I’m convinced religious pluralism is a good thing. When institutionalized religion has a monopoly on the faith, beliefs and practices of people in a society, unjust laws are often put into place and human rights are often curtailed. Religious ideology is sometimes unfairly marginalizing to those outside the status quo (please note the overuse of qualifiers—this isn’t a swipe at religion). As a member of a proselytizing faith, a religious tradition that I think is needed in the world, I often ponder the need for proselytizing (and indeed the commandment to proselytize) against the necessity of religious pluralism for a good and just society. I am convinced embracing and encouraging religious pluralism will not only will bring about the best outcomes for the future of our world, but will also help believers grow nearer to God as they learn from those outside of their own religious tradition and grow in understanding of who God is, how he works, and who we are as His children. So indulge me for a moment and consider the following.
What would happen if the entire world adhered to the Mormon faith? What if we were all Mormons? Let’s assume this happened the old-fashioned-listened-to-the-discussions-and-got-baptized way, admitting social pressure/social capital was a factor for much of the world population. What laws would change? Drinking Laws? Porn laws? Would essential freedoms be curtailed? Or is there enough diversity within any religious group that not much would change? Could there be any good outcome(s)?
[Bummer! Youtube clip involving Gary Lawrence, Richard Bushman and another guy removed for violation of copyright. I won’t attempt to misquote or mis-paraphrase their words. The main idea I found intriguing was that when Jesus speaks to his followers about being the salt of the earth in Matthew and elsewhere—the analogy of salt comes with implications. A little salt goes along way. We wouldn’t want too much salt—too much salt doesn’t taste good, but instead ruins the whole dish. There is much good in the world and lots of good people. Hopefully those of us who self-identify as the salt of the earth or the leaven, etc will recognize in part our opportunity to magnify the good in others, and in other faiths, not homogenize the globe. ]
(While one obvious example of law and policy if the world was Mormon would be that of same-sex marriage, and of course it is apropos to this discussion, it would be regrettable if the entire discussion devolved into a discuttion about SSM. So let’s just get that out of the way and say that this is an obvious example and move on.)