—Bob Abernethy comments: “One of the things that some polls have indicated is that we can, at the same time, hold the belief that our religion is true and that there is truth in all religions — that we do this — that we don’t seem to find any conflict with that.”
—John Green comments: “One of the most interesting things was an apparent disjunction between the great deal of tolerance that individuals in all the religious traditions expressed towards other faiths, but at the same time, a real ignorance of other faiths — many people admitting that they didn’t understand the beliefs of other groups and had never even met another member of that group.”
—James Merritt, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in an interview: “A lot of times what people are interested in, in these interfaith gatherings is basically, Let’s all come together and, implicitly, let’s affirm the truth claims of one another and let’s affirm that we’re all equal and that your claim is no more valid than mine and mine is no more valid than yours.”
You may visit PBS to see the original airing: SPECIAL REPORT: Exploring Religious America, Part Five: Comments and Analysis May 24, 2002 Episode no. 538 (I am outside the US and was unable to load the program).
Alternatively, look online to find data from Pew or one of the polling organizations (Gallup, US News, etc.) to better understand the demographics and recent trends in thinking about religion in America.
Please answer at least two of the questions below and include an explanation for your answer. Don’t forget to cite and reference when using outside sources. Read the thread and respond to at least one classmate on a separate day for full participation credit!
1. Do you think it is possible for a person to believe his or her religion is true and still respect the truth of other religions?
2. Is it easier to be tolerant and accepting of a religion about which you have some knowledge and understanding?
3. Do you think that supporting constitutionally protected religious freedoms requires you to believe that all religious beliefs are equally valid?
4. Can you think of instances where one person’s religious freedom might clash or interfere with another’s?
5. What do these three statements suggest to you about Americans’ attitudes toward religious diversity?