Religious Pluralism and Tolerance

Church and mosque next door to each other in Beirut, Lebanon.  Photo credit:  anjči | CC2.0, Wikimedia Commons


religious pluralism and tolerance

These resources explore ethical and moral problems

Messages and Essays on Religious Pluralism and Tolerance

Christian Faith, Not Secularism, as the Basis for Political Pluralism and Economic Progressivism A brief outline explaining from both biblical texts and early church precedent why Christian faith leads to a political posture of human rights without theocracy. There is a vision for relational obligations, and principled respect for other religions.

Why Question Atheism from a Political and Moral Perspective? A presentation on how the Enlightenment tradition gave birth to racist liberal democracies on the one hand, and Marxist communism/state-capitalism on the other.  The Enlightenment tried to dethrone Christian faith from political theory and the Christian church from political power.  Thus, the ideology of the individual and the nation-state went to these two extremes, colored by the presumption of cultural, intellectual, and spiritual superiority that Europeans had about themselves.

The Role of Jesus in Revolution and the Pursuit of Justice This is an evangelistic message that highlights the Christian-led and Christian-influenced non-violent resistance movements throughout the world in the 20th century.  They show the connections and spiritual vitality of Christian faith under empire or empire-like oppression.

Slavery in Christianity, Part 1:  Slavery in the Bible, Slavery Today (and ppt) and Slavery in Christianity, Part 2:  Abolitionism from the First to Fifteenth Century demonstrate that the Bible is against chattel slavery, and that Christian faith began to abolish slavery immediately, eventually formally abolishing it in northwestern and northern Europe by the 1300’s. This challenges the narrative that Christianity is ambiguous at best on slavery. Rather, Christianity is the only belief system that has generated abolitionist and anti-trafficking movements. See also Slavery in Islam: From the Seventh to Twenty First Century. This raises serious questions for both Muslims and also secularists who might want to argue that all belief systems can be tolerated on neutral, rational grounds.

The Problem of the Body for the Liberal Theory of Personhood: Your Body is Not Just Your Own A message from 1 Corinthians 6:18 - 20 highlighting how the individualistic view of human bodies does not account for relationality and relational obligations 

Romans 9 - 11, Predestination and Free Will, Hardening of Hearts, and Outreach to the Jewish Community (ppts)

Pluralism and Liberalism Over Secular Nationalism:  The Significance of Christianity's Tether to Judaism (TBD)

Why Islamic Shari'a Exposes the Secular Liberal as Without Foundation (TBD)

Cultural Relativism:  Why Western Countries Are Giving Up on Multi-Culturalism and Why Secular Liberalism Can't Help (TBD)

The Church Gave Us Human Rights and Civil Rights: Christianity and the Two Stages of Democratic Development (TBD)

The Limits of Tolerance, the Reality of Coercion, and the Fallacy of the Rational Mind (TBD)

Books and Articles on Religious Pluralism and Tolerance

Tertullian of Carthage, Letter to Scapula, Governor of Roman North Africa(211 - 213 AD), argues for freedom of religious conscience on Christian grounds

Ambrose of Milan, Letter 17, paragraph 7 (New Advent website) speaks to the Roman Emperor about not compelling worship against one's free will.  See also Ethan Gannaway, Saint Ambrose and Toleration (The Academy for the Study of Ambrose of Milan, Apr 4, 2013) makes helpful historical remarks concerning Ambrose, given the bishop's engagement with political events.  See also Lance Ralston, Ambrose (Communio Sanctorum, Mar 16, 2014) for a readable and short history on Ambrose's interactions with the Arian Christians and Emperor Theodosius.

Wikipedia, Council of Jews and Christians, a voluntary organization in Britain working against anti-Semitism

Wikipedia, Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens whose actions and advocacy saved thousands of Jews during WW2

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Amazon book, 1981, 1984, 2007)

John W. DeGruchy, Christianity and Democracy: A Theology for a Just World Order (Amazon book, 1987)

Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Amazon book, Mar 31, 1988)

Alasdair MacIntyre, Three Rival Forms of Moral Inquiry: Encyclopedia, Genealogy, and Tradition (Amazon book, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2012)

Paul Freston, Evangelicals and Politics in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Amazon book, 2001, 2003)

Charles Marsh, The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice from the Civil Rights Movement to Today (Amazon book, 2005)

Jean Bethke Elshtain, Toleration, Proselytizing, and the Politics of Recognition (selected sections, 2008)

Paul Freston, Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Latin America (Amazon book, 2008)

