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Religious pluralism, to paraphrase the title of a recent academic work, goes beyond mere toleration. Chris Beneke, in Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism, explains the difference between religious tolerance and religious pluralism by pointing to the situation in the late 18th century United States. By the 1730s, in most colonies religious minorities had obtained what contemporaries called religious toleration: "The policy of toleration relieved religious minorities of some physical punishments and some financial burdens, but it did not make them free from the indignities of prejudice and exclusion. Nor did it make them equal. Those 'tolerated' could still be barred from civil offices, military positions, and university posts." In short, religious toleration is only the absence of religious persecution, and does not necessarily preclude religious discrimination. However, in the following decades something extraordinary happened in the Thirteen Colonies, at least if one views the events from "a late eighteenth-century perspective". Gradually the colonial governments expanded the policy of religious toleration, but then, between the 1760s and the 1780s, they replaced it with "something that is usually called religious liberty". Mark Silka, in "Defining Religious Pluralism in America: A Regional Analysis", states that Religious pluralism "enables a country made up of people of different faiths to exist without sectarian warfare or the persecution of religious minorities. Understood differently in different times and places, it is a cultural construct that embodies some shared conception of how a country's various religious communities relate to each other and to the larger nation whole." 
Religious pluralism can be defined as "respecting the otherness of others" and accepting the given uniqueness endowed to each one of us.
Freedom of religion encompasses all religions acting within the law in a particular region, whether or not an individual religion accepts that other religions are legitimate or that freedom of religious choice and religious plurality in general are good things. Exclusivist religions teach that theirs is the only way to salvation and to religious truth, and some of them would even argue that it is necessary to suppress the falsehoods taught by other religions. Some Protestant sects argue fiercely against Roman Catholicism, and fundamentalist Christians of all kinds teach that religious practices like those of paganism and witchcraft are pernicious. This was a common historical attitude prior to the Enlightenment, and has appeared as governmental policy into the present day under systems like Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which destroyed the ancient Buddhas of Bamyan.
Many religious believers believe that religious pluralism should entail not competition but cooperation, and argue that societal and theological change is necessary to overcome religious differences between different religions, and denominational conflicts within the same religion. For most religious traditions, this attitude is essentially based on a non-literal view of one's religious traditions, hence allowing for respect to be engendered between different traditions on fundamental principles rather than more marginal issues. It is perhaps summarized as an attitude which rejects focus on immaterial differences, and instead gives respect to those beliefs held in common.
Giving one religion or denomination special rights that are denied to others can weaken religious pluralism. This situation obtains in certain European countries, where Roman Catholicism or regional forms of Protestantism have special status. For example see the entries on the Lateran Treaty and Church of England.
Relativism, the belief that all religions are equal in their value and that none of the religions gives access to absolute truth, is an extreme form of inclusivism. Likewise, syncretism, the attempt to take over creeds of practices from other religions or even to blend practices or creeds from different religions into one new faith is an extreme form of inter-religious dialogue. Syncretism must not be confused with ecumenism, the attempt to bring closer and eventually reunite different denominations of one religion that have a common origin but were separated by a schism.
Religious pluralism is sometimes used as a synonym for interfaith dialogue. Interfaith dialogue refers to dialogue between members of different religions for the goal of reducing conflicts between their religions and to achieve agreed upon mutually desirable goals. Inter-religious dialogue is difficult if the partners adopt a position of particularism, i.e. if they only care about the concerns of their own group, but is favored by the opposite attitude of universalism, where care is taken for the concerns of others. Interfaith dialogue is easier if a religion's adherents have some form of inclusivism, the belief that people in other religions may also have a way to salvation, even though the fullness of salvation can be achieved only in one’s own religion. Conversely, believers with an exclusivist mindset will rather tend to proselytize followers of other religions, than seek an open-ended dialogue with them.
