Tolerance and cooperation
Cooperation and conflict motivated by
religious diversity in North America
Similarity vs. diversity; cooperation vs. conflict:
It is no secret that the U.S. is the most religiously diverse country in the
world. Southern Ontario, Canada, has been called the most religiously diverse
region within any country in the world. It is also no secret that many conflicts
exist in the U.S.
and Canada among persons holding
diverse religious beliefs.
Religious diversity appears to be increasing:
The percentage of American and Canadian adults
who identify themselves as Christians is dropping about 8 percentage
points per decade.
||Those who do not follow any organized religion are increasing at about 6
percentage points per decade.
||Those identifying with non-Christian religions are taking up the slack.
||Circa 2005, a majority of American adults started to identify themselves
as non-Protestants for the first time since
the nation was founded.
Conflicts will increase unless the religiously divided public finds effective
ways of working together to overcome the major challenges facing North Americans
in such areas as:
Abortion access; death
penalty; widespread poverty; inadequate health care; coping with the
increasing diversity of family types;
The traditional forms of bigotry, including
religious hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia
||The roles of Christianity, the dominant religion, and of other religions
within the culture
and many other conflicts.
The levels of cooperation and conflict among the
religious right, the secular left, the religious mainstream, and non-Christian
religions appears to be increasing.
Conflicts surfacing in late 2006:
We decided to create this section of our web site because of a number of incidents
surfacing during late 2006. Some showed movement towards compromise and joint efforts to
accommodate cultural change. Others showed retrenchment:
||The annual U.S. Christmas Wars
re-ignited. This involved three groups with the battle cries: "Merry
Christmas," "Happy holidays" and "Separation of church and
state." The conflict is among:|
||Traditionalists who want to retain December as a celebration of
Christmas, to the exclusion of all other religious and secular
celebrations at this time of year.
Those who value religious diversity and inclusiveness in the U.S.
who would like to see all religious and cultural end-of-year traditions
acknowledged, including: Bodhi Day (Buddhist),
Christmas (Christian and secular), Diwali,
(secular), Id al-Adha (Muslim),
(African-American), Winter Solstice (Atheism,
Native American and other Aboriginals),
Omisoka (Japanese), Saturnalia (Nova Romans), Shabe-Yalda (Iranian),
Yule (Wiccan and other
Neopagans), and Zartusht-no-diso (Zoroastrian)
Those worried about weakening of the wall of
separation between church and state. They are concerned about
recognition of solely Christian traditions by municipal, state, and
federal governments including public schools.
||The mid-term elections returned the Democrats to control of the
Congress. The main issue seems to have been disagreement over the protracted
war in Iraq, seen by many voters as a moral issue.|
||Some pro-choice advocates favor seeking common ground with pro-lifers to
reduce abortion rates by preventing unwanted pregnancies.|
Senator Barak Obama (D-il) was invited to deliver a paper at the second
annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church at the Saddleback Valley
Community Church in Lake Forest, CA. His presence generated intense
opposition among pro-life/anti-abortion groups because of his beliefs on an
unrelated topic: women's access to abortion.
||Jim Wallis, an evangelical Christian working in the area of social
justice, was invited to deliver the Democratic party's weekly radio
broadcast for 2006-DEC-02. He called for a new vision for America in which
Republicans and Democrats, social and religious conservatives and liberals
seek out common ground.|
||Keith Ellison, a Muslim, was elected to the House of Representatives.
Controversy erupted over his choice to be sworn in while holding a Qur'an --
the Muslim holy book.|
Topics covered in this section:
References and notes:
The date of Id al-Adha (a.k.a. the Feast of Sacrifice
or Day of Sacrifice) is determined by a lunar-based calendar. It thus
moves backwards by about eleven days each year. In 2008, it will be
celebrated in November. Al-Hijra/Muharram, the Muslim New
Year, will be celebrated in late December.
Copyright © 2006 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally posted: 2006-DEC-03
Latest update: 2008-AUG-10
Author: B.A. Robinson