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Religious Tolerance logo

Tolerance and cooperation


Cooperation and conflict motivated by
religious diversity in North America

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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:

bulletThe percentage of American and Canadian adults who identify themselves as Christians is dropping about 8 percentage points per decade.
bulletThose who do not follow any organized religion are increasing at about 6 percentage points per decade.
bulletThose identifying with non-Christian religions are taking up the slack.
bulletCirca 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:

bulletAbortion access; death penalty; widespread poverty; inadequate health care; coping with the increasing diversity of family types;
bulletThe traditional forms of bigotry, including religious hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia;
bulletThe roles of Christianity, the dominant religion, and of other religions within the culture
bulletand 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:

bulletThe 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:
bulletTraditionalists 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.
bulletThose 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), Chanukah (Jewish), Christmas (Christian and secular), Diwali, (Hindu), Festivus (secular), Id al-Adha (Muslim), 1 Kwanzaa (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)
bulletThose 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.
bulletThe 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.
bulletSome pro-choice advocates favor seeking common ground with pro-lifers to reduce abortion rates by preventing unwanted pregnancies.
bulletSenator 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.
bulletJim 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.
bulletKeith 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:

bulletNegative stuff:
bulletChristmas wars
bulletHouse resolution giving Christmas special status to the exclusion of other holy days
bulletTaking the Congressional oath of office: religious aspects
bulletPositive Stuff:
bulletJim Wallis calling for common effort in topics from abortion access to the environment
bulletIntra-Christian cooperation and ecumenicalism
bullet"Evangelicals and Catholics Together"
bullet"Christian Churches Together"
bulletLocal groups promoting interfaith dialogue

Related section:

bulletReligious outreach, apology, & cooperation: worldwide media reports

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References and notes:

  1. 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.

Site navigation:

 Home page > Religious tolerance > here

 Home page > Spirituality menu > Religious tolerance > here

Copyright © 2006 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2006-DEC-03
Latest update: 2008-AUG-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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