Bahá'u'lláh, founder of Bahá'í Faith, urged the elimination of religious intolerance. He taught that God is one, and has manifested himself to humanity through several historic messengers. Bahá'u'lláh taught that Bahá'ís must associate with peoples of all religions, showing the love of God in relations with them, whether this is reciprocated or not.
Bahá'í's refer to the concept of Progressive revelation, which means that God's will is revealed to mankind progressively as mankind matures and is better able to comprehend the purpose of God in creating humanity. In this view, God's word is revealed through a series of messengers: Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, and Bahá'u'lláh (the founder of the Bahá'í Faith) among them. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán (Book of Certitude), Bahá'u'lláh explains that messengers of God have a twofold station, one of divinity and one of an individual. According to Bahá'í writings, there will not be another messenger for many hundreds of years. There is also a respect for the religious traditions of the native peoples of the planet who may have little other than oral traditions as a record of their religious figures.
In the Brahmajala Sutta, the Buddha is recorded as stating that the teachings of other sects of his day were based on one or more of 62 erroneous theories, and that falling into those errors would prevent attaining permanent liberation from suffering:
Bhikkus, there are countless philosophies, doctrines, and theories in this world. People criticize each other and argue endlessly over their theories. According to my investigation, there are sixty-two main theories which underlie the thousands of philosophies and religions current in our world. Looked at from the Way of Enlightenment and Emancipation, all sixty-two of these theories contain errors and create obstacles… A good fisherman places his net in the water and catches all the shrimp and fish he can. As he watches the creatures try to leap out of the net, he tells them, ‘No matter how high you jump, you will only land in the net again.’ He is correct. The thousands of beliefs flourishing at present can all be found in the net of these sixty-two theories. Bhikkus, don’t fall into that bewitching net. You will only waste time and lose your chance to practice the Way of Enlightenment.
The earliest reference to Buddhist views on religious pluralism in a political sense is found in the Edicts of Emperor Ashoka:
All religions should reside everywhere, for all of them desire self-control and purity of heart. Rock Edict Nb7 (S. Dhammika)
Contact (between religions) is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions. Rock Edict Nb12 (S. Dhammika)
When asked, "Don’t all religions teach the same thing? Is it possible to unify them?" the Dalai Lama said:
People from different traditions should keep their own, rather than change. However, some Tibetan may prefer Islam, so he can follow it. Some Spanish prefer Buddhism; so follow it. But think about it carefully. Don’t do it for fashion. Some people start Christian, follow Islam, then Buddhism, then nothing.
In the United States I have seen people who embrace Buddhism and change their clothes! Like the New Age. They take something Hindu, something Buddhist, something, something… That is not healthy.
For individual practitioners, having one truth, one religion, is very important. Several truths, several religions, is contradictory.
I am Buddhist. Therefore, Buddhism is the only truth for me, the only religion. To my Christian friend, Christianity is the only truth, the only religion. To my Muslim friend, [Islam] is the only truth, the only religion. In the meantime, I respect and admire my Christian friend and my Muslim friend. If by unifying you mean mixing, that is impossible, useless.
Ancient Greeks employed Interpretatio Graeca whereby the gods of other religions were equated with those of their own pantheon. The Romans easily accomplished this task by subsuming the entire set of gods from other faiths into their own religion. This was done on rare occasion by adding a new god to their own pantheon; on most occasions they identified another religion's gods with their own.
Because divinity was the basis for the mandate of the state, atheism was considered a capital crime in both ancient Greece and Rome. This was further solidified as the status quo following the installation of the Roman imperial cult of deification of sitting emperors, and Roman pluralism was not officially extended to Christianity until the Edict of Milan in 313 CE.
Some Christians have argued that religious pluralism is an invalid or self-contradictory concept. Maximal forms of religious pluralism claim that all religions are equally true, or that one religion can be true for some and another for others. Some Christians hold this idea to be logically impossible from the Principle of contradiction.
