Religious Pluralism

November 14, 2017

Understanding religion is essential in understanding oneself, society, and others, according to Eileen Barker, former sociology professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

"Religion is such a central part of life for the individual, for their identity. It often defines their world view," she said, which Barker added includes challenges like ignorance, bigotry, selective bias, and the refusal to listen to other perspectives due to the notion that one's faith is superior.

Religious pluralism counters those challenges. It is the acceptance of the coexistence of diverse faith groups in society, something that Barbara McGraw, director of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism at Saint Mary's College, said is part of the core American identity that the Founding Fathers intended.

In order to begin to work toward pluralism among faith communities, she added, people must engage in conversations and be willing to listen and see things through a lens different from their own.

"When you do that, you create relationships with people, and when you create those relationships, it’s much easier to have those conversations," McGraw said.

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