Fragmentation of religious belief

Visualization of narrower problems
Disunity of religions
Lack of unity among religions
Religious disunity
Undifferentiated religious pluralism
Multiplicity of religions
Separateness of faiths
Mutual disparagement between religions
Division between religions and within a single religion results in intolerance, discrimination, prejudice, conflict, and sometimes war.
Severe divisions exist between many of the world's major religions and between sects and denominations within one religion. Religious war resulting from these divisions can be seen in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and India, for example.

The successes of an international Christian-Buddhist seminar in 1994 were significantly undermined by the subsequent publication of a book by the Pope expressing views of Buddhism vehemently contested as disparaging by many Buddhist monks and teachers. This triggered perceptions of Christians as intolerant, arrogant and exclusivist.

1. The official pluralist too often finds ways to reduce real otherness and genuine differences to some homogenized sense of what is supposedly already known. Some pluralists, the vaunted defenders of difference, can become the great reductionists by reducing differences to mere similarity, reducing otherness to the same, and reducing plurality to their own community of right-thinking critics. In this light, there is truth in the charge that pluralism is the perfect ideology for the bourgeois mind.

2. There is a real danger of overindulging in plurality and diversity and so blinding ourselves to the conflict, injustice, or oppression that all too often lurks below the surface of such diversity. Within the plurality of cultures and religions, there is not only the exuberance of truth but also the din of conflict and ideological abuse.

3. A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today's most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another. On this understanding, everything is reduced to opinion; and there is a sense of being adrift. (Papal Encyclical, Fides et Ratio, 14 September 1998).

4. Christians know that their unity will be truly rediscovered only if it is based on the unity of their faith. They must resolve considerable discrepancies of doctrine concerning the mystery and ministry of the Church, and sometimes also concerning the role of Mary in the work of salvation.(75) The dialogues begun by the Catholic Church with the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West(76) are steadily converging upon these two inseparable aspects of the same mystery of salvation. (Papal Encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, 25 March 1987).

1. Religious unity is more dangerous than disunity. When great masses of humanity, the nation-states, embrace one theistic or 'spiritual' creed with all its paraphernalia of a priori conclusions about reality deduced from the God-hypothesis, their civilization freezes into a static shell, a lifeless societal geometry of relations. Typically it is symbolized by some emblem they raise. It may be a circle, crescent or straight lines crossed or joined, or elaborate combinations of these, but it is as artificial as the religious unity-in-ignorance it represents. Religious dis-unity is the only way to preserve societal dynamism; its symbol is the tree or rainbow. Societies with religious disunity do not conduct inquisitions or burn heretics. They do encourage the exchange of ideas among those open to reason. As for the violent, without religion they would find still other reasons for their violence; religious pluralism is not its cause.

2. Pluralism is a responsible and fruitful option because it allows for (indeed demands) that we develop better ways as selves, as communities of inquirers, as societies, as cultures, as an inchoately global culture to allow for more possibilities to enrich our personal and communal lives.

3. In Christianity of old, religion was regarded as the chief principle of unity among peoples. Things are otherwise now. The cohesion of peoples which stems from the phenomenon of democratization promotes harmony among various spiritual families. "Pluralism," as it is called, is no longer viewed as an evil to be eliminated, but rather as a fact which must be taken into account; anyone can make his own decisions known without becoming or being regarded as alien to society. (Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, General Cathechetical Directory, 1971).

(F) Fuzzy exceptional problems