Terence O. Ranger, Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa (Amazon book, 2008)

David Halloran Lumsdaine, Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Asia (Amazon book, 2009)

Alasdair MacIntyre, God, Philosophy, University: A Selective History of the Catholic University (ch.17 onward) (Amazon book, 2009)

Michael J. Sandel, Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? (Amazon book, 2009)

Monica Toft, Daniel Philpott, Timothy Shah, God's Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics (Amazon book, Mar 14, 2011)

Michael J. Sandel, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets(Amazon book, 2012)

Gabe Lyons, The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America (Amazon book, 2010)

Ed Stetzer, Proselytizing in a Multi-Faith World (Christianity Today, Mar 28, 2011)

Robert Woodberry, The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy (American Political Science Review, May 2012)

Robert Chao Romero, Jesus for Revolutionaries (free pdf book, 2013)

Andrea Palpant Dilley, The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries (Christianity Today, Jan 8, 2014)

David Zahl, A Few Thoughts on Righteous Minds and Religious Tolerance (blog, Jul 11, 2014)

David Gelernter, Why Should a Jew Care Whether Christianity Lives or Dies? (First Things, Mar 24, 2015)

John Inazu, What to Expect After the Supreme Court's Marriage Decision (Christianity Today, Apr 28, 2015)

Russell Moore, Why the Church Should Neither Cave Nor Panic About Gay Marriage (Washington Post, Jun 26, 2015)

Denver Catholic, Court Rules Against Little Sisters of the Poor (Denver Catholic, Jul 14, 2015)

Ryan T. Anderson, Same-Sex Marriage and Heresy (First Things, Jul 16, 2015)

Unfundamentalist Christians, Your “Deeply Held Religious Belief” Isn’t Biblical (Patheos, Jul 17, 2015)

Marv Knox, Editorial: The Flaws in "Religious Liberty" Laws (Baptist Standard, Apr 4, 2016)

Thomas Kidd, The United States: A "Christian Nation"? (Patheos, Apr 5, 2016)

Beth Allison Barr, Did Medieval Christians Accommodate Paganism? (Patheos, Apr 6, 2016)

Amy Butler, When Religious Liberty Ceases to be Legitimate (Baptist News Global, Apr 19, 2016)

Andrew Doran, When Christianities Collide: Persecuted Churches of the East Need Dialogue With the West (The American Conservative, Jun 9, 2016)

Rod Dreher, Religious Liberty Includes Muslims Too (The American Conservative, Jun 15, 2016) clip of Russell Moore

Duane Liftin, Christians Don't Want to Stop Serving Their LGBT Neighbors (Christianity Today, Jul 13, 2016)

Peter Beinart, When Conservatives Oppose Religious Freedom (The Atlantic, Apr 11, 2017) Christian conservatives who defend Muslim rights have come under fire by their ideological brethren

Chris Baynes, More Than 200,000 Children Married in US Over the Last 15 Years (UK Independent, Jul 8, 2017) this is a conundrum for both the left and the right; why do some white evangelicals defend this practice in the name of religious liberty?  See Fraidy Reiss, Banning Why Can 12-Year-Olds Still Get Married in the United States? (Washington Post, Feb 10, 2017) and Joanne Sweeney, Banning Child Marriage in America: An Uphill Fight Against Evangelical Pressure (Salon, Mar 11, 2018) spotlights Kentucky.

Helpful Resources on Religious Pluralism

The Newseum Institute (website) on religious freedom

Wikipedia, Lyman Beecher, an example of racism and anti-Catholicism in the American Protestant nationalist tradition

Wikipedia, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

Vaclav Havel, "Politics, Morality, and Civility" from Summer Meditations (1993)

Stephen L. Carter, "Defending" Marriage: A Modest Proposal (Yale Law School, Jan 1, 1998)

Joel Brady, "Land Is Itself a Sacred, Living Being": Native American Sacred Site Protection on Federal Public Lands Amidst The Shadows of Bear Lodge (American Indian Law Review, 2000)

Chris Seiple, Alfred Stephan, Peter Awn, Democracy, Terrorism, and Religious Freedom (Veritas Forum video, Oct 2008)

Thomas Albert Howard, Protestant Theology and the Making of the Modern Germany University (pdf book, 2009)

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., Another Peaceful Solution: Proposition 8 and How Liberals Always Go Too Far (The American Spectator, Jun 17, 2010) argues for the state to do civil unions only

Chilton Williamson Jr., After Tocqueville: The Promise and Failure of Democracy (2013)

