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Why the US Must Maintain its Religious Tolerance



There are several core principles at the heart of a civilized and democratic society. Personal liberties such as the freedom of speech and choice of lifestyle are accepted as basic civil rights in the US and many western cultures, and allow citizens to develop and maintain individual values and thinking. Religious tolerance is another primary factor within any civilized society, as this allows different cultures and belief systems to co-exist within a single community without dispute or prejudice.
It is an idealism not without its issues. In today’s world, there is much trepidation and hostility between alternate religions, due in part to the existence of extreme religious bodies who have adapted a harsh and unforgiving interpretation to specific literature. This, in addition to the diverse nature of beliefs and values prevalent in different religions, make multiculturalism an awkward and potentially divisive concept. One of the significant dangers is that a culture or belief system may lose its unique identity and values when immersed in a mixed and varied community.
 

Resisting Religious and Cultural Intolerance
 Religious tolerance is something which separates civilized people and societies from bigoted and more dictatorial examples. While is inherent to US values, it is not prevalent in all faith or religious representation that exists in the contemporary world. Particular examples of extreme faiths have applied a rigid understanding to relevant text, creating an ethos that is not only intolerant to alternative faiths and beliefs but actually hostile towards them. These groups propagate the notion that belief systems that vary from their own are both immoral and opposed to clean living.

This animosity towards western culture and belief systems has been the suggested trigger to several violent atrocities, with the advent of September 11th being the most renowned and abhorrent to any civilized mindset. If we take the claims of the protagonists at face value, then the attacks were prompted by a deep rooted hatred and intolerance towards all aspects of liberal culture and religion. While this is not reflective of the majority of genuine religious faiths, it is still a worrying trend given the continual global shift towards multiculturalism.

While such extreme and unrepentant violence is extremely provocative, and has seen governments wage war on terrorists and acts of religious hatred, western culture must remain aware of other dangers that subsist within. The issue with violence that is propagated in the name of religious intolerance is that it creates deep suspicion and trepidation amongst other belief systems, and makes integration of these entities not only difficult but also potentially dangerous. It is crucial therefore that governments react to this, and reinforce their own values of religious tolerance and the coexistence of alternate belief systems.

Maintaining Identity in a Hostile Age

This battle between the identity of western culture and the effects of violent religious acts has been fought in the US on several occasions. Most recently, the proposed building of an Islamic centre in the heart of New York City drew fierce criticism from not only residents but also alternative faith groups. The latter was particularly surprising, as a leading Jewish Group renowned for tackling Anti-Semitism and intolerance made their objections and scepticism particularly ublic, lending their influential voice to the feelings of trepidation.\

Of all faiths and religious bodies, Judaism is the one that has been subjected to the most unforgivable persecution through ancient and modern history, and their attitude towards the building project was especially worrying in a hostile age. It is a clear example of a religious group losing sight of their core values through the advent of subjective experiences, and allowing its identity to be modified by the environment which envelops it. While this is understandable, it is a situation that creates a direct challenge to the concepts of world harmony and peace.

Enabling the Integration of Cultures

Fortunately, common sense prevailed and the group performed a u-turn to proclaim their support for the venture. With a vote due later this week in the city, their leader wrote a full and frank endorsement of the idea which urged government approval. This was a huge victory for religious tolerance in the US, and significant for two key reasons. Firstly, the portrayal of Islamic values is often distorted by a minority of extremists and their violent activity, and this should not restrict peace loving enthusiasts in their rights to worship. Secondary to this, it remains the duty of liberal western governments and religious groups to stay true to their values of tolerance and understanding, as these are the concepts that will enable integration between cultures and their people effectively.


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Navaid I. Syed is the owner and CEO of www.ExcitingAds.com / ExcitingAds! Inc. He is a medical doctor and was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan, on July 31, 1964. He graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan, in 1990. He is Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA, USA, certified.

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