Religious diversity across the nation discussed
THE SANTA CLARA
April 17, 2014
The variety of different beliefs across the globe has led to constant conflict between religious groups.
Eboo Patel spoke on campus Wednesday, April 10, about how to integrate the positive aspects of religious diversity into society today.
Patel, an interfaith leader and former member of President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, tackled the current problems with the existence of a variety of religions.
“Baghdad is diverse, and it is a quasi-civil war,” said Patel. “Bombay is diverse, and on a bad day, there is a bomb from one religious community attacking another religious community.”
He said that diversity means being in constant contact with people with whom you disagree, and religious differences in particular entails deep disagreement on fundamental matters.
Although diversity can play out like a civil war, it can also result in cooperation between groups.
Patel, inspired by his Muslim faith, Indian heritage and American citizenship aspires to help spread interfaith cooperation.
“People talk all the time about the metaphor of bridges between diverse individuals and communities,” Patel said, “but bridges don’t fall from the sky or arise from the ground. People build bridges. We build bridges.”
Rather than being defined by the existence of one social group like in the past, many societies around the world today are incredibly diverse.
Due to global interconnectedness, people of different ethnicities are required to interact more frequently today than ever before.
According to Patel, one of the biggest implications of diversity is the way that it has been shown to weaken social cohesion. Without social cohesion, negative forces can infiltrate a society.
“The more diversity there is in a city or neighborhood, the lower the rates of social (interaction),” Patel said. “We all like social cohesion and participation in community, as well as diversity, so what happens when we find out that these things are inversely correlated?”
In order to achieve cooperation between different religious groups, a society must transcend diversity and achieve pluralism. Diversity is when people who orient around different religious views live in the same area, while pluralism is what Patel advocates for America today.
“Pluralism has three parts: respect for the identities of different communities, relationships between those communities and a commitment to the common good,” Patel said. “There is no other world than a diverse world. There is no cave that you can return to where everybody is going to be a Catholic from the same village in Germany. When we achieve pluralism, it is the most inspiring thing on the planet.”
Contact Sophie Mattson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.
Correction: April 23, 2014
Eboo Patel was misrepresented as a current member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. Patel is no longer a member of the council.