Pierre Manent, Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western Dynamic (2013)

David Batty, Archbishop of Canterbury Backs Sharia for British Muslims (Guardian, Feb 7, 2008)

Stuart Koehl, An Independent Witness to Marriage (First Things, Jul 16, 2010)

Gregory Jensen, Finding the Balance: Privacy and Civil Society (Acton Institute blog, July 21, 2010)

John M. Barry, God, Government and Roger Williams’ Big Idea (Smithsonian, Jan 2012) re: the separation of church and state

Christine Gross-Loh, Have American Parents Got it All Wrong? (Huffington Post, May 7, 2013)

Daniel J. Mahoney, Don't Despair of Democracy (The American Conservative, May 30, 2013) review of Chilton Williamson Jr., After Tocqueville: The Promise and Failure of Democracy

Politifact, Wedding Vendors Have Been Forced to Participate in Same-Sex Marriages Under Threat or Even Jail (Politifact, Jun 30, 2013)

Marshall Sahlins, China U.: Confucius Institutes Censor Political Discussions and Restrain the Free Exchange of Ideas (The Nation, Oct 29, 2013)

Amy Davidson, The Stakes in the Hobby Lobby Case (The New Yorker, Nov 27, 2013)

Daniel J. Mahoney, The Political Form of Freedom (The American Conservative, Dec 5, 2013) review of Pierre Manent, Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western Dynamic

Politifact, To comply with non-discrimination laws, the government is "forcing people in business to make wedding cakes" for anyone (Politifact, Dec 19, 2013)

Bari Weiss, Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues (Wall Street Journal, Dec 28, 2013) showing how gender still matters

Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (pdf book, 2014)

Joey Ayoub, What Did Palestine Look Like in 1896? (blog, Feb 11, 2014)

Steve Robinson, Bowdoin College to Christians: Get Lost! (The Maine Wire, Feb 17, 2014)

Emma Green, What's So Weird About a Conservative Atheist? (The Atlantic, Feb 26, 2014)

Michelle Goldberg, Columbia University Fired Two Eminent Public Intellectuals. Here's Why It Matters (The Nation, Mar 12, 2014)

Mark Silk, The Conservative Shift on Religious Liberty (Religion News Service, Mar 13, 2014)

Emily Bazelon, In Defense of Religious Liberty (Slate, Mar 14, 2014)

Rod Dreher, Religious Liberty and the Sacrament of Sexual Freedom (The American Conservative, Mar 17, 2014)

Ross Douthat, The Challenge of Pluralism (NY Times, Mar 19, 2014)

Naomi Lamoreaux and William Novak, Getting the History Right: Tracking the Real History of Corporate Rights in American Constitutional Thought (Slate, Mar 24, 2014)

Patrick Deneen, Even if Hobby Lobby Wins, We Lose (The American Conservative, Mar 25, 2014)

New Yorker Magazine, Out Loud: Malcolm Gladwell on the Limits of American Religious Tolerance (New Yorker Magazine, Mar 24, 2014)

Yuval Levin, Beneath the Religious Liberty Debates (National Review, Mar 28, 2014)

David Gushee, Do For Profit Corporations Have Religious Liberties? (American Baptist Press News, Apr 8, 2014)

Ross Douthat, Why Liberalism Needs Pluralism (NY Times, Apr 10, 2014)

Ross Douthat, Diversity and Dishonesty (NY Times, Apr 12, 2014)

Mark Joseph Stern, Religious Liberty Hypocrisy: North Carolina Forbids Churches from Performing Gay Weddings (Slate, Apr 28, 2014)

William Saletan, Kenya's Polygamy Problem (Slate, May 5, 2014)

Andrew Bostom, U.S. Sacrificing U.S. Citizen Toddler to Sharia in Sudan? (PJ Media, May 14, 2014)

Stephen L. Carter, Thanks for Not Disinviting Me (Bloomberg, May 15, 2014)

Stephen L. Carter, Smeared by Gay Rights Activists (Bloomberg View, Jun 5, 2014)

Michael Paulson, Colleges and Evangelicals Collide on Bias Policy (NY Times, Jun 9, 2014)

Lyle Deniston, Opinion Analysis: Does the New Religious Exemption Go Far Enough? (SCOTUS blog, Jun 30, 2014)

Jack Jenkins, Why the Hobby Lobby Decision Actually Hurts People of Faith (Think Progress, Jun 30, 2014)

Kim Bhasin, Christians Call Out Hobby Lobby for Hypocrisy (Huffington Post, Jul 1, 2014)

