Tolerance and Truth in America Essay
The heritage of the United States of America is founded predominantly upon a belief in God. This is evident in the ancient laws which clearly integrated a lot of religious beliefs especially in matters concerning morality. The country’s currency, the dollar, bears the religious inscription “In God we trust”.
During the founding of the United States of America, the Catholic faith seemed to be the predominant religion in the country. This Christian faith was not necessarily imposed on anyone but was recognized as the true religion hence used as a basis for most of American moral law.
Over the centuries numerous faith denominations have emerged, each convinced that theirs is the true religion. The ongoing truth and tolerance debate in America arose as a result of the emerging religions and faiths that all believed and claimed to have the truth. Edward Kennedy, a believer in the Christian faith, strongly advocated for tolerance especially amongst Christians. He began his popular speech on truth and tolerance by confessing his faith in God and his belief in Jesus Christ.
He went on to admit that he did not presume that his religion and faith were not necessarily perfect. He acknowledged that irrespective of how much he believed in truth, no religion could claim a monopoly of it. He acknowledged that pluralism does not mean that all the religions are right, but it does mean that there are areas in which government should not decide what is wrong or right for the people to think or believe.
In cases of sensitive issues such as abortion, Kennedy considered it transgression for any religion to require the government to legislate on what the citizens ought to do with such personal parts of their lives. This, to him, was an act of intolerance for other religions and beliefs. He however had nothing against spreading one’s faith except that it is to be done through an appeal to individuals’ consciences and not through coercion of the power of State.
Therefore, tolerance does not require that religions and faith do not express their views but that no religion should impose its will on the State or on any governing body. In this way, the church and the State will be kept peacefully separate. The reasons for drawing this line included respect for the integrity of religion and the independent judgment of conscience.
According to Edward Kennedy, an example of intolerance had been the election period in 1976. Some people hinted that Jimmy Carter ought not to be elected president of the United States of America because he was a born again Christian. This, to him, was unacceptable because it is wrong to judge a person’s fitness to govern based on their religion or whom they worshiped.
This was a persuasive argument and made a lot of sense because every person had their own beliefs and values. Tolerance, therefore, would have the people not basing their judgment and credibility upon their religious beliefs.
In conclusion, it is essential to respect the motives of those who readily and openly disagree with the State and question the public’s integrity. Sometimes questioning each other’s integrity is a sign of looking out for each other and however much we are not obligated to agree with skeptics it is important to genuinely listen to them and consider their whatever point they are trying to put across. Scholars have argued that tolerance implies contentment with not knowing the truth.
When truth is made relative then its meaning is lost. It is important to respect and tolerate people with differing points of view and beliefs. This, however, should not deter citizens from earnestly seeking the truth even when it means being shaken out of their comfort zones which, in this case, may be the different religions.
Tolerance and Pluralism in a Civil Society Essay
Pluralism and tolerance is most common in a vibrant and cohesive civil society. Pluralism can be applied in various places such as religion and politics but no matter where it is applied the theme behind pluralism is to create evenness. In religion pluralism means that there is a balance or in other words evenness in all religion therefore all religions are viewed as even in terms of their quality in worship. This is because God is the overall father of all of mankind. The different names of God arise due to differences in language.
In ancient times religions that saw themselves as the only ones that worshipped the true God used to declare war against their neighbors in pursuit of making them convert to their religion. They did not see anything wrong in killing such people because they had a perception that God would award them for fighting for His name (Plaw 34).
All religions that are Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism among others explain that God created man in His image. There is no known scripture that states that only certain religion is appropriate. The only worship that’s not allowed by all religions is the worship of Satan or devil worship.
Erlewine argues that different religions have different forms of worship but all the same they are directed towards communicating with God (56). This implies that the ancient people didn’t know this and that’s why nations fought each other in the name of religion. Nowadays people have been enlightened and thus they see things differently except the primitive people who have been left behind.
By accepting each other regardless of our religions humans can be united as one community. For this unity to be realized there has to be respect of religions hence one should not despise somebody else’s religion. This recognition of diverse religions will foster peaceful co-existence.
When we realize that all our religions are even then we should tolerate each others religious practices. Whether one hates a religious ritual practiced by a given group there is no excuse for not accepting other peoples form of worship (Plaw 12). This is an important aspect of a well structured civil society.
This tolerance is extended to work places in some countries where employees of a given religion are allowed to practice their religious culture such as observing religious holidays i.e. Christmas day for Christians and Idul fitrr for Muslims. Tolerance does not refer to believing in teachings of other religions but it’s the respect accorded to all religions evenly.
Kristen argues that some people still treat others according to their religion and that’s why some governments have been accused of being biased in the way they treat people. Such governments are accused of labeling other religions as rebels (79). For instance Islam has been associated with terrorism in the recent past because of allegations concerning Osama Bin Laden because all members of alqaeda are Muslims.
These has tainted the name of Islam as a religion that enjoys killing other humans especially after the September eleventh attacks that saw many people die from terror attack. Anti-terrorism police units have been accused of arresting people of a certain religion which has been expressed as disrespect for their religion.
Religious teachings and practices should be appreciated as long as they don’t cause any harm because religion was invented to unite humans but not to spread hatred. Tolerance is achieved when we don’t agree with the views of each other but we allow other people to stick to their beliefs as long it does not affect our lives negatively. That’s why the constitution of most developed countries allows freedom of worship. Tolerance is directly related to liberation because it means we don’t judge other people by what they believe (Erlewine 123).
Even when it comes to other areas in life tolerance and pluralism is greatly recommended. Pluralism in the society dictates that all people are worth regardless of their social class, race, gender and age. Many are times when people despise a suggestion made by someone whom they feel can not give a valid opinion.
In most societies money and power commands respect thus people who don’t have such qualities are not appreciated. Pluralism should not be gauged by the material things that are owned by an individual. Opinions and decisions are not physically visible because they are derived from our hearts and brains.
Plaw explains that material things do not reflect somebody’s intelligence because wealth comes by chance and it may have been acquired through dishonest ways such as corruption (45). On the other hand poverty is not induced by lack of knowledge but it is caused by situations that fail to favor some people due to their background. In fact all people have the same ability. If the poor were to be given the same opportunity as the wealthy they would perform much better.
People should learn to accept others regardless of their situation because no body chooses to be poor. There are instances where certain people are given an exceptional treatment by the society because they are perceived to be more important than others. The driving force behind such treatment is the possibility of getting monetary handouts as a reward for making them skip the normal procedures of doing something.
For instance if a celebrity walked into a bank to make a withdrawal he is expected to follow the line and wait for his turn because if he is made to skip the line the customers of that bank will feel despised. Surprisingly enough there are people who demand to be treated differently in public places because of their social status. Such practices are not acceptable if we want to be in a civil society that promotes tolerance and pluralism.
Financial prosperity should not be used as an excuse to seek exceptional treatment. This feeling of unevenness makes others to feel offended because they feel they deserve equal opportunities. When we learn that we are all of the same worth regardless of our achievements that’s when we begin to appreciate our differences.
Humans should accept that our personalities are different and therefore one should be accepted for who he is because all of us can’t have the same achievements. This is because we all depend on each other in our daily lives thus no one can exist as an isolated island. Though one may have all the material things they will still need assistance from other people because money can’t buy everything (Kristen 56).
The dependency on each other is used to bind the society together. For instance the wealthy rely on the availability of manpower that is provided by the poor who are willing to do manual work in order to earn a living in executing their plots. The rich need somebody to attend to their gardens and laundry while on the other hand these odd jobs are a source of income to the poor thus the relationship between the two parties is based on mutual understanding.
Without the rich the poor can not survive and the rich also can not do without the poor because even the tallest skyscraper needs masons to dress the stones. It is also important to treat all jobs evenly because somebody’s profession is vital to one self.
This is because the society is built by all kinds of people because everyone has a role to play in the society (Plaw 15). Some jobs are despised because they are tedious hence everyone wants a white collar job. If all of us were to have similar jobs same possessions there is no doubt the world would be a living hell.
The reason why communities fight each other is because they have to tolerate each other. Most inter-community battles are based on ethnicity. Communities can coexist peacefully if only they accepted their differences. As mentioned earlier freedom is part and parcel of tolerance and freedom means the right to be wrong. Instead of fighting due to indifferences communities should aim at safeguarding the interests of each other.
The world can be a better place for all humans if only some people were not greedy and selfish as they are. The society can be united by sharing the little that is available to the benefit of all.
For instance, if Muslim followers established a community based school the enrolment of students should not be based on religion because the school is meant to be used by all people regardless of their religion. By allowing students who don’t believe in Islam the Muslim society implies that it tolerates the views of other religions.
Students who are not Muslims should not be forced to adopt Islam teachings unless they feel like doing so. And while they are there they should to practice the teachings of their respective religions. The argument here is that there is only one God but we worship Him differently and at different places of worship.
