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What is
"religious pluralism"?

eboo with panel.jpeg

The Vision of Interfaith Engagement

Diversity is a fact, while pluralism is an aspiration. It takes a concerted effort to build bridges of understanding and cooperation across differences if we want diversity to be an asset.

Diversity means that we work alongside a Hindu who doesn’t eat meat. Pluralism means understanding why not, and reflecting on our own relationship to other animate creatures.


Diversity means that our child’s soccer team includes a Muslim teenager. Pluralism means knowing something about Ramadan and what it means for her life that month.


Diversity means that the night shelter where we volunteer serves neighbors from a variety of traditions. Pluralism means planning the menu, the space, and the time to enable their observance of those traditions.

Eboo Patel Lecture at Queens University: 
A Vision for Interfaith Engagement in Charlotte

Three Guiding Principles to Foster Pluralism

  1. Listen for understanding. We can foster a spirit of “appreciative inquiry,” which values another’s perspective and experience on her own terms.

  2. Find common ground. Notice shared values across your worldviews, and learn about how those values inspire your neighbors. 

  3. Recognize the gifts of difference. Consider how going deeper on difference helps you reflect on your own religious views and cooperate more effectively to strengthen our shared civic life.

The "Goods" of Civic Religious Pluralism

Choosing the path of religious pluralism benefits us at the personal, communal, and civic levels. At the personal level, those who choose the path of religious pluralism agree: learning deeply about others’ religious or secular worldviews sharpens their own understanding and commitments. When religious communities deliberate interact those outside their group, they nurture their own social cohesion and spiritual vitality. Finally, the ability to navigate religious difference in civic spaces from board rooms to hospital rooms helps create systems that honor all people on their own terms. And since religious communities are rich in social capital, their working together toward the common good fosters opportunity for all.

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