"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Religious Pluralism versus Tolerance

Continuing my recent theme of religious tolerance, and why it is not good, and what are the alternatives:

“Eboo Patel is an American Muslim of Indian heritage. Brought up in Chicago, he struggled in his youth with his cultural background and came to understand how different faiths could be the source not only of mutual enrichment but as readily could become mutually exclusive. At school he witnessed religious discrimination at first hand as to his shame he turned away when his Jewish friend was subjected to anti Semitic taunts. Patel was no stranger to bullying himself on account of his faith origins. Most importantly, his own upbringing made him consider the forces that determine whether a youngster follows a route of hatred against the world or takes the alternative and happier route of love and compassion for all. He realized that much depends upon whom you meet when you are at your most impressionable. He saw firsthand that the twenty first century is being dominated not by the color line but by a different line, which he calls the faith line. This, he points out, is no less divisive and no less violent than the color line. The faith line does not divide different faiths, or separate the religious from the secular. This line is divisive between the values of religious totalitarians and the values of the religious pluralists. The former believe that their way is the only way and are prepared to convert, condemn or indeed kill, those who are different, in the name of God. It is this side of the faith line that gives religions a bad press in the eyes of the secular public. The pluralists on the other hand hold that ‘people believing in different creeds and belonging to different communities need to learn to live together in equal dignity and mutual loyalty.’ Pluralism is the belief, Patel explains, ‘that the common good is best served when each community has a chance to make its own unique contribution.’ What Patel soon realized was that the dangerous religious fundamentalism we see around us is nurtured in the young, in the disaffected youth of our day who are taken advantage of and exploited for fundamental political aims. It is those youth of today who fuel the religious conflicts we witness, who martyr themselves while they kill or maim thousands. He also knew that the main faith leaders over the decades who have campaigned for justice and peace, leaders such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela all started young; they became active while still in their youth.
Inspired by this knowledge Patel saw that there could be no better place to make a start in trying to achieve a harmony and a common good among all America’s variants of religion than with this youth of today, those who will shape and see tomorrow’s world. It was against this background that in 2003 he founded the Chicago based Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC).
The idea of the IFYC was simple. Its mission is to build ‘a global movement of interfaith youth cooperation by generating mass public support for interfaith youth work, equipping youth-focused institutions to positively engage their religious diversity, and nurturing the emerging leaders of this movement.’
This has become an extremely successful organization with a multimillion-dollar budget. It actively involves tens of thousands of religiously diverse young people in projects that are taking the message of religious pluralism to millions across six continents.”


Interfaith Youth Core at www.ifyc.org
Eboo Patel, Acts of Faith: the Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, Boston: Beacon Press, generally and at p. 61

© Eleanor Stoneham 2011 quoted from Healing this Wounded Earth: with Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope, O Books 2011

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