A new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life debunks the classic meme of intolerant religious believers.
For example, 70 percent of Americans affiliated with a religion or denomination said they agreed that “many religions can lead to eternal life,” including majorities among Protestants and Catholics.
The findings seem to undercut the conventional wisdom that the more religiously committed people are, the more intolerant they are, scholars who reviewed the survey said.
“It’s not that Americans don’t believe in anything,” said Michael Lindsay, assistant director of the Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life at Rice University. “It’s that we believe in everything. We aren’t religious purists or dogmatists.”
I know I tread lightly out here in the blogosphere whenever I raise the issue of spirituality. However, I am convinced that part of the great transformation that must take place in American society–away from a wasteful marketing driven consumption machine that seeks to fill your emptiness at the mall, towards a notion of stewardship of our precious planet–has a spiritual component to it. You don’t have to worship at a church to believe that there is a higher purpose to our life than just “dying with the most toys.” The Pew findings report that people who call themselves spiritual, by large majorities favor government help for the poor, stricter environmental laws and use of diplomacy rather than military strength as a way to ensure peace.
Between 2010 and 2020 America will have a chance to reinvent herself. I believe there are only two possible routes out of our current political impasse I call The Interregnum. One I call Fortress America and the other I call The New Federalism. Fortress America is a centralized, top down, security conscious country-fearful of terrorists, immigrants and the poor. It is a country of gated communities and private security guards, where the gulf between rich and poor enter the level of Rio or Mumbai. The New Federalism is a bottom-up re-imagination of Thomas Jefferson’s earliest notions of America’s unique destiny-where transparency and distributed power (political and electrical) transform our environment, our schools and our approach to the rest of the world. The opportunity to create a world of peace, freedom and sustainability is offered up to us. The tools and technologies are already invented. It will take a certain measure of faith to get there.