Pluralism

Image via RNS/Reuters/Brittany Greeson

The American Civil Liberties Union collected more than $11 million and 150,000 new members. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Twitter account gained 9,000 followers. And the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and other bigotries, saw donations increase fiftyfold.

In the days since Donald Trump won the presidency, these spikes, in support for groups that defend religious and other minorities, speak to a fear that the president-elect will trample on their rights — or at least empower those who would.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

Americans voted largely along the lines of race, education, and party identification. Nonwhites strongly preferred Clinton, while whites decisively chose Trump. Compared with past Republicans, the businessman received a stunning surge of votes from non-college-educated white voters.

None of this is surprising.

And yet the result upends so much conventional wisdom. 

Eboo Patel 07-26-2016
Rittikrai Pix / Shutterstock

Rittikrai / Shutterstock

I SPEAK ON about 25 college campuses a year, which affords me a front row seat for current trends in identity politics. One of the things I’ve noticed is that when people say they are engaged in “diversity work,” what they often mean is that they are busy mobilizing their preferred identity groups toward their approved politics. The main role they see for those on the other side is to be defeated.

But the real challenge of living in a diverse democracy is not dealing with the differences you like, it’s working with the differences you don’t like.

In his excellent new book, Confident Pluralism, John Inazu, a professor at Washington University Law School and board member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, takes a long look at how to do this, with special attention to religious differences.

Disagreements with regard to religious matters are some of the most challenging ones around. That’s because religion is about ultimate concerns. Not only do faith traditions deal with issues—creation, salvation, morality, human purpose—that are inherently ultimate in nature, they imbue matters that may otherwise be viewed as mundane with a sense of ultimacy. That’s not just a random group of people over there, that’s the church, or the umma. That’s not just any old piece of land, that’s the place where the Second Temple once stood, or where Lord Rama was born.

Inazu opens his book with a sobering quote from the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “It is impossible to live at peace with those we regard as damned.”

He is reminding us right off the bat that the stakes could not be higher.

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

Almost 1,600 years after St. Augustine founded the first Roman Catholic church at Canterbury in 597 C.E., the British people have been told in no uncertain terms that they’re no longer living in a Christian country.

A sensational report released this week by the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, challenges this country’s time–tested moral and public values system. In language that raises eyebrows — and tempers — the report says United Kingdom (U.K.) should cut back the Christian tone of major state occasions and shift toward a “pluralist character.”

Events such as a coronation should be changed to be more inclusive, it said, while the number of bishops in the House of Lords should be cut to make way for leaders of other religions.

Jeffrey Salkin 10-09-2015
Emka74 / Shutterstock.com

Photo via Emka74 / Shutterstock.com

I never liked “Imagine.” I am not the only Jewish teacher who feels this way.

“Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too.”

Lennon was saying: Let’s get rid of nations; let’s get rid of religion; let’s get rid of the idea that there is something above me that is worth dying for, and that might even be worth killing for.

Let’s get rid of the passions that help us transcend ourselves. Maybe that’s why the melody of “Imagine” is so subdued — almost like sleepwalking.

“Imagine” is a dream, and not a very good one.

Cindy Brandt 09-22-2015

Image via /Shutterstock

I think the reason why the Christian Internet is so exasperating is because it is filled with so many people. Sensational click baits trend because we love juicy scandals. We share angry articles and judgmental pieces because it satisfies our human desires to point fingers and be in the right. The Internet has exposed the basest of our human fears and aired out our dirtiest laundry with the lure of anonymity and protection from our screens. 

The Christian Internet is all of us with our mess, our flaws, our brokenness, our hurts, our mistakes, and our pains. Which means that as hard as it is for us to see through the hazy noise pollution, behind every instigator of a mean meme is a person made in the image of God. And as long as I believe that is true, you can’t pry me away from the Christian Internet because I am not about to miss the astounding beauty that is sure to rise from the squabbling ashes. 

Eboo Patel 08-05-2014

We can work with others even while disagreeing on significant issues.

Richard Rohr 06-05-2013

Our Script Matters

Martin L. Smith 05-11-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C

Eboo Patel 05-11-2013

Bridges don't fall from the sky; people build them.

An inaugural prayer should connect the particularities of one's own faith tradition with the pluralism of the nation.

Eboo Patel 01-07-2013

The stories we tell today are simply the next chapter in an overarching narrative of hope, justice, and pluralism.

Daniel Burke 11-08-2012

U.S. Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard will become the first Hindu in Congress.

Congress will become a shade more religiously diverse this January, after Tuesday’s election of the first Hindu representative and first Buddhist senator.

Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, will become the first Hindu-American congresswoman, after defeating her Republican rival on Tuesday.

Glen H. Stassen 11-02-2012

Excerpt from A Thicker Jesus: Incarnational Discipleship in a Secular Age, by Glen H. Stassen

Members of Wisconsin's Sikh community hold a candle-light vigil for six people killed in an attack a day earlier.

Imagine the terror.

You are in a temple, a safe, sacred place, preparing for a morning service. In the kitchen, you are busy cooking food for lunch, while others read scriptures and recite prayers. Friends begin to gather for the soon-to-start service.

At the front door, you smile at the next man who enters. He does not smile back. Instead, he greets you with hateful stare and bullets from his gun.

Such was the scene Sunday at a Sikh gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wis., just south of Milwaukee, where a gunman, Wade Michael Page, killed six and critically injured three others before being shot down by law enforcement agents.

As Page began his shooting spree, terrified worshippers sought shelter in bathrooms and prayer rooms. Rumors of a hostage situation surfaced, and those trapped inside asked loved ones outside not to text or call their cell phones, for fear that the phone ring might give away their hiding place.

The first police officer to arrive on the scene stopped to tend to a victim outside the gurudwara. He looked up to find the shooter pointing his gun directly at him, and then took several bullets to his upper body. He waved the next set of officers into the temple, encouraging them to help others even as he bled. 

That magnanimity is a common theme among the stories of victims and survivors of the Wisconsin shootings. Amidst terror and confusion, Sikhs offered food and water to the growing crowd of police and news reporters outside the gurudwara as part of langar — the Sikh practice of feeding all visitors to the house of worship.

the Web Editors 08-07-2012

Ralph Singh, director of publications and public relations for Gobind Sadan — "God's House Without Walls," a spiritual community rooted in the Sikh tradition with locations in India and the United States — responds to the mass shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh gurudwara that has devastated the faith community.

Sikhism was founded more than 500 years ago in India. Observant Sikhs do not cut their hair, and male followers of the religion wear turbans, which they consider sacred.

"A Sikh, wherever they go in the world, is committed to building community a community of peace, an inclusive community to stand as an affirmation of what we now call pluralism," Singh says.

Listen to what Singh as to say on a video inside the blog ...

 

Eboo Patel 07-01-2012

If the forces of pluralism don’t write the next chapter in the American story, the forces of prejudice will.

Sandi Villarreal 04-11-2012
Miroslav Volf. Photo via Wiki Commons (http://bit.ly/HABnUJ).

Miroslav Volf. Photo via Wiki Commons (http://bit.ly/HABnUJ).

An interconnected, interdependent world means a greater intermingling of faiths and the possibility for conflict. We’ve seen it in the United States in anti-Shariah legislation and the recent atheist Reason Rally.

Theologian Miroslav Volf, director and founder of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, argues that globalization and the resurgence of faith in the United States increases the need for pluralism in public life.

Daisy Khan 02-01-2009

An interview with Muslim leader Daisy Khan.

Theological schools and seminaries are changing the ways they prepare their students for our increasingly multireligious world.

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