Richard Reich, Freedom, Power, and the Conservative Mind (Huffington Post, Jul 2, 2014)

Manny Schewitz, SC Restaurant Owner Refuses to Serve Blacks, Cites Religious Beliefs (Forward Progressives, Jul 2, 2014)

Adam Liptak, Birth Control Order Deepens Divide Among Justices (NY Times, Jul 3, 2014)

Evan Allen, Gordon College Leader Joins Request for Exemption to Hiring Rule (Boston Globe, Jul 4, 2014)

Scott Alexander, I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup (Slate Star Codex blog, Sep 30, 2014)

Yuval Levin, Taking the Long Way: Disciplines of the Soul Are the Basis of a Liberal Society (First Things, Oct 2014)

Rachel Lu, Why Liberalism is so Illiberal (Crisis Magazine, Oct 22, 2014)

Brandon O'Neill, Free Speech is So Last Century. Today's Students Want the Right to Be Comfortable (Spectator, Nov 22, 2014)

QPolitical, Seconds After He Says “Jesus Died For My Sins”, CNN Silences NFL Star In The Rudest Way Imaginable (QPolitical, Dec 1, 2014)

Luke Savage, New Atheism, Old Empire (Jacobin Magazine, Dec 2, 2014)

Elena Glassman, Neha Narula, and Jean Yang, MIT Computer Scientists Demonstrate the Hard Way That Gender Still Matters (Wired, Dec 19, 2014)

Amy R. Buckley, Why You Should Be a Christian Feminist (Relevant Magazine, Dec 31, 2014)

Institute for Canadian Values, Corporate Discrimination: No Christians Allowed (Canadian Values website)

Patrick Deneen, Classical Liberalism - Contemporary Voices (The American Conservative, Feb 5, 2015)

Rahel Gebreyes, The Unfortunate Consequences of Banning Sharia Law (Huffington Post, Mar 3, 2015)

Todd Starnes, San Francisco Demands Catholic Schools Stop Teaching Catholic Doctrine (Fox News, Mar 9, 2015)

Eboo Patel, In Promoting Campus Diversity, Don't Dismiss Religion (Chronicle of Higher Education, Mar 11, 2015)

Conor Friedersdorf, Gays, Traditionalists, and the Feeling of Being Under Siege (The Atlantic, Apr 6, 2015)

Lisa Miller, Why Kids Need Spirituality (NY Magazine, Apr 16, 2015)

Conor Friedersdorf, The Liberty to Feed the Poor (The Atlantic, Apr 21, 2015)

Dawn Stefanowicz, A Warning from Canada: Same-Sex Marriage Erodes Fundamental Rights (Witherspoon Institute, Apr 24, 2015)

Noah Millman, An Anthropological Approach to Gay Marriage (The American Conservative, Apr 30, 2015)

E.J. Dionne, A Senator's Faith and Humility (Washington Post, May 3, 2015)

T.J. Martinelli, Alabama Senate Passes Bill to Nullify All Sides on Marriage (Tenth Amendment Center blog, May 23, 2015)

Wikipedia, Same-Sex Marriage Under U.S. Tribal Jurisdictions (Wikipedia article)

K. Hollyn Hollman, Obergefell Decision Does Not Remove Separation Between Church and State (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Jun 26, 2015)

Rand Paul, Government Should Get Out of the Marriage Business Altogether (Time, Jun 28, 2015)

Mark Oppenheimer, Now's the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions (Time, Jun 28, 2015)

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Legalizing Gay Marriage in the Supreme Court (youtube video, Jul 2, 2015) argues for civil unions for all, marriage for none

Jonathan Turley, The Trouble With the 'Dignity' of Same Sex Marriages (Washington Post, Jul 2, 2015)

David R. Wheeler, Gay Marriage and the Future of Evangelical Colleges (The Atlantic, Jul 14, 2015)

The Onion, Parents Dedicate New College Safe Space In Honor Of Daughter Who Felt Weird In Class Once (The Onion, Jul 15, 2015)

Linda Greenhouse, A Religion Case Too Far for the Supreme Court? (NY Times, Jul 23, 2015)

Julia Ioffe, Putin is Down With Polygamy (Foreign Policy, Jul 24, 2015)

David Gushee, Why This Christian Says Christianity Is Harmed by Kim Davis and Her Fans (Religion News Service, Sep 4, 2015)

Rod Dreher, Law For Thee, But Not For Me (The American Conservative, Sep 4, 2015)