I have noted that most societies have accepted the views of each other gradually. For instance in African countries like Kenya and Nigeria where the population is made up of people from different religions, the majority of the population are Christians but they don’t discriminate their Muslim brothers.
Most fast food joints have a certification that is provided by the Muslim community to verify that the chicken served in that joint is halal meaning that it was slaughtered by a Muslim. This is because Muslims don’t eat chicken that is not halal because it’s against the teachings of Islam (Kristen 43).
In the above scenario the inhabitants of that country accept their differences in religion and they don’t go against the wishes of their counterparts but instead consider safeguarding their collective interest. Therefore, it is essential that a civil society should be vibrant and cohesive in order to promote tolerance and pluralism.
Erlewine, Robert. Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a religion of reason. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. Print.
Kristen, Johnson Theology, Political theory and Pluralism: Beyond tolerance and difference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.
Plaw, Avery. Frontiers of Diversity: explorations in contemporary pluralism. New York: Rodopi, 2005. Print.
Religious tolerance Essay
Religious tolerance is imperative in modern societies because it allows people with separate faiths, beliefs or values to coexist with one another. Acknowledgment of the validity of other people’s religions requires placing these different religions in their traditional contexts in order to understand them.
Furthermore, understanding the history of other cultures allows one to appreciate how similar experiences led to different conceptual systems. One must realize that people created their belief systems in order to make sense of their worlds or the chaos around them. Therefore, every religion is reflective of the culture and history of its followers.
In order to become religiously tolerant, one must familiarize oneself with the history of this religion. The Hindu pattern is again evidence of the fact that all religions are depictions of the experiences of the people involved and the conceptual systems that they deduced from them.
The Hindu religion has more than one holy text, more than one religious authority, several deities, theological systems and understandings of morality. Adherents of this religion are highly tolerant because of its henotheistic nature. Nonetheless, most followers still believe in one Supreme Being who manifests his powers through different divinities.
Central aspects of Hinduism include Vishnu (the preserver), Brahma (the creator) and Shiva (the destroyer). Belief in the cycle of life i.e. the Samsara is central to the teaching of these adherents. However, it is possible for one to achieve enlightenment and thus escape this cycle. Many assert that one’s present life stems from the consequences of one’s past life.
This religion has four major doctrines that include dharma (righteousness in religion), artha (economic success) and kama (sense gratification) and nivritti (renunciation of the world). The latter is achieved through renunciation of the world in a process called moksha. Mankind’s supreme’s goal is to reach moksha.
Therefore, moksha is a solution of samsara. It is derived from the Buddhist faith. Doctrines from the latter religion were crucial in resolving complications in this religion. All these concepts can be traced back to the history of the Hindu religion. By dissecting the experiences of the Hindu people, one can understand why they came to follow their present practices and this should foster religious tolerance among non Hindus (Esposito et al., 2002).
The Hindu religion began as far back as 4000 BCE in the Indus Valley. It began with the Indus valley culture, which was held by native Indians. Thereafter, some Aryan tribes from Central Asia and Europe entered India and introduced Vedism. Since their immigration was done slowly or in waves (according to recent scholarly discoveries), most natives easily took up the Aryan religious with ease. This explains how the latter religion started amalgamating different belief systems. The Vedic belief system underwent various changes between 900 and 500 BCE. At first, the religion began with an emphasis on sacrificial rites. Emphasis was on perfecting people’s performance of the rites. However with time, some intellectuals decided that focusing too much on the rites instead of the wisdom associated with them was wrong.
They were called the Upanishads, and they introduced the focus on total dissociation from society in order to reach ultimate spirituality. They challenged the original structures of the Vedic religion because the latter was highly organized around sacrifices and priestly rituals. The priests who performed these rites were called Brahmans. They represented the capacity of the human to possess divine power.
When the Upanishads introduced their concept of total detachment from society or moksha, the Brahmans felt that this would threaten the organization of their society. As a result, they proposed a middle way in which one could strive towards moksha but still maintain the social hierarchies in society. It should be noted that the priestly class of the Brahmans arose earlier on in the Vedic faith because of some fire rituals that the Vedic believers carried out.
These rituals yielded successful results and led to the belief that their priests had a superior status. The Upanishads wanted to internalize the ritualistic process, hence their shift to the individual. This belief in developing the spiritual self led to the acceptance of moksha as a solution towards the problem of cyclical life (Fallows, 1998).
Thus far, one can appreciate why Hinduism has a hierarchical system that places the priestly class above all others. This was a way of preserving order in their society. One can also appreciate why the religion appears to be polytheistic. The god of fire and other gods were manifestations of a supreme being. One can also comprehend why these adherents believe in moksha; it provides them with a mechanism for solving the problems of this life.
It also gives them something to aspire to or work towards. This small history, therefore, heightens religious tolerance because it places these belief systems in context and establishes the experiences that led to their development. Some of them were social (entry of the Aryans into the Hindu culture), others were intellectual (internalizing rituals) while others were economic (preservation of social order for material prosperity).
In China, some people practice Taoism, others Confucianism and others believe in Buddhism. Certain followers combine elements of all three faiths. The experiences of members of these cultures also provide important insights concerning the influence of people’s experiences in the development of their belief system. By placing those occurrences in context, one can then gain religious tolerance of adherents of these faiths even though one does not ascribe to any of them.
In Confucianism, most adherents believe that social harmony is the most important goal (Hopfe & Woodward, 2004). This school of thought was started by Confucius. He lived at a time when his society was struggling with the reinforcement of laws. Confucius thought about the ineffectiveness of coercive laws.
People simply followed them without really understanding them. This meant that the method was reactive rather than proactive. The intellectual proposed that if people internalized behaviors before acting, then they would act in an appropriate manner. In this regard, they would abide by their mutual obligations, and thus prevent the occurrence of disorder in that society.
Confucius, therefore, created the concept of mutual relationships and the need to respect one another. From this small history, one can understand why loyalty, etiquette and humanness are so important in the Confucian faith today. It was an attempt at creating social harmony by ensuring that everyone understood his place. Through education and personal effort, it was possible for people to become better.
In the Taoist school of thought, it is held that the ideal way of life is to accept things as they are. When one resists nature, then one actually causes things to get worse. It is in line with this thinking that Taoists believe in the Ying and Yang.
One represents the strong and hard force and the other represents the soft and feminine force. Therefore, by finding a balance between these forces in the universe, then calmness will prevail. The Taoist faith came after the Confucian school of thought. Confucianism taught about personal involvement and striving to become better.
However, subsequent intellectuals realized that they needed a new way of thinking that promoted greater peace and harmony. They lived at a time when there was too much active striving as seen in the warring era. Therefore, it was imperative to introduce the concept of yielding to nature. In this school of thought, it was argued that there was a force of life called Tao that flows everywhere.
One’s major goal was to be in harmony with the Tao. Through the use compassion, moderation and humiliation, one can develop important virtues. Most problems arise when one tries to fight or interfere with the Tao by acting in opposition to nature. One must strive to find answers within through meditation. The story of the emergence of Taoism demonstrates that experiences are crucial to the formation of one’s belief systems.
It was a response to the challenges of Confucianism and the social upheavals it had created. Too much active strive led to war in that community; this prompted an alternative way of thinking. Once again, one can become tolerant to this religion by realizing that it was a natural creation of the political and social problems of that time. Taoism complemented Confucianism in this society. In fact, many individuals abide by the principles of both these faiths.
They epitomize religious tolerance because they understand that belief systems carry a certain purpose in one’s society or one’s history. The same reasoning allows one to understand why Buddhism plays an important role in the Chinese society as well as many others in Asia. It is philosophical in nature and has generated minimal conflict with other faiths hence its acceptance (Keown, 1996).
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are the three main religions that have come to be associated with Abraham monotheism. A large part of Christian scriptures have been adopted from the Jewish faith. Similarly, many parts of the Islamic faith have stories or portions from the Jewish scriptures. In order to enhance religious tolerance, it is imperative to look at the history of the formation of these faiths in order to understand why their adherents hold the beliefs that they do.
Judaism is a religion in which people believe that they have a special relationship with God. This stems from the fact that they are a chosen people, having descended from Abraham. God gave them a gift of laws called the Torah to assist in maintaining their relationship with him and with one another.
The Jews have been misunderstood by many as a ritualistic and legalistic religion as seen through their scriptures, which are called Torah (interpreted as laws). In order to negate these misunderstandings, one must understand why the Jews called their scriptures the Torah.
The Jews think of themselves as God’s special people. It is believed that in order to promote harmony with God, they needed some guidance. Also, God needed to give them a commentary on how they could act towards one another; this was the reason why he gave them the guidance of the Torah.
Therefore, one can become tolerant of this religion by understanding the origin of their ritualistic practices. Judaism is also a religion that is highly diverse. The diversity stems from some cultural and theological experiences of members of this religion. Some individuals resettled along the Mediterranean or other parts of Europe and thus created their own version of the religion.
