Today, and historically, religions often seem to be intolerant, narrow-minded, and zealous. But the record is not so one-sided. In "Religious Tolerance in World Religions," numerous scholars offer perspectives on the "what" and "why" traditions of tolerance in world religions, beginning with the pre-Christian West, Greco-Roman paganism, and ancient Israelite Monotheism and moving into modern religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. By tolerance the authors mean "the capacity to live with religious difference, and by toleration, the theory that permits a majority religion to accommodate the presence of a minority religion."
The volume is introduced with a summary of a recent survey that sought to identify the capacity of religions to tolerate one another in theory and in practice. Eleven religious communities in seven nations were polled on questions that ranged from equality of religious practitioners to consequences of disobedience. The essays frame the provocative analysis of how a religious system in its political statement produces categories of tolerance that can be explained in that system's logical context. Past and present beliefs, practices, and definitions of social order are examined in terms of how they support tolerance for other religious groups as a matter of public policy.
"Religious Tolerance in World Religions" focuses attention on the attitude "that the 'infidel' or non-believer may be accorded an honorable position within the social order defined by Islam or Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism, and so on." It is a timely reference for colleges and universities and for makers of public policy.