Other Christians have held that there can be truth value and salvific value in other faith traditions. John Macquarrie, described in the Handbook of Anglican Theologians (1998) as "unquestionably Anglicanism's most distinguished systematic theologian in the second half of the twentieth century", wrote that "there should be an end to proselytizing but that equally there should be no syncretism of the kind typified by the Baha'i movement" (p. 2). In discussing 9 founders of major faith traditions (Moses, Zoroaster, Lao-zu, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Krishna, Jesus, and Muhammad), which he called "mediators between the human and the divine", Macquarrie wrote that:
I do not deny for a moment that the truth of God has reached others through other channels - indeed, I hope and pray that it has. So while I have a special attachment to one mediator, I have respect for them all. (p. 12)
Before the Great Schism, mainstream Christianity confessed "one holy catholic and apostolic church", in the words of the Nicene Creed. Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Episcopalians and most Protestant Christian denominations still maintain this belief.
Church unity was something very visible and tangible, and schism was just as serious an offense as heresy. Following the Great Schism, Roman Catholicism sees and recognizes the Orthodox Sacraments as valid. Eastern Orthodoxy does not have the concept of "validity" when applied to Sacraments, but it considers the form of Roman Catholic Sacraments to be acceptable, if still devoid of actual spiritual content. Both generally regard each other as "heterodox" and "schismatic", while continuing to recognize each other as Christian. (See ecumenicism).
Some Protestants hold that only believers which believe in certain fundamental doctrines know the true pathway to salvation. The core of this doctrine is that Jesus Christ was a perfect man, is the Son of God and that he died and rose again for the wrongdoing of those who will accept the gift of salvation. They continue to believe in "one" church, believing in fundamental issues there is unity and non-fundamental issues there is liberty. Some evangelicals are doubtful if the Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy are still valid manifestations of the Church and usually reject religious (typically restorationist) movements rooted in 19th century American Christianity, such as Mormonism, Christian Science, or Jehovah's Witnesses as not distinctly Christian. See here
Hinduism is naturally pluralistic. A well-known Rig Vedic hymn says: "Truth is One, though the sages know it variously" (Ékam sat vipra bahudā vadanti). Similarly, in the Bhagavad Gītā (4:11), God, manifesting as an incarnation, states: "As people approach me, so I receive them. All paths lead to me" (ye yathā māṃ prapadyante tāṃs tathāiva bhajāmyaham mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ). The Hindu religion has no theological difficulties in accepting degrees of truth in other religions. Hinduism emphasizes that everyone actually worships the same God, whether one knows it or not. Just as Hindus worshiping Ganesh is seen as valid by those worshiping Vishnu, so someone worshiping Jesus or Allah is accepted. Many foreign deities become assimilated into Hinduism, and some Hindus may sometimes offer prayers to Jesus along with their traditional forms of God.
Reference to Islamic views on religious pluralism is found in the Quran. The following verses are generally interpreted as an evidence of religious pluralism:
Surah Al-Ma'idah verse 48 states:
If Allah so willed, he would have made you a single People, but his plan is to test each of you separately, in what He has given to each of you: so strive in all virtues as in you are in a race. The goal of all of you is to Allah. It is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute. (Quran 5:48)
Surah Al-Ankabut verse 46 states:
And dispute not with the People of the Book, except with means better than mere disputation, unless I be with those of them who inflict wrong and injury, but say to them: "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our God and your God is one; and it is to Him that we bow." (Quran 29:46)
"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands outs clear from Error." (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:256)
"If they charge you with falsehood, say: 'For me are my deeds and for you are your deeds! You are free from responsibility for what I do, and I for what you do.'" (Surah Yunus 10:41)
"Say, 'The Truth is from your Lord. Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject (it).'" (Surah Al-Kahf 18:29)
"To you (non-believers) be your Way (Religion), and to me mine." (Surah Al-Kafirun 109:6)
The Quran criticizes Christians and Jews who believed that their own religions are the only source of Truth.