Conversely, some individuals understood the rituals and religious practices differently. These theological differences led to the birth of reconstructionists, reform Jews, Liberal Jews, Orthodox and Conservative Jews. Therefore, a cultural dissection of the Jewish religious system allows one to understand it. In this regard, one can accept adherents of the faith based on the premise that their history and their values led them to that place.
Christianity is the most predominant faith in the world today. In the US, most citizens associate themselves with some form of Christianity. It is still necessary to understand the development of Christianity in order to foster tolerance among the various sects if one happens to be a Christian or to build tolerance for non Christians.
The Christian faith began when Jesus of Nazareth was born in Jerusalem; a Jewish community. He was regarded as the incarnation of God as he was his son. This was seen through the fulfillment of prophecy as well as his life on earth – he performed miracles and did other divine things.
After he died and resurrected, the first Christian church officially began. Therefore, for non Christians, it is possible to understand why Christians focus on Jesus; they believe that he was God living amongst men. Furthermore, Christianity is monotheistic because having such a supreme being is the only consistent way to understand what their Holy Scriptures say about nature and the universe.
Religious tolerance can be effectively promoted when one understands the experiences and the history of the people who abide by them. Hindu-Buddhism, Chinese religions and Abraham Monotheism all emanated from a series of events or encounters that shaped those faith systems.
Some issues were political such as the warring states in China and Taoism; others were social such as the need to stick to certain social structures as in Hinduism. In essence different experiences led to different conceptual frameworks hence religions. It is this statement that makes religious tolerance possible.
Esposito, J. Fasching, D. and Lewis, T. (2002). World Religions Today. Oxford: OUP
Fallows, W. (1998). Religions East and West. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Publishers
Hopfe, M. & Woodward, R. (2004). Religions of the World. London: Pearson-Prentice hall
Keown, D. (1996). Buddhism: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University press
Religious Tolerance Essay
In spite of the constant existence of religious fanaticism and prejudice experienced in most parts of the word, there has been a notable growth in religious tolerance.
The view that diverse religions as well as spiritual customs have a suitable approach has recently become more prevalent. In the contemporary world, religion is continually being characterized by the adherence of one true religion. In the past, some religions were viewed with a lot of contempt and were usually seen as forms of myths or superstitions.
This notwithstanding, the concept of religious harmony is progressively being embraced by many nations which adhere to many religions. This essay presents an outlook of some of the major religions practiced throughout the world and the extent to which they have contributed to religious tolerance. These religions include, Hindu-Buddhist, Chinese Religion as well as Abrahamic monotheism.
In order to indicate religious tolerance, some aspects of Buddhism have been incorporated in Hinduism. For instance, in Hinduism, Buddha is usually seen as an Avatar of Vishnu. As recorded by the Puranic text Bhagavata Purana, among the twenty-five avatars, Buddha is the twenty-fourth avatar predicting an impending incarnation.
Moreover, the majority of Hindu customs describe Buddha as the latest among the ten principal avatars that are identified as the Daśāvatāra, which means the Ten Incarnations of God (Fernandez, 2010). However, Buddha’s traditions are said to oppose the authority of the Vedas as a result of which Buddhism is regarded as heterodox school. Owing to the variety of teachings within Hinduism, there is no definite perspective or agreement on the Buddha’s precise position with regards to the Vedic tradition.
The position of the Buddha as the avatar who principally endorsed non-violence continues to be an accepted conviction in several contemporary Vaishnava organizations which include ISKCON (Stietencron, 2005). Moreover, other outstanding contemporary proponents of Hinduism, who include Vivekananda as well as Radhakrishnan, regard Buddha as an instructor of an unchanged universal truth that triggers all other religions represented in the world.
According to these proponents, Hinduism is distinctively valuable as it recognizes the fact that all religions are one. The Vaishnava sect of Maharashtra, identified as Varkari, adores Lord Vithoba. Despite the fact that Vithoba is generally viewed as form of little Krishna, for several years, there have been a strong conviction that Vithoba is a form of Buddha.
This has been echoed by several poets of the Maharashtra such as Tukaram and Eknath who have clearly referred to him as Buddha. The representation of Vithoba as an avatar of Vishnu has mostly been associated with Buddha in an effort to incorporate Buddhism within the Hindu customs.
Traditions of Buddha have also been uniquely integrated in Varkari Vaishnavism as well as the conventional Vedic values. In an attempt to explore the contemporary Hindu opinion on Buddhism, it is important to consider the question of whether, or to what extent, Buddhism is a component of Hinduism.
Even though the integrity of Hinduism, cannot be weakened in case all the exclusively Buddhist elements were left out, some Hinduism details would definitely be insufficiently elaborated or less emphasized. In most cases, the Buddhist fundamentals do not differ from the Atmanists, even though they represent a more elaborate statement of the law of causality as the indispensable mark of the world of Becoming (Stietencron, 2005).
The Chinese Religion
China is a country that is usually known for its widespread diversity in religious beliefs. The major religions in China include Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism as well as Catholicism. According to the Chinese constitution, the citizens of the country are allowed to choose and express their religious values and affiliations freely.
According to recent research, there are approximately 100 million followers that adhere to a variety of religious faiths, at least 85,000 sites where religious functions can be held, around 300,000 clergy and more than 3,000 religious organizations in China (Fernandez, 2010). Furthermore, China has at least 76 religious schools as well as colleges which are mainly run by religious organizations guiding the clerics.
In China, Buddhism records a history of about 2,000 years. Today, the country holds 13,000 Buddhist temples which contain at least 200,000 Buddhist monks and nuns. In addition, China has about 3,000 Tibetan Buddhism temples and almost 10,000 Bhiksu and senior nuns, and not less than 1,600 temples of Pali Buddhism.
On the other hand, Taoism, is native to China, and records a history of not less than 1,700 years. Currently, the country has about 1,600 Taoist temples and not less than 25,000 Taoist monks as well as clerics. Conversely, Islam and Catholicism came into China during the seventh century.
Currently, China has at least ten national minorities, 18 million of whom come from Hui and Uygur, who mainly conform to the Islamic faith. China has a minimum of 30,000 mosques which are mainly directed by 40,000 Akhunds and Imams. On the other hand, Catholicism did not spread widely until after the Opium War in 1840.
Today, China has a minimum of four million Catholics, led by 4,000 clergy. However, Protestantism was introduced in China at the beginning of the 19th century. The religion only spread widely after the Opium War. At present, China has at least 10 million Protestants, 18,000 clergy and 12,000 protestant churches.
Furthermore, China has several religious organizations which include; Taoist Association of China, Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Buddhist Association of China, Islamic Association of China, China Christian Council, Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China and Chinese Catholic Bishops’ College. In China, the religious leaders as well as the leading bodies in most religious organizations are often ordained with regards to their distinctive set of laws.
In China, all the major religious activities are mainly held at designated sites or in believers’ homes in harmony with the normal religious customs such as the worship of Buddha, church going, rehearsing scriptures, praying, observing Mass, baptizing followers, monkhood instigation, fasting, commemorating religious festivals among others. In China, all these activities are protected by the Chinese constitution, the dealings of religious bodies as well as the believers and hence are not liable to be interfered with.
This notwithstanding, the 1976 Cultural Revolution in China had a devastating outcome especially on the aspect of religion. However, in an attempt to correct the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government made great efforts to revitalize and execute the policy of freedom of worship.
It also rectified the unfair and false cases which had been imposed on religious personages, and revived several sites for religious activities. As a matter of fact, since 1980, above 600 Protestant churches are built annually. Moreover, by 1996 at least 18 million Bibles had been produced. This was achieved through some special tax exception treatment which hastened the publication.
In addition, at least 8.5 million hymn books have already been dispensed. Furthermore, between 1958 and 1995 128 Catholic bishops had been ordained by the Chinese Catholic church. During this period, at least 900 young Catholic priests have been teaches and persuades the religious leaders to unite all religious believers in order to dynamically contribute to the development of the country. The religious believers in China have developed a habit of loving their nation and respecting other religions.
All the different religions in China embark in serving the society and supporting the citizen’s interests. This can be seen in instances where the Buddhists engage in activities that honor the country and assist the citizens, the Catholics and Protestants worship God and support the people, the Taoists undertake compassionate, diplomatic and harmonious activities, saving the people and the Islam’s pray to Allah to reward this world at present and in future. All the Chinese religions have equivalent status and co-exist in harmony.
As a matter of fact, religious disagreements are rare in China. A big percentage of religious followers as well as the non-believers acknowledge and revere each other. For these reasons, the religions in China indicate the influence of Chinese compatibility and religious tolerance, and the implementation of the right of religious belief. China has set up a politico-religious relationship that matches to the country’s national conditions.
