“Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise” by Eboo Patel— America’s Religious Diversity

Patel, Eboo. “Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise”, (Our Compelling Interests), Princeton University Press, 2018.

America’s Religious Diversity

Amos Lassen

“America is the most religiously devout country in the Western world and the most religiously diverse nation on the planet.” Eboo Patel asks how is it that in today’s volatile climate of religious conflict, prejudice, and distrust, how are we able to affirm the principle that the American promise is part of how each of us engages with people of different faiths and beliefs? Patel who is the former faith adviser to Barack Obama and has been named one of America’s best leaders by U.S. News & World Report, answers that question in “Out of Many Faiths”.

He draws on his personal experience as a Muslim in America to look at broader questions about the importance of religious diversity in the cultural, political, and economic life of the nation. We see how religious language has given the United States some of its most enduring symbols and inspired many of its most vital civic institutions. Patel shows us that—“the genius of the American experiment lies in its empowerment of people of all creeds, ethnicities yet he asks two basic questions about the future. Now that America has citizens of different backgrounds, will these grow in numbers and influence? In what ways will minority religious communities themselves change as they take root in American soil? In addressing these and other questions, we see how America’s promise is the guarantee of equal rights and dignity for all, and how that promise is the foundation of America’s unrivaled strength as a nation. We also have here commentaries by John Inazu, Robert Jones, and Laurie Patton on American civil religion, faith and law, and the increasing number of nonreligious Americans.

Patel gives us “a vision of pluralism that aims to guard against religious preference and particularism, advances everyday ethics, and invites Americans of many religious persuasions into civic participation. . . .” During a critical time, Patel continues his active work building bridges between cultures and religions. He pays attention to his own experience and is not afraid to say what he thinks. His book documents America’s commitment to religious pluralism from Jefferson, Franklin, and Washington to Barack Obama and then questions what it will take for this to continue as this country becomes more diverse than ever.

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