They say, if you want to be guided to salvation, you should either become a Jew or Christian. Say: What about the religion of Abraham, he also worshiped no one but Allah. We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, to Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes of Israel, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah. So, if they believe, they are indeed on the right path, but if they turn back, Allah will suffice them, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. This is the Baptism of Allah. And who can baptize better than Allah. And it is He Whom we worship. Say: Will you dispute with us about Allah, He is our Lord and your Lord; that we are responsible for our doings and you for yours; and that We are sincere in Him? Or do ye say that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do ye know better than Allah? Ah! who is more unjust than those who conceal the testimony they have from Allah. But Allah is not unmindful of what ye do! That was a people that hath passed away. They shall reap the fruit of what they did, and ye of what ye do! Of their merits there is no question in your case. (Quran 2:135-141)
Surah Al-Baqara verse 113 states:
The Jews say: "The Christians have nothing to stand upon"; and the Christians say: "The Jews have nothing to stand upon." Yet they both have something to stand upon, they both recite the Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but Allah will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment. (Quran 2:113)
Many Muslims agree that cooperation with the Christian and Jewish community is important but some Muslims believe that theological debate is often unnecessary:
Say: "O People of the Book! Come to what is common between us and you: That we worship none but God, that we associate no partners with Him, that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords other than Allah. If then they turn back, say: 'Bear witness that we are bowing to Allah’s will.'" (Quran 3:64)
Islam's fundamental theological concept is belief in one God. Muslims are not expected to visualize God but to worship and adore him as a protector. Any kind of idolatry is condemned in Islam. (Quran 112:2) As a result, Muslims hold that for someone to worship any other gods or deities other than Allah (Shirk (polytheism)) is a sin that will lead to separation from Allah.
Muslims believe that Allah sent the Qur'an to bring peace and harmony to humanity through Islam (submission to Allah). Muhammad's worldwide mission was to establish universal peace under the Khilafat.
The Khilafat ensured security of the lives and property of non-Muslims under the dhimmi system.
This status was originally only made available to non-Muslims who were "People of the Book" (Christians, Jews, and Sabians), but was later extended to include Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Hindus, Mandeans (Sabians) and Buddhists.
Dhimmi had more rights than other non-Muslim religious subjects, but often fewer legal and social rights than Muslims. Some Muslims, however, disagree, and hold that adherents of these faiths cannot be dhimmi.
Dhimmi enjoyed some freedoms under the state founded by Muhammad and could practice their religious rituals according to their faith and beliefs.
The Sufis were practitioners of the esoteric mystic traditions within an Islam at a certain point. Sufism is defined by the Sufi master or Pir (Sufism) or fakeer or Wali in the language of the people by dancing and singing and incorporating various philosophies, theologies, ideologies and religions together (e.g., Christiainity, Judaism, Paganism, Platonism, Zorostrainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and so forth with time). Famous Sufi masters are Rumi, Shadhili, Sheikh Farid, Bulleh Shah, Shah Hussain, Shams Tabrizi, Waris Shah, Ghazali, Mian Mir, Attar of Nishapur, Amir Khusrow, Salim Chishti. See many more famous Sufis at the List of Sufis. The Sufis were considered by many to have divine revelations with messages of peace, tolerance, equality, pluarism, love for all and hate for no one, humanitarians, philosophers, psychologists and much more. Many had the teaching if you want to change the world, change yourself and you will change the whole world. The views of the Sufi poets, philosophers and theologians have inspired multiple forms of modern day academia as well as philosophers of other religions. See also Blind men and an elephant.
Persian poet Rumi says:
I looked for God. I went to a temple, and I didn't find him there. Then I went to a church, and I didn't find him there. And then I went to a mosque, and I didn't find him there. And then finally I looked in my heart, and there he was.
Rumi also says:
How many paths are there to God? There are as many paths to God as there are souls on the Earth.
Rumi also says:
A true Lover doesn't follow any one religion, be sure of that. Since in the religion of Love, there is no irreverence or faith. When in Love, body, mind, heart and soul don't even exist. Become this, fall in Love, and you will not be separated again.