The term monotheism originates from the Greek term ‘monos’, which signifies one and ‘theos’, representing god. Therefore, monotheism can be described as a belief in the existence of one god. Since monotheism is based on the notion that only one god exists, those who conform to monotheism also believe that this god formed all that exists in the world and is thus entirely independent. This is what is presented in Abrahamic monotheism which comprises Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism (Fernandez, 2010).
With regards to Islam, God is represented as undifferentiated, everlasting, incomparable and not by any means anthropomorphic. However, several of these monotheistic religions are often limited in nature. They not only believe in one god but also rebuff the existence of the gods of any religious denominations. At times, the followers of monotheistic religions view other alleged gods as elements or manifestations of their single utmost god.
However, this is rare and mainly happens when shifting from polytheism to monotheism, when explaining why other gods should be done away with. In view of Christianity, God is represented as being anthropomorphic as he is signified by three persons in one. For this reasons, monotheistic religions worship different types of gods. The main thing that they have in common is the focus on a distinct god. Abrahamic Monotheism has its source from Abraham who was Jewish.
According to the biblical book of Genesis, Abraham, together with his household, obeyed the instructions of their God whom they referred to as Yahweh. Abraham’s people developed into the people of Israel who produced Judaism, the initial monotheistic religion, and only prayed to Yahweh their god.
This was during the second millennium B.C. Later, in the first millennium CE both Christianity and Islam based their teachings upon Judaism and came up with novel religions that worshiped this god. As it expanded, Christianity spread to several parts of the world. It was mainly established around the Mediterranean Sea and then spread to Europe and into other continents in the mid-second millennium CE, during the era of colonization.
Today, Christianity has become widespread especially in North America and southern America, Australia and in some parts of Africa. On the other hand, Islam rapidly spread into the Middle East and the northern half of Africa, from where it headed eastwards, colonizing the Indian sub-continent and spread into Indonesia and Malaysia which currently composes the most crowded Muslim nation.
Currently, Christianity contains approximately one third of the world’s population, which is about 2.3 billion people. On the other hand, Islam follows with approximately one quarter of the world’s population, which comprises around1.8 billion followers. The third largest religion is Hinduism which emanated from India. The nation has approximately one billion followers which is about 14 percent of the world’s population.
The majority of Buddhists reside in Asia, and their population ranges from 300 to 350 million followers. As a result of the exclusivity that characterize monotheistic religions, they have been seen to display less religious tolerance as compared to polytheistic religions such as Hindu-Buddhist which has managed to integrate the gods and values of other denominations with relative ease. Abrahamic monotheism can only achieve this without admitting it and while refuting any authenticity or legitimacy to others’ faiths.
In conclusion, it is clear that Abrahamic monotheism comprise the largest religions in the world. Religious tolerance in these religions is limited as they are characterized by little unity as both Islam and Christianity are highly wary of each other.
Most religious groups under Abrahamic monotheism scarcely, acknowledge that they are members of the same religious body. For these reasons, Abrahamic monotheism contains several, wrangling members. On the other hand, the Chinese religions indicate more compatibility and religious tolerance which is seen through the mutual religious relationship that exists in the country.
Moreover, Hinduism and Buddhism represent immense religious tolerance as they are seen to incorporate aspects of each other’s beliefs. However, governments and religious leaders should endeavor to revitalize and execute the policies of freedom of worship and thus promote religious tolerance.
Fernandez, F. (2011). World: Brief history. New York: Prentice Hall, Inc.
Stietencron, H. (2005). Hindu myth: Hindu history. New York: Prentice Hall.
Abrahamic, East Asian and South Asian Religions and Concept of Religious Tolerance Compare and Contrast Essay
While there is no particular unequivocal commandment in the holy books that states ‘thou shall not permit intolerance’, it is without doubt that religious tolerance on values, truth and beliefs is yet to be realized since it is the nature of religions to compete. Studies indicate that the capacity religions have been massively affected by competition, religious condemnations and conflicts.
Carlos argues that religious tolerance is an important component that encompasses a moral reason by a particular religion to practice restraint from making counterproductive utterances or interfering with the affairs of other religions (777).
Different religions have diverse sets of beliefs and practices. This has bred lack of tolerance. It is from this consideration that this paper provides an in-depth analysis of Abrahamic, East Asian and South Asian religions with regards to the concept of religious tolerance.
A brief analysis of the concept of religious tolerance
Perhaps, Costa was correct when he indicated that a society will never be successful until it addresses fully the problem of religious tolerance among different religions (322). Religious differences in terms of practices and beliefs have been major causes of conflicts and religious disagreements in countries like Bosnia, Beirut and Belfast for many years.
Of critical importance is the distressing issue of terrorism by Al Qaeda that has projected wars on a global scale. It is indeed true that religious tolerance and the problem of religious diversity present a major danger to individuals, societies and the world at large.
This springs from certain religions which view themselves as better and more advanced than others (323). Owing to this peculiar alignment, these religions develop specific standards that are mostly used to define them from others and use it as the main platform for judging others. At this point, analysts tend to wonder why a religious group would disregard others and holistically undermine the need for diversity.
Theologians and philosophers almost unanimously agree that religious diversity and tolerance present a challenging problem that poses epistemological challenges. The major world religions such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism have different belief systems which make them unique. This presents major challenges as addressed below.
Abrahanmic religions as Neal posits is a group of monotheistic faith whose beginning can be traced from Abraham and which emphasizes spiritual practices of Abraham (497). Some of the Abrahamic religions include Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The latter believe that religious practices and beliefs sprang from Abraham’s grandson named Jacob. It views God in a strictly unitary manner and prefers the Hebrew Bible.
On the other hand, Christianity evolved into a religion from Judaism with its own set of practices and beliefs. Christianity as a religion is considered to be a belief system based on the life and teachings of Jesus. These teachings found in the Bible show God’s saving plan for humanity through Jesus Christ.
In this belief system, Christians are also made to believe that demons and angels exist and that they (Christians) are partners with God in accomplishing God’s purposes. Finally, Islam is a religion which as formed in the 7th century BC in Arabia (Carlos 777). Its adherents who are the Muslims, believe in the ultimate authority, teachings and practices of the Quran ad Muhammad.
While Abrahamic religions share certain similarities like monotheistic believes and a regard of God as the supreme source of moral law, it is without uncertainty that they exhibit different fundamental doctrines, beliefs and practices through which they can mobilize philosophical arguments.
For instance, Christian practices and beliefs such as mystical virtuosi and mundane experiences differ with that of Islam which does not believe in the Holy Spirit, a consideration which each religion justifies from its source of moral law.
Besides, Christian practices of forced conversion such as those practiced by the Roman Catholic Church goes against the practices of other religions and do not only offend human dignity, but also pollute the religion (Schmidt-Leukel 379). Muslims believe in proselytizing their religion and forcefully spread it to an extent of killing those who reject their faith through holy wars (Husin, Malek and Gapor 113).
Judaism unlike Christianity rejects explicit missionaries and believes that righteousness comes from adhering to Noahide laws (Husin, Malek and Gapor 113).These differences among others present vexing challenges to tolerance and pitch one religion as an unvanquished rival to the rest.
East Asian and South Asian religions
East Asian religions are a group of religions considered to be distinct religions families forming the subset of Eastern religions. Some of the religions in this group as indicated by Schmidt-Leukel include Chinese, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Chongdogyo, Chen Tao, Shinto, Caodaism and Taoism (379). It is imperative to point out that their philosophies, practices and concepts are based on Tao.
Studies reveal that while the East Asian Religious practices differ with those of major religious groups, they bear some semblance with those of the Indian religions and Abrahamic religions. Even so, Costa argues that this does not mean that members of the Abrahamic religion tolerate East Asian religions as they exhibit major peculiarities (323).
One of them is their non-theistic or polytheistic nature with other varieties like agnostic, panestheistic and henostheistic in Asia and abroad. While most of the East Asian religions find their tolerance of each other on Tao, other religions find it difficult to embrace and tolerate their practice such as emptiness, relativism and spontaneity in Taoism and belief in animistic spirits in Confucianism.
On the other hand, South Asian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism have been considered by many analysts as dynamic and vibrant religious faith in the world today due to the fusion of non-Verdict Shramana traditions of native south Asia with the verdict religion of Indo-Aryan.
An analysis of religious tolerance
The ability of religions or adherents of different religions to display tolerance despite their diversity in practices and beliefs is one of the key platforms towards greater cooperation, adherence, holistic contribution by all and eventual growth and development of a society.
Minimizing religious conflicts has been considered by Quinn as a main principle that could facilitate a new outline towards a highly united society at the local and national level (136).
In agreement, Quinn’s indication that addressing problems affecting religious tolerance requires a holistic involvement at all levels in world religions appears to cohere with that of Schmidt-Leukel who indicates that it is the dark cloud of religious wars that has over the years suppressed the ability of the individuals and the society to progress (379).
