To many people, the term “spiritual diversity” is about having respect for and displaying loving kindness towards the unique spiritual experiences and expressions of each person. Spiritualityis thought of as an individual dimension of human development in which the individual seeks connectedness, life meaning, and purposeful activity, whatever its specific manifestation. In this view, one can have respect for many spiritual traditions without losing or betraying one’s own faith. Some people use the metaphor of a mountain, with paths that start at many locations but come together at the mountain top, to visualize the ideal societal state of respectful spiritual diversity.
On the other hand, to many religious conservatives, the term “spiritual diversity” means something less wonderful and more sinister. To many people, this term is one part of a pernicious, coordinated effort to weaken traditional morals and “dismantle Christianity” in order to promote anything-goes moral relativism. In this view, spiritual diversity is a smoke screen used to ease gullible Christians into the belief that sins such as homosexuality, premarital sex, and abortion are not sins at all, but simply different pathways in a life that can still be worthy of respect. Such “false teachings,” say some, must be condemned both individually and as a society if Christianity is to survive as a faith, and indeed if we are to survive as a people. Liberal Christians are especially (and accurately) seen as promoters of spiritual diversity as a societal good; this is partly why some conservative Christians wonder how such a thing as a liberal Christian can even exist.
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
Have you ever met anyone who believed something quite different from you, but who at the same time seemed like an honestly good person? How did you make sense of that experience?
Does everyone you know believe in the same things you do? How do you deal with that? Do you talk about it? Do you avoid talking about it?
If you were the king or queen of the world, what would you do about all the people who believe things you don’t believe, or don’t believe what you believe? What would you allow them to do, and what would you stop them from doing? Where would you draw the line in tolerating their differing beliefs?
Do you see moral relativism as a good or bad thing? Is it totally good or bad, or is it only partially so? Explain.
David Derezotes, Cynthia Kurtz
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