Religious Pluralism

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On July 12, 2007, for the first time in American history the Senate session that day was opened by a prayer; unlike any other prayer, it was given by a Hindu priest. At first sight, it would seem as though the ideals designed by the framers of the Constitution were alive and well; the pluralization of the United States of America, the land of freedom of religion, and the right to worship without persecution. However, the Christian right wing religious group Operation Save America entered the Senate floor and began to heckle Rajan Zed, the Hindu priest, perpetuating that Hinduism is an “abomination”, as Hindus do not worship “The lord Jesus Christ”. This leads us to ask the question: Is America a land of religious pluralism, or is it a land of “vociferous religious intolerance” (Amr, H. ¶ 1)?

Religious tolerance is being resigned to the fact that variety exists. Pluralism is the idea that this variety is healthy, and something to be celebrated (Hayes, R. pg. 1). When European colonists came to America to escape religious persecution, they inadvertently created their own religious intolerance by forming colonies and even state religions. They created theocracies in Massachusetts mixing religious and secular law. In Virginia, Georgia and Carolina the Church of England became the official religion of these states (Sullivan, T. pg. 346).

However, due to wave after wave of new immigrants arriving in America, these established religions began to break down until the Constitution of the United States, in order to guarantee separation of church and state, and freedom of religion, was amended (Sullivan, T. pg. 346). The United States today is considerably pluralistic, and we had taken great strides toward guaranteeing this religious diversity: Up until the attacks of 9-11, which changed the entire face of religious tolerance, coining the term “Islamophobia”. Because of 9-11, Arabs now face increased scrutiny from public officials, labor market...
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