Renee K. Gadoua, MA Pastor Scott Lively Faces Possible Fine for Harsh Anti-Gay Efforts in Uganda (Religion News Service, Oct 1, 2015)

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, Why the Left Needs Religion (Dissent, Fall 2015)

Jacob Poushter, 40% of Millenials OK with Limiting Free Speech Offensive to Minorities (Pew Research, Nov 20, 2015)

Anthony Esolen, No Room for Sanity at the Inn: Stifling Democratic Debate Over Same-Sex Marriage (Witherspoon Institute, Dec 4, 2015)

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez and Bishop Charles E. Blake, Religious Freedom and the Future of America's Colleges (Angelus, Aug 2, 2016)

Melody Hahm, Uneasy Partners: Religion in the Workplace (Yahoo, Aug 14, 2016)

Chriss W. Street, California Court Declares It's Illegal for Pastors to Advise Minors About Gay, Transgender Feelings (Breitbart, Aug 23, 2016)

Anthony Berteaux, In the Safe Spaces on Campus, No Jews Allowed (Washington Post, Sep 15, 2016)

Keith Strahan, Marriage and the State: The Case for Privatization (The Liberty Conservative, Oct 6, 2016)

Celebrity Types, What the H*** is Happening in Western Democracies? Haidt's Analysis (Celebrity Types, Oct 13, 2016)

Jonathan Haidt, Socialism and Human Nature (Cato Institute, Oct 31, 2016) analysis of libertarians

Evan Lips, Massachusetts Pastor Cheer State's Decision to Drop Churches from Transgender Public Accommodations List (New Boston Post, Dec 15, 2016)

Tom Strode, Congrats, Frank Wolf: Obama Approves Expansion of International Religious Freedom Act (Christianity Today, Dec 16, 2016) and Michael Stone, Obama Signs New Law Giving Protection To Atheists (Patheos, Dec 19, 2016)

Mary Emily O'Hara, First Amendment Defense Act Would Be 'Devastating' for LGBTQ Americans (NBC News, Dec 21, 2016)

Emma Green, The Democrats Have a Religion Problem (The Atlantic, Dec 29, 2016)

Yonatan Zunger, Tolerance Is Not a Moral Precept (Extra Newsfeed, Jan 2, 2017) tolerance is a peace treaty, not a suicide pact where you tolerate the intolerant; nice historical narrative rooted in Catholic vs Protestant wars; a good rebuttal to the right's accusation that the left should tolerate intolerance

D.C. Schindler, Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty (Amazon book, Oct 18, 2017) tremendous social commentary of Western individualistic freedom by a Catholic philosopher

Rod Dreher, White, Male, Educated - and Christianophobic (The American Conservative, Nov 4, 2017)

Sean Illing, An Atheist Muslim on What the Left and the Right Get Wrong About Islam (Vox, Nov 17, 2017) "the left is wrong about Islam; the right is wrong about Muslims"

Robert McNamara and Paul Sherman, The Abortion Case That’s Really About the First Amendment (NY Times, Mar 20, 2018)

Curtis M. Wong, Teacher Says He Was Forced To Quit Over School’s Transgender Student Policy (Huffington Post, Jun 6, 2018)

Kathleen B. Jones, What the Nazis Taught Philosopher Hannah Arendt About the Rights of Refugees (Sojourners, Jul 17, 2018) explores the context of European ethno-national states as the challenge of post-Imperial Europe.

David French, Colorado Defies the Supreme Court, Renews Persecution of a Christian Baker (National Review, Aug 15, 2018) 

The Editors, The Persecution of the Uyghurs (National Review, Aug 24, 2018) re: China's treatment

Steve Warren, State Tells Christian Filmmakers: Make Same-Sex Marriage Films or Spend 90 Days in Jail (Christian Broadcasting Network, Oct 15, 2018) Christian wedding videographers' case

David French, As Religious Separation Increases, Religious Bigotry Will Abound (National Review, Jan 11, 2019) although I remain concerned about his lack of recognition that Christian faith requires restitution and reparations for past injustices

Augusto Zimmerman, Why is Facebook Censoring a Conference on Christianity and Religious Freedom? (Spectator Australia, Apr 9, 2019) perplexing given Facebook’s refusal to censor the doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which made her appear drunk or mentally impaired

Nazia Parveen, Birmingham School Stops LGBT Lessons After Parents Protest (The Guardian, Mar 4, 2019) re: Muslim parents 

Christian restorative justice critique of the left: domestic policy topics

Christian restorative justice critique of the left: philosophical influences