An Effort to Foster Tolerance in Religion

For a guy who is only 35 and lives in a walk-up apartment, Eboo Patel has already racked up some impressive accomplishments.

A Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, he has four honorary degrees. His autobiography is required freshman reading on 11 college campuses. He runs a nonprofit organization ”” the Interfaith Youth Core ”” with 31 employees and a budget of $4 million. And he was tapped by the White House as a key architect of an initiative announced in April by President Obama.

Mr. Patel got there by identifying a sticky problem in American civic life and proposing a concrete solution. The problem? Increased religious diversity is causing increasing religious conflict. And too often, religious extremists are driving events

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture

3 comments on “An Effort to Foster Tolerance in Religion

  1. Jon says:

    I truly wish this initiative well. It could be a great thing. The absolutely crucial thing for it to do is to focus on a few things that could indeed unite these young people, namely (1) a love for serving the poor, hungry, lonely, sick and (2) practicing love and toleration (in the classical sense of John Locke) for people who have very different theological beliefs.

    What will kill it is if there is a third agenda which is to convince its interfaith members that they DON’T really have very different theological beliefs, or that such differences are ultimately trivial in the light of (1) and (2) above. I.e. all religions at heart say the same thing, we are all climbing different paths on the same mountain, etc.

    For this thing to really succeed, it needs to allow Muslims to remain fully Muslim, Presbyterians to remain fully Presbyterian, Roman Catholics to remain fully Roman Catholic, Hindus to remain fully Hindu and so on — with a full awareness of the deep difference in the claims and implications made by these theologies — and yet provide a place for them to work together and to become friends.

    It’s possible that this program is doing just this, which would be a good thing. The article doesn’t say. The biographical details they do share about the movement’s founder are not entirely encouraging: e.g. raising his kids with a mixture of the Lord’s Prayer and Islam, and his personal history of sampling Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, and the Dalai Lama.

  2. Br. Michael says:

    I see it as a utopian dream. We are talking about conflicting worldviews and mutually exclusive truth claims. It will fall apart the second someone actually takes a worldview seriously.

  3. Cranmerian says:

    I think that the Holy Father in his first book [i]Jesus of Nazareth[/i] in chapter 3 “The Kingdom of God” addresses the problem with movements such as this one. Benedict says the following, [blockquote] Therefore, it is claimed, we must now move toward “regnocentrism,” that is, toward the centrality of the Kingdom. This at last, we are told, is the heart of Jesus’ message, and it is also the right formula for finally harnessing mankind’s positive energies and directing them toward the world’s future. “Kingdom,” on this interpretation, is simply the name for a world governed by peace, justice, and the conservation of creation. It means no more than this. This “Kingdom” is said to be the goal of history that has to be attained. This is supposedly the real task for religions:to work for the coming of the “Kingdom.” They are of course perfectly free to preserve their traditions and live according to their respective identities as well, but they must bring their different identities to bear on the common task of building the “Kingdom,” a world, in other words, where peace, justice, and respect for creation are the dominant values. [/blockquote]
    That sounds a whole lot like “baptismal covenant” theology and the mantra for TEC today. The Pope goes on to say,
    [blockquote] This sounds good; it seems like a way of finally enabling the whole world to appropriate Jesus’ message, but without requiring missionary evangelization of other religions….But the main thing that leaps out is that God has disappeared; man is the only actor left on the stage. The respect for religious “traditions” claimed by this way of thinking is only apparent. The truth is that they are regarded as so many sets of customs, which people should be allowed to keep, even though they ultimately count for nothing. Faith and religions are now directed toward political goals….This post-Christian vision of faith and religion is disturbingly close to Jesus’ third temptation. [/blockquote] pp.53-55.