One such difference as already indicated in the paper is the practice by Christians of forceful conversion and the Jihad of Muslims or their forceful spread of Islamic beliefs. However, analysts appear divided over the actual methods that could be employed in addressing the problem.
Up to date, most religions that do not share beliefs and practices have failed to tolerate each other and instead referred to others as alien and their practices as ridiculous. Take for instance the perspective held by Christian that they are the religion that is closer to the truth than others (Husin, Malek and Gapor 113).
This not only creates the notion of competition and pride, but sets other religions as inferior. The Muslims on the other hand, are persuaded by their belief to slay unbelievers through acts of war, a consideration that makes other religions to recoil with horror. This has led to religious discrimination mostly witnesses between Christians and Muslims.
As if that is not enough, Quinn pillories that the trial to infer balance and tolerance between one religion and another has remained a hard nut to crack (137).
However, it is the resilience of wars between religious facts that has remained a thorn in the fresh for long. In the Middle East, Husin, Malek and Gapor indicate that both Muslims and Christian consider themselves be superior and therefore invoke major conflicts in the region (112).
Further on religion, Quinn accuses the followers advocating water while they take wine by failing to adhere to doctrines of brotherliness and care for others as advocated for by Christ, Gautama and Mohammed in Islam (139).
From the discussion, it is clear that different religions have various practices and beliefs that govern them. These differences have largely contributed towards the challenge of religious tolerance since each religion seems to idealize its practice and regard others as inferior.
There is need for religions to desist from condemning and criticizing practices and belief systems held by others. Instead, there is need to cultivate respect, understanding and tolerance.
Carlos, Valderrama Adrians. “Tolerance and religious freedom: the struggle in Peru to tolerate multiple cultures in light of principles of religious freedom.” Brigham Young University Law Review 2007.3 (2007): 775-790. Print.
Costa, Gustavo. “John Locke, Toleration and early enlightenment culture: religious intolerance and arguments for religious tolerance in early modern and ‘early enlightenment’ Europe.” Renaissance Quarterly 60.1 (2007): 322-3223. Print.
Husin Azrina, Nor Malina Malek and Salfarina, Abdul Gapor. “Cultural and religious tolerance and acceptance in urban housing: a study of multi-ethnic Malaysia.” Asian Social Science 8.2 (2012): 112-118. Print.
Neal, Lynn. “The first prejudice: religious tolerance and intolerance in early America.” Journal of Church and State 53.3 (2011): 497-499. Print.
Quinn, Philip L. “On religious diversity & tolerance.” Daedalus 134.1 (2005): 136-139. Print.
Schmidt-Leukel, Perry. “Beyond tolerance: towards a new step in inter-religious relationships.” Scottish Journal of Theology 55.4 (2002): 379-391. Print.
Show Boat: Encouraging Tolerance Rhetorical Essay
Show Boat refers to the 1927 musical with basically two acts. There is music with Jerome Kern, book as well as lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein.1 Indeed, Oscar Hammerstein’s satirical applications within the musical play Show Boat remains a historical landmark in the entertainment industry. It equally depicts and promotes the aspects of tolerance. Drawn from Edna Ferber’s legend novel with a similar name, this musical piece follows the lives of performers as well as stagehands.
Moreover, it also follows the lives of the dock workers of the Cotton Blossom. Cotton Blossom refers to the Mississippi River show boat that existed for approximately a period of five decades. This was roughly from 1880 to 1927. A critical analysis of the musical play reveals very important prevailing themes such as racial discrimination as well as tragic, enduring love.
It is generally evident that the arrival of this musical play stirred the American musical community and has since remained remarkably recognized for its theatrical and satirical meanings with respect to tolerance.
Even presently, there still remains a great interest in the analysis of this Oscar’s great master piece and its general relation to the normal life situation. This essay thus discusses how Oscar Hammerstein idealized and encouraged tolerance through the application of satire theatrically with his musical play, Show Boat.
The Oscar Hammerstein’s Musical Play Show Boat
From the analysis of the major themes of the musical play, it can be noted that Oscar Hammerstein satirically conveyed critical information regarding racial discrimination and tragic enduring love.2 Throughout the musical play, one realizes that Oscar tries to convey a message of survivorship and toil throughout one’s life. This, despite the racial prejudice issues amongst the population, is working aboard the Show Boat.
Indeed, the arrival of this musical play shed more light and became a watershed moment for most artistes within the same industry. Relative to other seemingly trivial and impracticable artistic works and presentations at that time, the Show Boat remained a drastic departure within musical story-telling, combining spectacle with seriousness. Perhaps, its satirical presentation provided the chance for analysts to note its uniqueness from other previously existing musical plays during that moment.
The full integration of song, humor as well production numbers to a solitary and inextricable artistic piece provided a hidden message of tolerance and motivation to the normal man. Particularly to the dock workers, this musical play provided a source of inspiration and encouragement making them strives to accomplish their tasks despite the hardships they were undergoing. Some notable discrimination included those based on racial prejudice.
The ability of the musical play to motivate persons heartbroken and enhance their tolerance in daily life situations was also critical. Ideally, there is an observation that Hammerstein crafted this musical piece following a long time of observation and experience with the Show Boat. The quality of this musical play remained clear and outstanding even to the eyes of the potential critics. This vibrantly communicated the un ending message of striving to success and tolerance to success for the larlgey deprived and undermined within the society.
The quality of the musical play vibrantly relayed a strong message of inspiration to the listeners. Unlike most musical plays, Show Boat seemed sentimental as well as tragic. Through this, the musical play managed to manipulate and touch people’s hearts with a sense of passion for tolerance even amidst hard times or moments.
Its most unique feature as the first real American musical play was the ability to satirically convey messages against racial prejudice. This is a striking characteristic of the musical play that reached several hearts, particularly those who were racially discriminated during those periods. The general message here was to tolerate one another despite people’s differences.
There is perhaps a lot to learn from the analysis of the plot synopsis of the musical play itself. It is seen that this story starts 47 years earlier, starting aboard a show boat, Cotton Blossom as it purposes to arrive as the river dock of the Mississippi.3 The period indicated here itself depicts a long time that can only be achieved by tolerant and patient people. It is clear how the boat is set to take a long period with people aboard.
Indeed, through presented satirically, it is notable that the 47 years on board requires a potentially tolerable person. Oscar Hammerstein’s selection of the Show Boat and the Mississippi river satirically represents the hard working environment that the dockers usually underwent during their voyages. It represents the tough environment that must be overtaken and empowered by all the workers aboard.
The musical notes themselves provide a sentimental and soothing feeling to the listeners or audience. They become encouraged by the prevailing mood and are gradually overtaken by a sensation and desire of attaining success even in hard times. Basically, this imparted tolerance and a sense of survivorship.
The introduction of the play to the highly excited crowd is a clear indication of the love that the earlier audience had for the musical play. In the beginning of the musical play, the fight between the characters and the disagreements that seize by the end illustrates a sense of acceptance as well as tolerance amongst the different groups by all the partakers. Although it doesn’t emerge automatically, one keenly notices a sense of tolerance as well as the ability to reconcile amongst the key characters of the play.
Apparently, another element of tolerance is demonstrated by the varied racial composition of the actors who frequently engage in fierce exchange and at times even fight over their differences.4 This is despite the fact that they are a singular community with an aim to achieve a definite goal t hat in the end is attained. The background songs remain critical in the inspiration of the audiences as w ell as characters during different hard situations as they interact with their mates.
The musical play then begins, presenting a love tight and socially sensitive demonstration of a community unified by only one goal. Characters love and get loved with others heartbroken but still are adamant to create a difference within the boat society and ensure they become more appreciated and valued by others.5
This aspect presents a literal message to the audience to try fitting into the society’s mainstream even in times of neglect and lost love. The presentation of the fight between the actors and branding of each with names based on shear discrimination such as “mulatto” satirically depicts the normal society and the intrigues involved in the daily lives.
The segregation of a female actor, Julie at based on her race the beginning of the play during the fight represents the pain that one was likely to face during this time in America. However, the playwright comically presents another character, Steve, who has to swallow Julie’s blood.
This act is a satirical move that shows tolerance of different groups since Steve comically admits that he is also a mulatto since he took at least “one drop of black blood” in him. The events that follow this comic presentation depict a critical theme upon a comprehensive analysis. To begin with, it is important to note the mood that prevails within the entire troupe just when Steve acknowledges the presence of black blood in him.
It is observable that the whole troupe remains sympathetic and echoes his sentiments. This is a satirical presentation of tolerance with one another despite their inadequacies or circumstances. Every action purely drives home a pure presentation of critical message of tolerance and motivation to the audience. Seemingly, it is notable that there exist few literary sources elucidating the manner in which the audience received and articulated the satirical messages presented within the musical play.
It is also observable that as the play continues, the formerly rather outrageous sheriff is forced to drop his arrest interests on Julie and Steve. This act presents a sense of tolerance with “deviants” as would be termed in that society then.
