One Nation Under Pluralism


| 3/10/2008 4:00:03 PM


God Bless AmericaThe culture war in the United States is often framed as a clash between evangelicalism and pluralism. But, unlike the secularism common in Europe, religious pluralism is not an ideology; its inclusiveness means it need not clash with anyone. What’s surprising, Marcia Pally explains in Utne Independent Press Awards nominee Islamica, is that the U.S. tradition of pluralism was built largely by evangelicals.

 Since colonial times, evangelicals have emphasized the spiritual primacy of the individual, motivating them to advocate for the freedom of conscience in religious matters. Whatever the theocratic fringe may be crowing about, the dominant evangelical intellectual strain “disposed Americans to multi-confessional communities—in other words, to pluralism,” Pally writes. She credits this as a major reason that devout U.S. Muslims have an easier time participating in the broader culture than their European counterparts do, even since 9/11 and its anti-Muslim backlash.

Perhaps some evangelicals would find it ironic and even offensive that their spiritual tradition might positively affect the American Muslim experience. But to many, for whom the ideal of freedom of conscience has never been a mere political ploy, this no doubt sounds exactly right.

Steve Thorngate



Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!




Facebook Instagram Twitter