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By Robert Wuthnow

Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of alternative non-Western religions became an important presence within the usa lately. but many american citizens 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 no figuring out a lot approximately these faiths? Are we prepared to do the labor required to accomplish actual non secular pluralism?

Award-winning writer Robert Wuthnow tackles those and different tricky questions surrounding non secular variety and does so along with his attribute rigor and magnificence. the United States and the demanding situations of non secular range appears not just at how now we have tailored to range long ago, 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 publication 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 numerous teams to worship freely, yet sobering simply because few americans have afflicted to benefit a lot approximately religions except their very own or to interact in confident interreligious discussion. Wuthnow contends that responses to spiritual variety are essentially deeper than well mannered discussions approximately civil liberties and tolerance might recommend. relatively, he writes, spiritual variety moves us on the very center of our own and nationwide theologies. in simple terms by means of realizing this significant size of our tradition do we manage to flow towards a extra reflective method of spiritual pluralism.

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7 The survey—which I will refer to as the Religion and Diversity Survey—was conducted with a national sample of 2,910 adults, selected to be representative of the adult population of the United States. It was conducted by telephone and each set of questions lasted approximately thirty-five minutes. 8 After the survey, we contacted two hundred of the respondents who were church members and asked them twenty to thirty minutes of open-ended questions about their beliefs and the activities of their churches.

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.

8 After the survey, we contacted two hundred of the respondents who were church members and asked them twenty to thirty minutes of open-ended questions about their beliefs and the activities of their churches. We also contacted the pastors at fifty of their churches to find out from them what their churches had been doing vis-à-vis followers of other faiths. To put this contemporary evidence in historical perspective, I examined hundreds of primary and secondary documents from the past, ranging from books and letters to journal articles and statements issued by religious organizations.

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