The Sufi platform was considered by exoteric dogmatic Muslims as a trojan horse ideology executing doctrine of deception (see Taqiyya) to convert others while others considered it outright heresy, blasphemy, innovation (biddah), kuffar, apostasy, haram. Many Sufis have gone under persecutions and executions for apostasy and treason charges at which point many tended to have supernatural events taking place similar to Jesus crucifixion. For example, many Sufis throughout their lives display religious healing, miracles and supernatural events which seem as if God has connected with the Sufis similar to the Vedic and Buddhist enlightenment. For more details see Fana (Sufism), Baqaa, Yaqeen, Kashf, Manzil, Haqiqa, Sufi metaphysics, Sufi philosophy.
Ahmadis recognize many founders of world religions to be from God, who all brought teaching and guidance from God to all peoples. According to the Ahmadiyya understanding of the Quran, every nation in the history of mankind has been sent a prophet, as the Quran states: And there is a guide for every people. Though the Quran mentions only 24 prophets, the founder of Islam, Muhammad states that the world has seen 124,000 prophets. Thus other than the prophets mentioned in the Quran, Ahmadis, with support from theological study also recognize Buddha, Krishna, founders of Chinese religions to be divinely appointed individuals.
The Second Khalifatul Maish of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community writes: "According to this teaching there has not been a single people at any time in history or anywhere in the world who have not had a warner from God, a teacher, a prophet. According to the Quran there have been prophets at all times and in all countries. India, China, Russia, Afghanistan, parts of Africa, Europe, America—all had prophets according to the theory of divine guidance taught by the Quran. When, therefore, Muslims hear about prophets of other peoples or other countries, they do not deny them. They do not brand them as liars. Muslims believe that other peoples have had their teachers. If other peoples have had prophets, books, and laws, these constitute no difficulty for Islam."
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community wrote in his book A Message of Peace: "Our God has never discriminated between one people and another. This is illustrated by the fact that all the potentials and capabilities (Prophets) which have been granted to the Aryans (Hindus) have also been granted to the races inhabiting Arabia, Persia, Syria, China, Japan, Europe and America." 
Anekāntavāda, the principle of relative pluralism, is one of the basic principles of Jainism. In this view, the truth or the reality is perceived differently from different points of view, and no single point of view is the complete truth. Jain doctrine states that an object has infinite modes of existence and qualities and they cannot be completely perceived in all its aspects and manifestations, due to inherent limitations of the humans. Only the Kevalins—the omniscient beings—can comprehend the object in all its aspects and manifestations, and all others are capable of knowing only a part of it. Consequently, no one view can claim to represent the absolute truth. Jains compare all attempts to proclaim absolute truth with andhgajnyaya or the "maxim of the blind men and elephant", wherein all the blind men claimed to explain the true appearance of the elephant, but could only partly succeed due to their narrow perspective.
The Sikh Gurus (religious leaders) have propagated the message of "many paths" leading to the one God and ultimate salvation for all souls who treading on the path of righteousness. They have supported the view that proponents of all faiths can, by doing good and virtuous deeds and by remembering the Lord can certainly achieve salvation. Students of the Sikh faith are told to accept all leading faiths as possible vehicles for attaining spiritual enlightenment, provided the faithful study, ponder and practice the teachings of their prophets and leaders. Sikhism had many interactions with Sufism as well as Hinduism, influenced them and was influenced by them. See Islam and Sikhism and Hinduism and Sikhism.