The sheriff’s ability to sympathize with Steve’s situation along with other troupe members compromises his ability to enforce law by arresting the two..the tolerance and acceptance of Steve to Julie is further demonstrated when he agrees to leave the town with Julie. Perhaps, this is with the realization that their further stay within the town or with the troupe is bound to cause more harm.6
The consequent hiring of Gaylord Ravenal who unfortunately loses his ticket worth in gambling demonstrates a great deal of empathy as well as tolerance. Andy, upon firing Pete, seems amused and sympathizes with Gaylord Ravenal and therefore offers him a job as the new leading man for the troupe. It is amazing how the demonstration of tolerance remains depicted in this noble action from Andy.
That despite Gaylord Ravenal’s weird gambling behavior; he is still accommodated and given a new job in the troupe as the leading man. As if this is not enough, this follows after Steve and Julie are exempted of arrest by the sheriff. The following events enable Gaylord Ravenal and Magnolia to fall deeply in love as they finally tolerate one another and propose for marriage.
Parthy’s objections towards this union can no longer work as the two seriously fall in love and proceed to marriage in Parthy’s absence. It is notable that Parthy became tolerable with their situation and could never do anything to stop the marriage. It is stated that she could not do anything despite her disapproval of Gaylord Ravenal.
The musical play continues to demonstrate various instances of tolerance as the time passes over the years even in Gaylord Ravenal and Magnolia’s marriage. Magnolia is depicted as a persistent wife of Gaylord Ravenal. This is despite the fact that Gaylord Ravenal suffers financial crisis and is no longer capable of maintaining their daughter Kim as well as the wife.
Obviously, one critically notices the tolerant nature of Magnolia through her persistence in the marriage. It is obvious that Oscar Hammerstein throughout the musical play and within critical incidences satirically brings out the theme of tolerance with each other. This is evidently indicated in every conflict and union within the play.
Magnolia herself is given a singing job in a New York club by her very friends so she can help herself financially after the husband shamefully abandons her and the daughter. In this move, the ability to accept one another and tolerate one’s situation is evidently illustrated again in the musical play. It is in this club where when Magnolia does her audition with the childhood song “Can’t Help Lovin Dat Man” that Julie’s memories are aroused.7
Julie, upon leaning the presence of Magnolia in the club and her situation, tactfully resigns from her position so that her childhood friend Magnolia can acquire the new position or job. It is however shocking that Magnolia though never realizes the sacrificial action and tolerance done to her by her childhood friend Julie. This obviously demonstrates a great sense of sacrifice as well as tolerance with one another.
Every character is able to sympathize with their friends and old acquaintances in difficult moments (Magee, 311). Later on during a new year’s eve, Andy rallies the crowd to Julie’s defense when she is overwhelmed by emotions and cannot effectively perform on stage. It is evident that such sacrifices make Magnolia a great musical star for two decades. Andy’s sacrificial nature and initiative for the reunion of broken marriages depicts a real sense of tolerance and devotion to the welfare of friends.8
Magnolia accepts Ravenal back despite his misdeed and individual guilt of disowning her with the child. Generally, the musical play ends in a joyous mood with unity and peace. Everyone is happy and sings to the same song and tune as they return to the show boat. Conclusively, Oscar Hammerstein’s musical play remains one of the most socially educative and sensitive ancient American plays, with a great satirical encouragement of tolerance to the audience.
Bradley, Edwin. The first Hollywood musicals: a critical filmography of 171 features, 1927 through 1932. New York: McFarland & Co., 2004.
Magee, Jeffrey. Irving Berlin’s American musical theater. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Stempel, Larry. Showtime: a history of the Broadway musical theater. New York Norton, 2010.
Wolf, Stacy. Changed for good: a feminist history of the Broadway musical. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
1 Jeffrey Magee, Irving Berlin’s American musical theater (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 11.
2 Stacy Wolf, Changed for good: a feminist history of the Broadway musical, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 12.
3 Larry Stempel, Showtime: a history of the Broadway musical theater (New York: Norton, 2010), 56.
4 Jeffrey Magee, Irving Berlin’s American musical theater (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 111.
5 Edwin Bradley, The first Hollywood musicals: a critical filmography of 171 features, 1927 through 1932 (New York: McFarland & Co., 2004), 56.
6 Edwin Bradley, The first Hollywood musicals: a critical filmography of 171 features, 1927 through 1932 (New York: McFarland & Co., 2004), 303.
7 Larry Stempel, Showtime: a history of the Broadway musical theater (New York: Norton, 2010), 314.
8 Edwin Bradley, The first Hollywood musicals: a critical filmography of 171 features, 1927 through 1932 (New York: McFarland & Co., 2004), 307.
Religious Tolerance in Ottoman Empire Essay
In the Ottoman Empire, there was religious tolerance because religion played a critical role in enhancing peace and stability. Religious leaders were respected because they were depended upon during calamities and disasters. Moreover, religious leaders had a big role to play in ensuring that people lived in harmony.
Religious tolerance in the Ottoman Empire could not be compared to religious tolerance in the Roman Empire because diversity was not allowed in the Roman Empire. Non-Muslims, often referred to as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their forms of religions, but under close supervision.
Christians were allowed to exist freely, as long as they accepted the fact that Islam was the supreme religion in the empire. In matters related to religion, the Ottoman Empire formulated policies that favored freedom of religion. This was because the clergy had the role to play in the running and management of public affairs.
Religion was treated as an institution of government with powers to execute governmental policies. In this regard, the government formulated a number of policies aimed at regulating the performance of religious organizations. The empire had strong relationships with other empires that respected religious institutions, such as the Greek Orthodox Church (Karpat 78).
Religious tolerance in the Ottoman Empire was very important in two major ways. One is that the empire was surrounded by states that practiced Christianity. In fact, it was the only state, which practiced Islam as its major religion in Europe.
The neighboring states embraced Christianity meaning that it could have lost its status in case it proscribed other religions. For instance, the neighboring states, such as Greece, never tolerated Islam. It could be disastrous in case the state neglected the rights of other religious groups supported by major powers in Europe.
To avoid political inconsistencies, the state allowed other religious groups to exercise their rights. Moreover, the state had an ambition of expanding to other regions. This ambition could not have been achieved in case religious tolerance was not adopted.
It became easy to conquer other states because conquered states could be allowed to practice their cultural beliefs. Many kingdoms and chiefdoms resisted foreign powers because they interfere with their cultural rights and freedom. By embracing religious tolerance, the empire negotiated easily with other foreign powers on matters related to cooperation and security.
The millet system refers to the system of governance in which minorities are given powers to conduct their activities without interference from dominant groups. Arabs in the Ottoman Empire introduced the system after the adoption of Islamic religion.
Before the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, the millet system was used to cater for the needs of the poor in society. The government would provide basic needs such as food to the needy. In the Ottoman Empire, minor religious groups were given a set of norms that would control their behavior in the empire.
Their existence in society was recognized legally because they were allowed to worship their gods without interference. Under the millet system, the majority was viewed as the mainstream while the minority was expected to conform to the norms and regulations of the majority.
Christians and other minority groups were supposed to follow the Islamic laws, by appreciating the fact that Islam was the main religion in the Ottoman Empire. In this case, Christians and other minorities were not supposed to act in a way that would compromise the belief system of Muslims.
Individual millets in the Ottoman Empire were taken care of by their local leaders. The millets lived in groups and could form their own states within the larger empire. They could be allowed to establish their own taxation system.
However, their agencies could only be functional after receiving approval from the Ottoman Empire officials. Moreover, the millets could have their own set of laws, which could only apply within their boundaries. In case of an inconsistency with non-millets, Islamic laws could be invoked (Imber 12).
Millets were left to enjoy their rights, but they were supposed to show loyalty by paying taxes to the main government.
The millet system applied to the confessional communities only. Each community could come with its own laws, as long as the laws were not contradictory to the laws of the Ottoman Empire. In the current international system, the word nation is used to mean the same thing as the millet.
Each person was supposed to respect the laws of his community under the millet system. The system was very effective, though a number of European states opposed it.
Millet system is used by various countries, including Israel, to solve issues related to religion and culture. The millet system is used mainly because of cultural diversity among the Israeli populace. Israel is a state that was established in 1948 under the supervision of United Nations.
Its population has a diverse culture, which makes it difficult for the government to use a single set of rules. The application of the millet system is aimed at enhancing Jewish identify. Moreover, the country cannot afford to apply Jewish laws to all people because it would risk being isolated by other states.
Therefore, the state allows various groups to apply their private laws to resolve internal conflicts. Scholars observe that legal pluralism (millet system) in Israel has not been successful.
Under the millet system, the Israeli government gives various groups the power to establish courts that would resolve issues related to the family and marriage. Moreover, each group is given the power to establish its own religious court, which is charged with the responsibility of resolving issues related to faith.
