Several Christian groups were founded in America during the Great Awakenings. The strength of various sects varies greatly in different regions of the country, with rural parts of the South having many evangelicals but very few Catholics except Louisiana and the Gulf Coastand from among the Hispanic community, both of which consist mainly of Catholicswhile urbanized areas of the north Atlantic states and Great Lakesas well as many industrial and mining towns, are heavily Catholic, though still quite mixed, especially due to the heavily Protestant African-American communities. American Jews and History of the Jews in the United States After Christianity, Judaism is the next largest religious affiliation in the US, though this identification is not necessarily indicative of religious beliefs or practices. A significant number of people identify themselves as American Jews on ethnic and cultural grounds, rather than religious ones.
The Pervasiveness of Religious Diversity Religious diversity exists in a striking way between religions that are theistic and those that are not.
For instance, the monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam agree that there is a sole God. Hinduism, by contrast, typically recognizes many gods and goddesses, although some varieties of Hinduism, which count these many deities as aspects of a single God, may be monotheistic.
Other strands of Hinduism are henotheistic, worshiping one deity but recognizing many others. Another striking difference between religions has to do with views of the human person.
However, significant, widespread diversity also exists within basic theistic systems. For example, within Christianity, believers differ significantly on the nature of God.
Some see God as all-controlling, others as self-limiting, and still others as incapable in principle of unilaterally controlling any aspect of reality. Some believe God to have infallible knowledge only of The diversity in the religion of christianity that has occurred or is occurring, others claim God also has knowledge of all that will actually occur, while those who believe God possesses middle knowledge add that God knows all that would actually occur in any possible context.
Muslims also differ significantly among themselves on these same divine attributes Aijaz And we find equally pervasive, significant intra-system diversity in Hinduism SharmaBuddhism BurtonJudaism Shatzand Chinese Religions Cheng And there is increasing awareness that the practical import of intra-theistic diversity is just as significant as is that of inter-theistic diversity.
In fact, as Dennis Potter points out, whether there are actually differing inter-theistic perspectives on a given issues often depends on which intra-theistic perspectives we are considering Potter Possible Responses to Religious Diversity One obvious response to religious diversity is to maintain that since there exists no divine reality—since the referent in all religious truth claims related to the divine is nonexistent—all such claims are false.
Another possible response, put forth by religious relativists, is that there is no one truth when considering mutually incompatible religious claims about reality; more than one of the conflicting sets of specific truth-claims can be correct Runzo— However, most current discussions of religious diversity presuppose a realist theory of truth—that there is a truth to the matter.
When the topic is approached in this way, philosophers normally center discussions of religious truth claims on three basic categories: For the purpose of our discussion, someone is a religious exclusivist with respect to a given issue when she believes the religious perspective of only one basic theistic system for instance, only one of the major world religions or only one of the variants within a basic theistic system for instance, within Islam to be the truth or at least closer to the truth than any other religious perspective on this issue.
Finally, someone is a religious pluralist with respect to a given issue when she claims not only as a non-exclusivist that no specific religious perspective is superior but also makes a positive claim about the truth of the matter. The nature of this claim depends on the type of issue in question.
If the issue is one on which there can be only one actual truth to the matter, but we have no objective means of determining exactly what that truth is—for example, the actual nature of God—to be a pluralist is to claim that the perspectives of more than one basic theistic system or variant thereof can justifiably be considered to reflect some aspect of this truth Byrne Religious Diversity and Epistemic Obligation No philosopher denies that the awareness of realization of seeming religious diversity sometimes does in fact have an impact on an exclusivist—from causing minor uneasiness to significantly reducing her level of confidence in the truth of certain beliefs to precipitating belief abandonment.
This is simply an empirical claim about psychological states and behaviors Alston—; Plantinga How should, though, an exclusivist coming to an awareness of religious diversity—the awareness that seemingly sincere, knowledgeable individuals differ with her on an issue of religious significance—respond to the reality of such diversity?
How should, for instance, the devout Buddhist or Hindu or Christian who comes to realize that others who seem as knowledgeable and devout hold incompatible religious perspectives respond?
Can an exclusivist justifiably disregard such diversity? If not, is the exclusivist under some obligation to attempt to resolve such epistemic conflicts—engage in belief assessment or reassessment with openness to possible revision? Or would it at least be a good idea for her to do so?
There are, of course, religious individuals and groups who believe it is inappropriate to subject religious beliefs to assessment of any sort. But few philosophers currently hold this position. Most maintain that the exclusivist has at least the right to assess her beliefs in the face of religious diversity.
There continues, however, to be significant debate on whether an exclusivist is under an obligation to engage in such belief assessment. And an individual, in this case a religious exclusivist, can only attempt to maximize truth or avoid error in the face of diverse claims, it is argued, if she attempts to resolve the conflict.
The contention here, it must be emphasized, is not that such resolution is always possible or that an exclusivist must necessarily give up her belief if no resolution is forthcoming.
Discussion concerning those issues is yet to come. For example, Alvin Plantinga acknowledges that if a proponent of a specific religious perspective has no reason to doubt that those with whom he disagrees really are on equal epistemic footing, then he is under a prima facie obligation to attempt to resolve the conflict.
However, Plantinga denies that the Christian exclusivist need ever acknowledge that he is facing true epistemic parity—need ever admit that he actually is differing with true epistemic peers. Therefore, since it cannot be demonstrated that Christian belief of this sort is very likely false, the Christian remains justified in maintaining that the proponents of other religious perspectives are not actually on equal epistemic footing.
And the same, Plantinga acknowledges, might well be true for exclusivists in other religious belief systems Plantinga Those siding with Plantinga argue in essence that unless an exclusivist must acknowledge on epistemic grounds that are or should be accepted by all rational people that those holding incompatible beliefs are actually on equal footing, the exclusivist can justifiably deny that this is so and thus need not engage in belief assessment Kim Those supporting obligatory belief assessment argue that it is the exclusivist who shoulders the burden of proof.
Unless it can be demonstrated on epistemic grounds that are or should be accepted by all rational people that proponents of the competing perspectives are not actually on equal epistemic footing, the exclusivist must consider his challenger on equal epistemic footing and is thus obligated to engage in belief assessment Basinger26—Apr 03, · Some efforts to measure religious diversity have attempted to take into account subgroups of the major religious traditions.
3 The main challenge in looking at religious diversity in this way is the serious data limitations for subgroups within religions other than Christianity. In the United States, diversity has generally been considered an asset. It is frequently cited by public figures as both a source of national pride and a worthy ambition.
It is an oft-stated goal. Religion in the United States is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices.
Various religious faiths have flourished within the United States. The largest religion, Christianity, has proportionately diminished since One of the principles of religious literacy is that all major religious traditions are characterized by great internal diversity.
This is true for Christianity, as well as for Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. In recent times, the word diversity has taken on the specific connotation of “variety of people within a group”—the differences among the people being racial, cultural, gender-based, etc.
Diversity was God’s idea. Even a cursory study of science reveals an amazing variety of plant and animal life. Theories of Religious Diversity Religious diversity is the fact that there are significant differences in religious belief and practice. It has always been recognized by people outside the smallest and most isolated communities.