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 U.S. as a Christian society. How are we adapting to the hot variety? will we casually announce that we "respect" the faiths of non-Christians with no knowing a lot approximately these faiths? Are we keen to do the exertions required to accomplish actual non secular pluralism?
Award-winning writer Robert Wuthnow tackles those and different tricky questions surrounding spiritual range and does so together with his attribute rigor and magnificence. the United States and the demanding situations of spiritual variety seems to be not just at how we have now tailored to variety some time past, yet on the methods rank-and-file americans, clergy, and different group leaders are responding at the present time. Drawing from a brand new nationwide survey and hundreds and hundreds of in-depth qualitative interviews, this e-book is the 1st systematic attempt to evaluate how good the kingdom is assembly the present demanding situations of spiritual and cultural diversity.
The effects, Wuthnow argues, are either encouraging and sobering--encouraging simply because so much americans do realize the ideal of numerous teams to worship freely, yet sobering simply because few american citizens have to profit a lot approximately religions except their very own or to interact in confident interreligious discussion. Wuthnow contends that responses to spiritual range are essentially deeper than well mannered discussions approximately civil liberties and tolerance could recommend. really, he writes, non secular range moves us on the very middle of our own and nationwide theologies. purely through knowing this significant size of our tradition can we be capable to stream towards a extra reflective method of spiritual pluralism.
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An apparent inconsistency in political rhetoric like this would hardly merit attention were it not for the fact that it points to something much deeper. American identity is an odd mixture of religious particularism and cultural pluralism. Although it is not an established religion, Christianity is the nation’s majority religion, and its leaders and followers have often claimed it had special, if not unique, access to divine truth. Yet the reality of religious pluralism, including beliefs and practices different from those embraced by Christianity, has also had a profound impact on American culture.
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.
Yet if one examines discussions of religion in the past, it becomes clear that diversity was seldom divorced from thinking about ourselves and our identity as a nation. Contributors to these discussions believed that America was a special place and that its distinctiveness was somehow related to a divine purpose. That purpose necessarily carried implications for their understanding of the various religions they encountered. Particularly when America’s purpose was associated with a distinctly Christian view of God and of God’s people, as it often was, the founders and promoters of America were compelled to adopt a position toward other religions.