Interfaith Tolerance?


Aug. 12, 2009

We have been analyzing over the last few weeks the idea of "interfaith" tolerance and the idea that religions can build bridges between themselves. We don't want to discourage members of any "faith" from curbing their (sometimes violent) hostility towards others, but we have to say – we're pessimistic.

After all, Christians think Jesus is an incarnation of a divinity, whereas Muslims don't. In fact, Muslims think that claiming divinity for Jesus is a foul blasphemy. And Christians feel that denying the Holy Spirit is the ultimate blasphemy – which is something Buddhists do all the time.

So, how are these competing "faiths" going to live in the world together without wanting to kill each other? Well, let's take a little stroll through the papers this week and see how they're getting on.

The first paragraph of this story from the Indian Catholic reads: "Smoke was still rising from the Christian village of Korian in Punjab province on July 31 after it was completely destroyed in a violent raid the previous night by thousands of Muslims."

The headline over this story from the Daily News in Egypt reads: "Jews don't want an Arab or Muslim heading UNESCO"

Meanwhile, the dear old Church of England reveals that it needs a bit of interfaith dialogue – indeed intrafaith – dialogue itself, as it continues to rip itself apart over whether homosexuals should be welcomed or damned to hell.

Elements within the Catholic Church, meanwhile, revived the old hatred of Jews with this outburst from Bishop Bernard Fellay, "Superior General" of the wild and wacky right-wing group the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X.


(Terry Sanderson is the president of the National Secular Society (U.K.). He is also the editor of the weekly NSS Newsline, in which this article first appeared on June 26, 2009. This article is republished by permission of the NSS.)