Ideal Vs. Reality: Religious Pluralism Vs. Religious Tolerance

1404 words - 6 pages

America is full and rich with diverse people, religions and values; they make America great. Just look at Riverside, California, there are over fifty churches of different denominations of Christianity, three synagogues, two temples, and one mosque; all coinciding peacefully in the city (Yellow Pages). Because Riverside is so diverse, religious pluralism and religious tolerance are two steps in making Riverside more connected. The first step is tolerance, a reflex that acknowledges a person will come across people of a different faith. The second step is pluralism, which is a better understanding of a person’s religion as well as the other religions around them. Many believe pluralism is the better of the two, because of the interaction involved and the creation of harmony, but pluralism’s faults are greater than the benefits. Currently religious pluralism is quality America should strive for, but America is not ready for pluralism yet, so religious tolerance is best for the diverse population of America today.
Religious tolerance and religious pluralism have many different definitions, depending on the person’s interpretation of the word and where the person gets the definition. Every person of every faith and the people without a faith can have a different definition for tolerance and for pluralism. Diana L. Eck, the director of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, gives a clear definition for pluralism. Pluralism is a two way street of dialogue, knowledge, understanding, and active participation (Eck 2 “From Diversity”). Pluralism is not meant to be an assimilation of religions or that a person of any faith has to believe all religious paths are true. Religious Tolerance is the continuous congruent relations between different religions and religious denominations (Robinson 1). Tolerance is a street with a different lane for each person; tolerance gives a sense of being alone and being united at the same time. Tolerance is reflexive discipline that does not require people interacting together, however most people used tolerance every day. Both pluralism and tolerance can been seen in society today as they are defined.
The government is preventing pluralism, by pushing for tolerance. As America creates a social network for nations, the citizens are using tolerance, where they don’t have to learn or understand, making a barrier. For instance, Madeleine Albright in The Mighty and the Almighty, noted that U.S. ambassadors did not have to understand or know about the major religion of the country they were in (Prothero 5). This is dangerous because if ambassadors do not have to understand all of the country, then how can the United States expect a citizens to understand the religions around them. America is creating a nation where many are seeing the world from a solely tolerant perspective. The media contributes to the tolerant perspective, as there is a “us” vs. “them” mentality. As Douglas W. Shrader, a professor of Philosophy...

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