Special Issue "Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Enzo Pace

Galilean School of Higher Education, University of Padua, Via Cesarotti 12, 35123 Padova, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sociology of religion; sociology of islam; religion and communication; digital religion; system theory and religion
Guest Editor
Dr. Alberto Da Silva Moreira

Program in Religion Sciences, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Goiás, Av. Universitária, 1440 - Setor Universitário, Goiânia - GO, 74605-010, Brazil
Website | E-Mail
Interests: social and cultural anthropology; cultural studies; cultural sociology; culture; societies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Questions of religious diversity and pluralism are of great importance in contemporary societies (Beckford, 2003; Heelas and Woodhead, 2005b). A large number of religious diversity and mapping studies have emerged in recent years. These often local, regional and qualitative investigations have greatly extended our knowledge about questions of religious diversity and pluralism, from Europe to China, from North America to Latin-American countries. Roughly speaking, we move from a general and sociographic overviews of the phenomenon (i.e., Eck, 2001; Willaime, 2004; Pollack, 2008; Bouma, 2010; Bochinger, 2012) sometimes based on interpretation of official statistical data (in particular, national census) (Bovay, 1997; Oro and Mariano, 2011) to a mapping study focused on limited geographical areas (cities or regional areas: Cnaan and Boddie, 2001; Humbert, 2004; Martikainen, 2004; Helaas and Woodhead, 2005, and at national level: Hero, 2008; Woodhead, Catto, 2012; Pace, 2013). Among the studies, many of them focused on the evolution of religious diversity, affecting specific religions transplanted in a different context due to migration processes, in particular Muslim, Tamil, Sikh and Hindu communities in Western societies.

The distinction (suggested by Bouma, 1997; Beckford, 2003; Stolz and Baumann, 2007) between a descriptive notion of religious diversity and a normative framework that rules religious pluralism represents a heuristic starting point in understanding the social and religious changes in the contemporary world, due to the growing pressure of migration, and cultural and religious differentiation. The presence of cultures and traditions different from those that historically shaped various nations triggers processes of relating and comparing many aspects of daily social life, from politics to education, from economics to healthcare, from legal institutions to media, as well as the relationships between generations and genres.

The first aim of this Special Issue is to highlight how the factual situation of cultural and religious diversity may lead to individual, social and political choices of organized and recognized pluralism. It implies a redefinition of both the individual and collective identities, incessantly moving along the continuum that ranges from exclusion to inclusion. Starting from the different levels of legitimacy granted to religions other than one’s own, changes in the relationship between religion and politics, as well as are the coexistence and/or conflict among the various religions and between the believers and their own religions. One important aspect concerns the role of the state, and official institutions may play to benefit or to marginalize different and competing religious groups and movements. On the other hand, competing religious groups may increase their influence over the state and official politics, or even put into practice political strategies to co-opt the state apparatus. In this sense, the move to a religious pluralistic global landscape puts new questions on the relationship between democracy and religious diversity. Other important aspects concern the theological hard work that churches and religious communities are obligated to develop, in order to integrate or at least to respond to the social fact of religious diversity in their everyday lives and doctrines.

We are coping with a global religious field, according to the seminal studies by Roland Robertson. Such an unprecedented situation requires new tools, both at conceptual and methodological levels in order to be analyzed properly. Religious diversity actually obligated social scientists of religion and theologians to come up with new theoretical approaches and methods of analyses. The transition from religious diversity to religious pluralism is one of the most important challenges that will reshape the role of religion in contemporary society. The second aim of the Special Issue is to invite scholars, both of social sciences of religions and the theology of religious pluralism, to reflect on the new cognitive perspectives we need to come up with in order to comprehend (in Weberian terms) the social and political changes due to global religious diversity.

Prof. Dr. Enzo Pace
Prof. Dr. Alberto Da Silva Moreira
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Religious diversity and iperdiversity
  • pluralism
  • religion & politics of identity
  • theology of religious diversity

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Introduction—Religious Diversity in a Global Religious Field
Religions 2018, 9(4), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040095
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 14 March 2018 / Accepted: 14 March 2018 / Published: 24 March 2018
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessEditorial Conclusion
Religions 2018, 9(4), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040094
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 22 March 2018 / Accepted: 22 March 2018 / Published: 24 March 2018
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)