In this case, groups can only endorse marriages that their cultures support. In the Islamic culture, Muslim men can marry Christian women, but a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian man because it is against the Arabic culture. In matters related to divorce, each religion has its laws and regulations.
The millet system allows each group to apply the set of laws that are recognized culturally. In the Israeli society, a Muslim should not marry a Jewish because it is unconstitutional (Turchin 14). This rule is in the constitution implying that the millet system cannot be used in such cases.
In some parts of France, the millet system is applied effectively. For instance, women are expected to wear hijab while men are expected to keep long hair. In such regions, there are tight laws regarding the sale of certain commodities.
For instance, alcohol is not sold to certain age groups while pork is prohibited. Moreover, there is a public order regulating the licensing of clubs, cinemas, and theaters. Social places are termed places of sin because they do not conform to the provisions of the Islamic religion.
In the Ottoman Empire, the regime tolerated religious diversity because of the factors discussed in the previous sections. However, religious tolerance was weak because it favored one religious group. The political elites observed that Islam was the supreme religion and other religious groups had to obey it.
This was unacceptable because favoring one religious denomination amounted to discrimination. Religious toleration emerged from Islamic teachings, not the constitution. This meant that Islam would be applied in interpreting major religious issues.
For instance, it was against religious codes to practice homosexuality and abortion because Islam was against it. Moreover, Islam never allowed Muslims to interact with other groups socially. Religious tolerance in the empire was weak because Muslims were not allowed to convert to other religious denominations.
Moreover, leadership was supposed to be offered by religious leaders from Islamic religion only. In public places, all non- Muslims were expected to wear clothes that would distinguish them from Muslims.
In fact, no-Muslims were restricted from participating in key political processes such as voting and applying for senior positions in government.
Other religious groupings were supposed to pay a special tax referred to as jizya. This was a tax paid by all non-Muslims for them to be allowed to practice their cultures peacefully.
In other words, non-Muslims were allowed to buy their freedom, unlike Muslims who could be allowed to exercise their freedom without restriction. All adults living in the Islamic states were supposed to pay taxes as a sign of loyalty to the government.
Christians who never showed loyalty to Islam were often persecuted and oppressed. Ottoman tolerance was based on goodwill and cleverness because it only benefited Turkish Muslims.
Imber, Colin. The Ottoman Empire, 1300–1650: The Structure of Power. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Print.
Karpat, Kemal. The Ottoman state and its place in world history. Leiden: Brill, 1974. Print.
Turchin, Thomas, and J. Adams. “East-West Orientation of Historical Empires”. Journal of World-Systems Research 12.2 (2006): 219–229. Print.
Linguistics: Bilingualism, Multilingualism and Tolerance Essay
A recent article by Dewaele and Wei (231) regarding the relationship between multilingualism and personality has attracted my attention. In the article, the researchers state that tolerance of ambiguity is the tendency of an individual to see ambiguous situations as desirable or positive.
They used a survey of more than 2,000 individuals in examining the relationship between the two phenomena. In their findings, the researchers argue that monolinguals have a significantly low tolerance of ambiguity compared to the bilingual and multilingual people.
The authors admit that understanding more than three languages does not necessarily mean that an individual has a high tolerance of ambiguity. However, high scores of tolerance for ambiguity are associated with high proficiency. In their conclusion, Dawaele and Wei state that there are several psychological benefits for the people who speak more than one language, especially in language learning, especially in a person’s later life.
I think the article can change our ideas about the acquisition of foreign languages because most of us think that learning a foreign language is a waste of time and resources.
Personal conversation stream
I think the argument here is somewhat logical. Let us consider two main situations: understanding a foreign language due to social and cultural circumstance and understanding a new language due to personal efforts.
Here in Canada, we learn both French and English because of the prevailing social, cultural and geographical circumstances. Our children must learn the two languages because they live in a society where both French and English are national languages. On the other hand, learning a foreign language such as Spanish, Chinese or Arabic is rare in our country.
People with some knowledge of a foreign language are considered to be elites. I think this is true because these elites are able to integrate with foreign communities and adapt more quickly than us, because we only understand one or two languages.
In my opinion, multilingual individuals are able to live within foreign communities or in foreign countries without struggling to communicate. I think they can tolerate the social and cultural aspects of a foreign group of people because they understand what most of the foreign cultural aspects mean. How does the understanding of a foreign language help one fit in a new environment?
We should understand that language is the main social aspect that fosters understanding and the people’s ability to live with each other. While living in Japan in the 1990s, I realized the disadvantages associated with the lack of an understanding of local languages. Without knowledge of the Japanese language, I found it difficult to appreciate the social and cultural aspects of society. In particular, communication in the country was purely in the local language.
For example, I found it difficult to appreciate the local cuisine and entertainment. The cultural norms in Japan looked ambiguous to me. I think this is what Dewaele and Wei (233) were considering when studying a person’s ability to appreciate ambiguous things. I admired my colleagues who had some understanding of the Japanese language because they were able to fit in the new society.
Therefore, I think the article by Dewaele and Wei (234) attempts to describe some of the problems I experienced in Japan. This shows the existence of a strong link between tolerance of ambiguous things and knowledge of a foreign language (Dewaele and Li Wei 237).
In my opinion, a person with some understanding of a local language is likely to find some of the social and cultural things in a foreign country awkward or abnormal. If the person has no understanding of the people’s language, his level of appreciating the culture is likely to be low. On the other hand, if a person understands the foreign language, he is likely to appreciate the meaning of most of the cultural and social aspects of the community. Therefore, I agree with Dewale and Wei’s article.
Dewaele, Jean-Marc and Li Wei. ‘Is multilingualism linked to a higher tolerance of ambiguity?’ Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 16.1 (2013): 231-240. Print
Tolerance and Equal Attitude to People Essay
In modern world, ideas of tolerance and equal attitude to people which represent different layers of society and different nationalities are proclaimed to be of a great value. It is stated that all people are equal and there is no use separating someone. However, all these ideas are not always observed and people still suffer from racial, cultural and gender prejudices. Moreover, nowadays another practice obtains more and more popularity. Very often, tying to guarantee fulfillment of the right to equal attitude, some people run to another extremes.
There is a tendency nowadays for the class-based affirmative action. It means that representatives of some racial minority, depressing class or a group which suffers from discrimination are treated differently and some special support is given to them.
Primary, there are some special terms for study in educational establishments which are characterized by lower costs or some preferential terms of entering. Being rather disputable decision, these measures have already introduced national conversation about the morality and legality of racial preferences (“Richard Kahlenberg: Time for class-based affirmative action”, 2012) and debates whether they should be accepted or not.
Analyzing this problem, it is quite logical to start with the main advantages of this practice. First of all, it should be stated that very often these measures are really needed, as it is a well known fact that representatives of different racial groups on the average have lower incomes and live under worse conditions than representatives of the majority. That is why, very often this practice can help them to improve their state by obtaining education and getting a well paid job.
Another obvious advantage of this practice is that according to some research, class-based affirmative action improve racial diversity, though not as much as policies that use race as a criterion (Kahlenberg, 2009).
These positive dividends cannot be ignored. One more advantage is that this measure can influence development of interracial relations between representatives of different nationalities in the country. As a result of this practice, great racial diversity could be observed in colleges and schools and students would have to build relations with each other in order to feel themselves comfortable while studying.
However, there are not only advantages promoted by this practice. There is one great drawback which this issue obtains. “The problem with affirmative action is simply that it treats races differently” (McWhorter, 2011). With this in mind, it is possible to say that it is a kind of segregation which is now officially promoted. No matter what purposes this practice has, it still can be humiliating for representatives of different racial minorities or other discriminated groups (McWhorter, 2011).
Trying to guarantee equality for all people, officials underline that some men still do not have the same abilities and facilities which the rest of the population has. That is why opponents of this practice say that the race based approach should be strongly prohibited as it humiliates human dignity. Some other ways to support people in need should exist. At least, the race based approach should be replaced with the class based one. It seems to be more tolerant than the previous one.
Taking into account all facts connected with this issue, it is possible to outline my own opinion. First of all, existence of some groups of people in need should be recognized. That is why, it is clear for me that some actions are needed to help this category of people. However, I condemn the race based approach to affirmative action. The main reason is that it returns times of segregation and different laws for different nations. That is why another approach should be implemented.
With relation to this fact, the class based approach seems to be fair and modern as it does not promote development of racial prejudices and further societys division. However, this solution is also not ideal. It is based on the ability of some class to guarantee its own survival. However, it deals with the information collected statistically and it can often be decisive.
That is why further development of this approach can be suggested. Representatives of a certain social class could be given different advantages only on their demand. In this case, their dignity will not be humiliated and they will not suffer from the stereotype based approach.
