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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:

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

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

bullet 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:
bullet 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.
bullet 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), 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)
bullet 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.
bullet 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.
bullet Some pro-choice advocates favor seeking common ground with pro-lifers to reduce abortion rates by preventing unwanted pregnancies.
bullet 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.
bullet 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.
bullet 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:

bullet Negative stuff:
bullet Christmas wars
bullet House resolution giving Christmas special status to the exclusion of other holy days
bullet Taking the Congressional oath of office: religious aspects
bullet Positive Stuff:
bullet Jim Wallis calling for common effort in topics from abortion access to the environment
bullet Intra-Christian cooperation and ecumenicalism
bullet "Evangelicals and Catholics Together"
bullet "Christian Churches Together"
bullet Local groups promoting interfaith dialogue

Related section:

bullet Religious outreach, apology, & cooperation: worldwide media reports

Sponsored links:

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.

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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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