Putnam and Campbell in WSJ on Islam and Tolerance

August 12, 2011
By tomsander

Note: Paperback edition of American Grace out in January/February 2011 with all new epilogue on the findings of our Faith Matters 2011 religion survey.

Excerpt from WSJ Op-Ed by Putnam and Campbell: “What’s the path to religious acceptance in America—and what can Muslims, Mormons and Buddhists learn from Jews and Catholics?

“A Gallup report out last week found that, of all major religious groups in America, Muslims are the most optimistic about their future. When asked what they think their lives will be like in five years, Muslims see themselves as having a better life than do members of any other religious group. They are also most likely to say that their community is getting better as a place to live.

“Why is such optimism warranted even though Muslims are also the religious group most likely to report experiencing discrimination?

“Consider the experience of two groups that are perceived positively by Americans today: Jews and Catholics. Americans rate Jews and Catholics more warmly than they do mainline Protestants, historically America’s religious establishment, and evangelical Protestants, the single largest religious group in the country. At the end of the scale opposite Jews and Catholics are Muslims, Mormons and Buddhists.

“There was once a time when Jews and Catholics faced greater hostility than Muslims (and certainly Mormons and Buddhists) do today, even including mob violence. The accusations commonly leveled against Jews and Catholics—all the way up to the 1960s—should sound familiar. Among other things, their religions were said to be incompatible with America’s democratic system of government, their adherents beholden to foreign influences.

“While anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism have not been completely extinguished, today examples of such bigotry are the exception and not the rule. Jews and Catholics have firmly secured a place in America’s kaleidoscope of religions. Over the last generation, Americans have built a society in which interreligious friendships and even marriages have quietly become the norm.”

Read rest of Aug. 12, 2011 WSJ Op-Ed here.



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