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Presidential Address 2003: The Challenge of Diversity

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New immigration and global communication have greatly increased the cultural presence of non-Western religions in the United States. More Americans currently practice Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism than ever before, and many more Americans are exposed to these religions through television, travel, higher education, and contacts in school or at work. I examine the implications of this increasing religious diversity for the study of American religion. I begin by distinguishing diversity as a descriptive concept from pluralism as a normative one. I then consider the importance of understanding such practical concerns as religious intolerance and adaptation to diversity, after which I discuss the intellectual and normative challenges posed for a scholarship historically indebted to Christianity that must now seek to understand the relationships among major religious traditions in broader terms.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Princeton University

Publication date: June 1, 2004


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