Research

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Open AccessArticle Diversity without Pluralism: Religious Landscape in Mainland China
Religions 2018, 9(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9010022
Received: 3 October 2017 / Revised: 6 January 2018 / Accepted: 9 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (183 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper explores religious diversity and pluralism in the religioscape of mainland China with three examples. While religious diversity is de facto practice, “religious pluralism” is not socially recognised, culturally legitimised, or discursively institutionalised. On the one hand, state co-option of religious groups [...] Read more.
The paper explores religious diversity and pluralism in the religioscape of mainland China with three examples. While religious diversity is de facto practice, “religious pluralism” is not socially recognised, culturally legitimised, or discursively institutionalised. On the one hand, state co-option of religious groups is achieved through particular definition of “religion” without the conceptualisation of pluralism, leaving undefined religious activities to cultural policy or national security measures. On the other hand, practices that might be identified as religious elsewhere does not usually self-identified as such, not to say seek for the right of religious freedom. To explain the absence of articulated/institutionalised “religious pluralism” in China, the paper provides three examples—civil activism against tomb-levelling campaign, “the Society of Disciples” (mentuhui), and a ritual service provider. The paper argues that the religioscape of mainland China is one with de facto religious diversity without the ideology of religious pluralism, because the diverse religious practices do not make a conscious reference to pluralism, remain non-institutional, disinterested in religious freedom, and, most important of all, below the state’s radar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle From Religious Diversity to Political Competition: The Differentiation Process of Pentecostalism in Brazil
Religions 2018, 9(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9010014
Received: 11 November 2017 / Revised: 21 December 2017 / Accepted: 29 December 2017 / Published: 5 January 2018
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Abstract
The growing religious diversity in Brazil has more to do with a differentiation process within Pentecostalism itself than with the presence of very diverse religious groups. Starting with the analysis of such differentiation process, the article aims to discuss the need of terminological [...] Read more.
The growing religious diversity in Brazil has more to do with a differentiation process within Pentecostalism itself than with the presence of very diverse religious groups. Starting with the analysis of such differentiation process, the article aims to discuss the need of terminological improvement and eventually the necessity of Keynesian rules adopted by the State to regulate ultraliberal religious markets. In unequal societies and religious markets such as those in Brazil, Pentecostal leaders’ greedy attitudes regarding their own adherents and aggressive intolerance against other religions’ followers are coherent with a functionalist religious market conception. In this view, highly aggressive strategies of some Pentecostal churches vis-à-vis other adversaries are seen as belonging to the normal functioning of a (neo-liberal) self-regulated social subsystem. Therefore, reflections on religious diversity inspired on a market model assume neoliberal macro conditions (total deregulation and free competition) as granted or desirable. Religious diversity would appear as the “natural” consequence of religious competition. However, put in Beckford’s terms, how can religious pluralism be achieved under terrible conditions of religious diversity? Intolerant attitudes of neo-Pentecostal leaders undermine the very bases of democracy and put the discussion on religious diversity and pluralism under new theoretical and political exigencies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle Religious Diversity in the Public Sphere: The Canadian Case
Religions 2017, 8(12), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8120259
Received: 6 October 2017 / Revised: 15 November 2017 / Accepted: 18 November 2017 / Published: 27 November 2017
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Abstract
This paper analyzes the contours of religious and nonreligious diversity in the Canadian public sphere. The ever-changing (non)religious landscape offers an opportunity to consider the flow of ideas from this new diversity to responses and choices at the individual, group, and state levels [...] Read more.
This paper analyzes the contours of religious and nonreligious diversity in the Canadian public sphere. The ever-changing (non)religious landscape offers an opportunity to consider the flow of ideas from this new diversity to responses and choices at the individual, group, and state levels to inclusion and exclusion. The paper first begins with a descriptive approach to religious diversity, identifying the normatively-charged nature inherent to measures of religion. It then turns to the notion of choices, considering the somewhat uniquely Canadian contributions of multiculturalism, reasonable accommodation, and the recent complication of nonreligion as a category of religious identity. The paper then considers three case studies which reveal the tensions embedded in the new diversity and responses to it in Canada, including (1) the Saint-Sacrement Hospital crucifix incident; (2) Zunera Ishaq’s challenge to the citizenship ceremony niqab ban; and (3) school controversies in Ontario’s Peel Region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle Theology Facing Religious Diversity: The Perspective of Latin American Pluralist Theology
Religions 2017, 8(10), 233; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8100233
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 5 October 2017 / Accepted: 7 October 2017 / Published: 24 October 2017
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Abstract
Life is plural and diverse, biodiverse. This reality has always provoked philosophy, the sciences, and also theology. But how does theological thinking reflect on this eco-human diversity? What about religious diversity? Are diversity and pluralism the same phenomenon? These questions express the aim [...] Read more.