Having analyzed the data connected with this issue, it is possible to make some certain conclusion. In contemporary society officials try to guarantee equal rights for all people, no matter what nationality or class they represent. However, providing practice of race based or class based affirmative action, they still infringe rights of these people (Kahlenberg, 2009). Race based approach can only worsen existing situation and lead to further exaltation of tension between representatives of different national communities.
Moreover, it humiliates human dignity and make people think about their inability to guarantee their future and have the same rights as the rest of population has. That is why the race based approach should be replaced with class based in order to help people which are in need.
Kahlenberg, R. (2009). The Next Step in Affirmative Action. Washington Monthly. Web.
McWhorter, J. (2011). Why No One Is Right in California’s Affirmative Action Debate. New Republic. Web.
Richard Kahlenberg: Time for class-based affirmative action. (2012). The Dallas Morning News. Web.
Religious Tolerance in Different Systems of Beliefs Essay
Religion is a diverse subject and sensitive in the world today. The awareness of the roles religion play in the lives of humans is not a new thing but has been exemplified even by American founding fathers. Academic approach to religions is an important and completely different from the instructional classes one receives from theological institutions and from ones’ religious classes.
Our world view is shaped by our cultural and religious perceptions and as a result, it becomes difficult for us to see how our inherent religiousness, which seems to find a comfortable fit when we look into our own respective faiths, may have evolved into something completely different and strange in someone else’s religion.
Studying other people’s religions therefore is not a simple task and requires a lot of tolerance for these religions meaning that one has to see the possibility of the other person’s religion to be as true as his/ her religion. This is an important factor if we are to live in this world of diverse religions peaceably. The purpose of this paper is to explore the subject of religious tolerance and its usefulness in the academic approach to the religious phenomenon.
The cultural practices of the Hindus sate back to 1500 BCE but the use of the word Hindu came into use much later. The history of Hinduism dates back to 3000 BCE following a cultural encounter of two groups of people who were among the first to settle in the Indus River Valley. The religious practices synthesized by this group became what today is known as Hinduism.
In addition, the contemporary Hinduism though it has its roots in Vedas has evolved into a completely different system. This system does not only incorporate Hinduism but also other religions such as Islam and Christianity, which have found their way into the Indian society. According to Huston, India has turned into a home of many exiles whereby most of them are Tibetan Buddhists (1991, p. 150). Dalai Lama is the exiles’ leader.
The history of Buddhism date back millennia ago. Buddhist teaching give little or no explanation for the creation. It starts with the a priori position that everything in this world is transient and without permanence, which goes against the Moksha goal of the Upanishads, which places its faith in the reality of permanent self or Atman that transcends death, and its ultimate identity with the supreme Self Brahman.
Buddhist approach therefore pays more attention on the process of how to attain spiritual freedom, or Nirvana through voluntary human effort. In explaining how one can attain Nirvana Buddhism provides Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path (Huston,1991, p. 158). The four noble truths include: 1) all life is suffering, 2) All suffering, according to the Buddha arises from Tanha (desire or craving in Pali): Humans, prompted by their insatiable desire, long for ever-newer experiences to satiate their senses. Unaware of the ever-changing nature of the world, people inevitably suffer disappointment when their wishes fail, 3) that suffering should cease if desiring ends and lastly that It is possible to stop desiring by following the eightfold path prescribed by Buddha.
It gives a path intended to end human suffering. This path entails right livelihood, view, speech, concentration and conduct among other key aspects for ending suffering. This path seems like a behavioral model designed to transform oneself into a better person intellectually, morally, and emotionally.
Chinese Religious Traditions
It is important to note that geography seem to have nurtured the development of human cultures through ages and across the globe. In Chinese history, there are two rivers that have played significant roles are the Yellow (Huang Ho) River in the North, and the Yangtze River in the south. Archeological evidence suggests that the Yellow River was the lifeline nurturing the ancient human settlements in East Asia (Huston, 1991, p.89).
Traditional Chinese history tells us that another ruling family called the Xia preceded the Shang rulers. Furthermore, the two prominent political cultures of ancient China that succeeded the Shang, namely the Zhou, and the Han, may have looked back at the Shang, to model their own political systems. Historians locate the emergence of Confucianism and Taoism as organized systems of thought in the later part of the Zhou rule. It is important to note that these two systems pay considerable attention to improving human behavior.
The Chinese Concept of Kingship has a paramount relationship with religious authority. The concept combines three factors, ancestral worship, and long periods of rule by a particular dynasty, and the recognition of the family as the primary social unit that can teach us how to behave (Huston, 1991, p.120).
This explains why the reigning monarch would be considered the rightful worshipper not only for his family, but also for society. In this case, government would be an extension of a large family, where the king as the head of the household, as well as the head of the kingdom would be the undisputed authority over his subjects.
In many ways, the Taoist worldview complements the Confucian perspective. Whereas Confucianism mainly focuses on promoting ethical order and harmony within human society, Taoism sets its views on the way of Cosmos, and Nature, and therefore emphasizes individual spirituality (Huston, 1991,p.126).
Taoist philosophy emphasizes several points, which include achievement of intuitive harmony with the primal nature of the universe is the final goal, that Tao is the name for the overarching cosmic order: It is a fundamental metaphysical category, beyond characterization through language (note difference in meaning from Confucianism) and that Tao is the traditional Chinese expression of mystical thought. It is an intuitive and direct experience of the total and unitary reality, which can never be sufficiently analyzed or described.
History, for Judaism, is neither an illusion, nor a circular process of nature, nor is it coequal to God. Instead, it is the arena of God’s purposeful activity, and is under his absolute command. The Hebrew Bible, unlike the Vedas, Upanishads, the Tripitakas, or the Confucian and Taoist texts, is organized according to a specific chronological order (Goldberg & John,1989,p.327).
The era of the Babylonian exile, and the subsequent return of the exiled population to Jerusalem during 6th through 5th century B.C.E., is an important age in the history of Judaism as it marks the transformation of the tradition from a temple-centered worship of God to a congregational worship under the guidance of a Rabbi in a synagogue.
Christianity developed its separate identity by the end of the first century C.E., and became the imperial religion by the fourth century. The ancient Christian Church, often referred to as the Catholic Church, broke into the Latin and the Greek factions by the eleventh century. Since then it is the Latin Church (called the Roman Catholic Church), centered in Rome, which has played a central role in developing Medieval Europe’s religious and social institutions.
In the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church again faced a crisis, which led to the rise of Protestantism. Christianity, from very early on, had emphasized a commitment of faith in the figure of Jesus as the Savior. Prior to Emperor Constantine’s recognition of the tradition, creedal statements were often used to proclaim one’s commitment to this faith and one’s membership in the believing community.
Christianity used creedal statements, which includes the apostles and the Nicene Creeds. While named the Apostle’s Creed, there exists no evidence, that apostles ever used this particular version. The Nicene Creed, a second version of the creedal statement presented here is from a later era, first formulated at the Council in Nicea in 325 C.E., but ratified in its present form in 381 C.E.
Another aspect of Christian tradition that came to its own during the first few centuries of the Common Era is the tradition of Asceticism. The ascetic tradition preference may be because it focused on spiritual seeking (a life of hardship, and strict discipline) may have appealed to certain members of the Christian community and that some of the early ascetics may have had an apocalyptic aim, trying to prepare them for the impending Kingdom of God (Esposito et al., 2002, p. 417). Other reasons are that during the second and third century of Christian persecution, solitary life in the desert may have become an alternative to martyrdom and that renouncing luxury and wealth may have been a statement of one’s voluntary acceptance of the Christian ideal.
Another important era in Christianity history is the rise of Protestantism. Many history books focus on the theological position of the German monk Martin Luther and his differences with the Catholic Church on the corrupt practice of the sale of indulgences as one of the major reasons behind the rise of Protestantism (Esposito et al, 2002, p. 417).
Some of the causes may include the increased political and economic power of many rulers of northern Europe as their maritime expeditions led to the founding of new colonies outside Europe. Their newly acquired powers prompted them to challenge the political and religious authority of the Pope based in Rome and the immense wealth of the Church and the corrupt behavior of many Church officials may have fueled the public indignation against the institution.
Religion is a basis of human life in a way and can be distinguished to have a universal aspect. This universal aspect of religion is not unique to the Eastern traditions, it can be found in the hymns and writings of all religions, including Christian saints and Jewish mystics as well. This universal aspect of the religious impulse forces us to explore the possibility for a biological basis of religious sentiment. For this reason, it is important for people, who study the academic approach to this phenomenon, to step out of their forms of belief so that they can understand the other people’s beliefs better. This does not necessarily mean the abandoning of one’s faith but giving an opportunity to view religion from another side, an aspect that will give a deeper understanding and thus creating a more peaceable community.
Esposito, J., Darrell F., & Todd L. (2002). World Religions Today. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Goldberg, D. J., & John D. R.(1989). The Jewish People: Their History and their Religion. London: Penguin Books.
Huston, S. (1991). The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions, Rev. Edition. UK: Harper.