By Robert Wuthnow
Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of alternative non-Western religions became an important presence within the usa lately. but many americans proceed to treat the us as a Christian society. How are we adapting to the recent variety? can we casually announce that we "respect" the faiths of non-Christians with out figuring out a lot approximately these faiths? Are we prepared to do the labor required to accomplish actual spiritual pluralism?
Award-winning writer Robert Wuthnow tackles those and different tough questions surrounding spiritual range and does so along with his attribute rigor and elegance. the USA and the demanding situations of spiritual range appears not just at how we've got tailored to variety some time past, yet on the methods rank-and-file americans, clergy, and different neighborhood leaders are responding this present day. Drawing from a brand new nationwide survey and 1000's of in-depth qualitative interviews, this ebook is the 1st systematic attempt to evaluate how good the kingdom is assembly the present demanding situations of non secular and cultural diversity.
The effects, Wuthnow argues, are either encouraging and sobering--encouraging simply because such a lot american citizens do realize the perfect of various teams to worship freely, yet sobering simply because few americans have to benefit a lot approximately religions except their very own or to interact in positive interreligious discussion. Wuthnow contends that responses to non secular variety are essentially deeper than well mannered discussions approximately civil liberties and tolerance may recommend. relatively, he writes, non secular variety moves us on the very center of our own and nationwide theologies. in simple terms through realizing this crucial measurement of our tradition do we manage to circulate towards a extra reflective method of spiritual pluralism.
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Extra info for America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity
We have considered ourselves defenders of the faith, a God-fearing people, and a Christian nation. At present, we remain one of the most religiously committed of all nations, at least if religious commitment is measured in numbers professing belief in God and attending services at houses of worship. Our identity is still marked by this fact. Many Americans take for granted that we are a Christian society, even if they implicitly make a place in this notion for Jews and unbelievers. Others take pride in our national accomplishments, our democratic traditions, and our extensive voluntary associations, assuming that these reflect Christian values.
I immersed myself in the research literature on those topics. I learned that contact between members of different religious or racial groups often reduces prejudice and hostility, that education and information generally have a positive effect on attitudes, and that tolerance has been increasing. I also learned that expressions of tolerance mask more complex attitudes and understandings, and that some of the most complex of these arise from religious teachings and traditions. For more than a decade, I have been listening to what Americans say about their faith, looking closely for clues about how they manage to choose certain beliefs and practices at a time when there are so many options from which to choose.
We shall see that Americans came early to accept the idea that their society, while diverse, was fundamentally Christian and that the meaning of diversity should be understood primarily in reference to the Christian majority. We shall also see that Christians’ attitudes toward other religions reflected Americans’ understandings of themselves and their own religion. Over the centuries, these understandings have changed; yet the struggle between a theology of exclusivism and a civic code of pluralism has remained constant.
America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity by Robert Wuthnow