What helps and hinders the development of tolerant societies

Regarding Rushworth Kidder's June 12 Opinion piece, "Helping young Muslims not to hate": I am very grateful that the Monitor chose to run a piece on the work of the Interfaith Youth Core; however, I am deeply offended at the inaccurate headline.

While the content of Dr. Kidder's column was excellent, the title given by the Monitor implies that the majority of young Muslims in the world are fed on a diet of hate. Not only is this patently false, this inaccuracy contributes to irrational fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims, a phenomenon known as Islamophobia.

Islamophobia has risen dramatically in the United States over the past five years. It is a serious problem that impacts everything from the well-being of Muslim children to the stability of global politics to the civic fabric of the United States – the most religiously diverse country on the planet.
Eboo Patel
Founder and Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core

I read with keen interest and slight dismay the positions put forth by Rushworth Kidder in his June 12 Opinion piece.

The content of Mr. Kidder's piece is completely germane to the turmoil the US finds itself currently entangled in around the globe.

But why do he and Eboo Patel, about whom Kidder is writing, seem to be apologists for the very same religious institutions fomenting this ill will and global discontent?

Does the tolerance afforded to religious diversity in the United States and other developed, westernized, democratic nations have to do with a set of core values shared by different faiths? I think not.

Countries ruled by theocratic regimes epitomize intolerance and lack the core values alluded to in the piece.

Conversely, the United States, Canada, and liberal Western European democracies are governed by the rule of law. The rule of law, democratic institutions, and secular traditions are the cornerstones of religious tolerance.

The fickle whims of populist opinion, religious fervor, and social movements all ebb and flow in nations that adhere to the rule of law. And ultimately, the rule of law always remains relatively tolerant and consistent.

Therefore, religious diversity and the promulgation of values and other facets of religious faith can all coexist – protected and sustained by steadfast institutional protections.

Maybe Kidder should give credit for what fosters tolerance where credit is actually due.
Eric J. Mettes
Dexter, Mich.

In response to Rushworth Kidder's June 12 Opinion piece: The population of the United States possesses an overwhelmingly Christian heritage and is not as religiously diverse as Mr. Kidder's piece suggests.

Although there are a lot of different denominations in the US, the diversity is mostly Protestant diversity.

The US Jewish population is just around 2 percent. The majority of our immigrants, even from Asia, are Christian. And Mexicans are usually Catholic.

We are not like Europe with its large Muslim populations in several countries. So Kidder's claim that America is "the most religiously diverse country in the world" but that somehow we do a great job of being religiously tolerant is not entirely true.

Europe faces far more serious problems with religion because Islam is more prevalent and is not part of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Pamela Wolf
Torrance, Calif.

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