needs of the age, and not lag behind, chained in the chains of ignorance of the dark Middle Ages" [1; p. 02.06.34].
With special gratitude, the Roerichs pointed to the “spirit of true goodness and omniscience” inherent in those ascetics of the East who, without renouncing the great images of their creed, felt the beauty of Christ's appearance and paid Him “tribute of their heart.” As such an example, E.I. Roerich cited the words of Swami Vivekananda: “Truly,” he said, "if I had lived in the time of Christ, I would have washed His feet with the blood of my heart" [1; item 02.06.34].
In Hinduism, as is often stated in works devoted to this religious and philosophical tradition, tolerance is an “object of faith”; at the heart of this approach is “a view of the world as a single family.” The ancient scriptures confirm this idea.
“A truly religious person should see that other religions are only many paths leading to the Truth. Everyone should always respect other religions.
Don't get into arguments. As you are firm in your faith and belief, so allow everyone to have equal freedom to follow their faith and belief” [18, p. 135].
Will the rose cry out to the lotus,
“You are not a flower!”,
Recognition of the right to freedom of religious belief was for the Roerichs a criterion of purity of any teaching.
“...Freedom of belief," wrote E.I. Roerich, "is the first rule of every true Teaching. Therefore, if the teaching speaks about improving life and self-improvement, then it is fine, and let each such Teaching have its own followers. ...People are so different, and wouldn't it be better to let them unite freely at the stage of consciousness that is closer to them?.. Spiritual unity is, first of all, the admission of a multitude and variety of stages of consciousness, but not the imposition of one's own. The desire for some kind of reconciliation is already such an imposition. Everything should be based on the example of Nature, which accommodates everything in itself and harmoniously selects its neighbors. Therefore, let us accept the expression of life in all its diversity, for this is all the power and beauty. Therefore, what is closer to our heart is our real step.The time will come, and our spirit will indicate the next one. So, my advice is not to strive for a violent reconciliation, but in a benevolent assumption sincerely follow the one who is closer to you [1; p. 04.11.35]
“It's fine,” she said, "if all the employees get acquainted with the basics of Buddhism, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Teachings of Confucius, Lao Tzu, Zoroaster, Hermes, etc." [1; p. 30.06.34].
..Precisely, it is necessary to affirm in the minds of people that without a spiritual impulse in us, no rite matters. It is necessary to constantly remind that the Grace of God can be perceived only consciously and voluntarily” [1; item 28.05.37; highlighted in the text].
The theme – religion at school – is integral to the most important direction in the concept of the Roerichs' Culture, related to the upbringing and education of the younger generation.