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The History of American Pluralism

This speech was delivered at a White House gathering celebrating and protecting “America’s Tradition of Religious Pluralism.” The speaker was Vanita Gupta, the head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Unpacking Pluralism

“Remember that words have usage, not meaning.” This off-the-cuff remark from Dr. Frank Stagg in a seminary classroom more than thirty years ago has repeatedly helped to clarify my thinking. I might modify the statement, saying that “words have usage, not inherent meaning” or “the meaning of a word is shaped by usage and context.” But the point is, nonetheless, well-taken. Words have usage, not meaning.

Democracy and Good Governance

Sub-Themes at World Assembly

Why the ‘Interfaith Movement’ Must Rebrand

If I ask you what the human rights, civil rights or environmental movements are about, you likely can give a semi-coherent description that sounds something like what your neighbor might say if we asked her as well. The interfaith relations movement, on the other hand, has no defined brand. (Some people working squarely within the movement actually even giggle a bit when I try to even use the term “interfaith movement.”) 

Teaching World Religions for 40 Years

The first class of a new semester is always magical for me: a clean slate, tabula rasa, and new beginning. As I gaze at the students filling the large lecture hall in the Science Math Building at Saddleback Community College, Mission Viejo, in southern California, my stomach rumbles with nervous energy: my 40th year of teaching, but it seems like I am just beginning.

KidSpirit – Youth Model the Spirit of Pluralism

Take a moment to look back on your youth. Do you remember being 12 or 14? That awkward age on the cusp of adulthood, when you were neither a child nor yet an adult, but alternately identifying with both? Imagine your deepest held values and beliefs at that age; your fledgling sense of self and vulnerability. Did you have opportunities to share what mattered to you? To listen to voices different from your own and marvel at their unique worth and beauty? Flash forward a few years to your late teens and early twenties. How do you recall that sense of self now? Stronger? More settled? Perhaps a bit less open-minded than before?

New Journal on Religion and Contemporary Life

"Religion" is one of the most difficult words to define.  People use the word all of the time but have a hard time flushing out its precise meaning.  Having spent time on issues surrounding defining "religion," I felt it would be a good idea to start a new journal where "religion" can be analyzed, interpreted, and compared with other phenomena.  I figured it would be an accessible, academic, online forum for people to publish on issues surrounding "religion."  Much like State of FormationClaremont Journal of Religion is meant to facilitate academic dialogue and encourage the enactment of deep pluralism.