Do not say that the Vedas and the Koran (semetic books i.e. Bible, Torah and Q'uran) are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false. (Guru Granth Sahib page 1350)
As well as:
Some call the Lord "Ram, Ram", and some "Khuda". Some serve Him as "Gusain", others as "Allah". He is the Cause of causes, and Generous. He showers His Grace and Mercy upon us. Some pilgrims bathe at sacred shrines, others go on Hajj to Mecca. Some do devotional worship, whilst others bow their heads in prayer. Some read the Vedas, and some the Koran. Some wear blue robes, and some wear white. Some call themselves Muslim, and some call themselves Hindu. Some yearn for paradise, and others long for heaven. Says Nanak, one who realizes the Hukam of God's Will, knows the secrets of his Lord Master. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Page:885)
One who recognizes that all spiritual paths lead to the One shall be emancipated. One who speaks lies shall fall into hell and burn. In all the world, the most blessed and sanctified are those who remain absorbed in Truth. (SGGS Ang 142)
The seconds, minutes, and hours, days, weeks and months and various seasons originate from One Sun; O nanak, in just the same way, the many forms originate from the Creator. (Guru Granth Sahib page 12,13)
The Guru Granth Sahib also says that Bhagat Namdev and Bhagat Kabir, who were both believed to be Hindus, both attained salvation though they were born before Sikhism took root and were clearly not Sikhs.This highlights and reinforces the Guru's saying that "peoples of other faiths" can join with God as true and also at the same time signify that Sikhism is not the exclusive path for liberation.
Additionally the Guru Granth Sahib says:
First, Allah (God) created the Light; then, by His Creative Power, He made all mortal beings. From the One Light, the entire universe welled up. So who is good, and who is bad? ||1|| 
Again, the Guru Granth Sahib provides this verse:
Naam Dayv the printer, and Kabeer the weaver, obtained salvation through the Perfect Guru. Those who know God and recognize His Shabad ("word") lose their ego and class consciousness. (Guru Granth Sahib page 67)
Most of the 15 Sikh Bhagats who are mentioned in their holy book were non-Sikhs and belonged to Hindu and Muslim faiths, which were the most prevalent religions of this region.
The pluralistic dialogue of Sikhism began with the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak after becoming enlightened saying the words Na koi hindu na koi musalman - "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim". He recognised that religious labels held no value and it is the deeds of human that will be judged in the hereafter what we call ourselves religiously holds no value.
Sikhs have always being eager exponents of interfaith dialogue and will not only accept the right of other to practise their faith but have in the past fought and laid down their lives to protect this right for others. See the sacrifice of the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadar who on the final desperate and heart-rending pleas of the Kashmiri Pandit, agreed to put up a fight for their right to practise their religion in which he was executed so another religion besides his own could have the freedom to practice their religion against the tyrant moghul empire who were forcing people to accept Islam.
The concept of religious pluralism is also relevant to human service professions, such as psychology and social work, as well as medicine and nursing, in which trained professionals may interact with clients from diverse faith traditions. For example, psychologist Kenneth Pargament has described four possible stances toward client religious and spiritual beliefs, which he called rejectionist, exclusivist, constructivist, and pluralist. Unlike the constructivist stance, the pluralist stance:
...recognizes the existence of a religious or spiritual absolute reality but allows for multiple interpretations and paths toward it. In contrast to the exclusivist who maintains that there is a single path "up the mountain of God," the pluralist recognizes many paths as valid. Although both the exclusivist and the pluralist may agree on the existence of religious or spiritual reality, the pluralist recognizes that this reality is expressed in different cultures and by different people in different ways. Because humans are mortal and limited, a single human religious system cannot encompass all of the religious or spiritual absolute reality.... (p. 167)
Importantly, "the pluralistic therapist can hold personal religious beliefs while appreciating those of a client with different religious beliefs. The pluralist recognizes that religious value differences can and will exist between counselors and clients without adversely affecting therapy" (p. 168). The stances implied by these four helping orientations on several key issues, such as "should religious issues be discussed in counseling?", have also been presented in tabular form (p. 362, Table 12.1).
The profession of chaplaincy, a religious profession, must also deal with issues of pluralism and the relevance of a pluralistic stance. For example, Friberg (2001) argues: "With growing populations of immigrants and adherents of religions not previously seen in significant numbers in North America, spiritual care must take religion and diversity seriously. Utmost respect for the residents' spiritual and religious histories and orientations is imperative" (p. 182).
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