Life is plural and diverse, biodiverse. This reality has always provoked philosophy, the sciences, and also theology. But how does theological thinking reflect on this eco-human diversity? What about religious diversity? Are diversity and pluralism the same phenomenon? These questions express the aim of this article: to reflect on theology in the face of diversity and pluralism. With the methodology of bibliographic analysis, the article begins by discussing the challenges of this reality. Then it deals with how theology confronts diversity and pluralism. In the end, it reflects on the possibility of Latin American Liberation Theology being conceived as pluralist, articulating itself with the Theology of Religious Pluralism—especially from the 1990s. One of the exponents of the Latin American Liberation Theology that justifies such a paradigm shift is the theologian Leonardo Boff. With his outputs, Latin American theology starts to realize, from the ecological paradigm, the articulation between liberation and dialogue, then being called pluralistic liberation theology. The conclusions of the article point out that cultural change, the ecological paradigm and, recently, the questions of decolonial theology, have led theological thinking to transform more, facing the socio-environmental challenges of diversity, conflicts, and interreligious dialogue, accepting even more the awareness of pluralism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Religious Diversity and Freedom of Conscience in the Arabic Countries Facing Globalization and Migration
Religions 2017, 8(10), 229; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8100229
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 9 October 2017 / Accepted: 9 October 2017 / Published: 18 October 2017
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Abstract
Muslim societies are facing the new challenges of cultural and religious diversity. They are experiencing migratory phenomena, or because they are countries of immigration (such as in the Persian Gulf monarchies and emirates) or countries that are becoming a new destination of migrants [...] Read more.
Muslim societies are facing the new challenges of cultural and religious diversity. They are experiencing migratory phenomena, or because they are countries of immigration (such as in the Persian Gulf monarchies and emirates) or countries that are becoming a new destination of migrants (such as Morocco and other North African nations). These challenges are increasingly urgent due to the effects of other globalization vectors such as new communication technologies that cross all boundaries and foster unprecedented conversions. The purpose of this contribution is limited to the religious aspect of the new forms of diversification faced by Muslim countries. The goal is to analyze to what extent this process biases traditional ways of managing religious diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle Neo-Hindu Fundamentalism Challenging the Secular and Pluralistic Indian State
Religions 2017, 8(10), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8100216
Received: 29 August 2017 / Revised: 13 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 3 October 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (257 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Secularism seems to require separation between religion and State. Regarding India, it would be better to speak of ‘equidistance’ between State and religious denominations. Nonetheless a ‘balanced treatment’ towards the religions leaves the question open as to what form that equidistance should take. [...] Read more.
Secularism seems to require separation between religion and State. Regarding India, it would be better to speak of ‘equidistance’ between State and religious denominations. Nonetheless a ‘balanced treatment’ towards the religions leaves the question open as to what form that equidistance should take. This is the reason of some contradictions in today’s Indian social and political life. It is likely that without the Moghul and British domination Hinduism would not have acquired a militant identity. It was the ‘epiphany’ of well-armed, powerful ‘Others’ (Muslim, Christian or secular) which generated frustration and fear to such an extent that a religious nationalism (Hindutva) was born. Nehru and the Left of the Congress Party leadership thought that modernity would overcome religion, which is a remnant of the past. They were confident that a political culture based on pluralism and tolerance would become the foundations of the new society. This is exactly what Hindu Nationalism takes issue with: the ‘pseudo-seculars’ project of building the national identity without Hinduism or against Hinduism. Hindutva asserts that Hinduism is the basis of the Indian civilization. The Hindu ethos is the soul of the nation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle Diversity vs. Pluralism: Reflections on the Current Situation in the United States
Religions 2017, 8(9), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8090169
Received: 5 August 2017 / Revised: 17 August 2017 / Accepted: 17 August 2017 / Published: 28 August 2017
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Abstract
The United States has considerable religious and ethnic diversity; it has not always embraced pluralism. Known as “a nation of immigrants”, religion has often been seen as a way to integrate newcomers into its national project. That may have worked for European immigrants, [...] Read more.
The United States has considerable religious and ethnic diversity; it has not always embraced pluralism. Known as “a nation of immigrants”, religion has often been seen as a way to integrate newcomers into its national project. That may have worked for European immigrants, who could become ‘White’; it has not worked so well for other ethnic migrants, who could not. The result is a diverse intersectionality that as the present moment is a source of significant religious, ethnic, and political division. Are calls for a vaguely defined “pluralism” enough? No, because deeper social factors are at work. These include increasing economic inequality, a complex split between socio-economic elites and the rest of the population, and shifts in the nature of the religious field. The latter include increased religious individualism, individually oriented prosperity theology, and a sectarian turn among American Evangelicals. Such factors make any simple call for pluralist engagement at best naïve. It is an open question whether or how social unity might be sufficiently reforged. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
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