Religious Pluralism and Multiculturalism

Religious pluralism has become the banner of Reform and Conservative Jews. These Jews have joined forces with secularists in Israel who are trying to diminish if not nullify the political power of the Orthodox.

This is not simply a sectarian or partisan conflict. For pluralism, properly understood, is a philosophical doctrine that denies objective truth or standards by which to determine whether the values or way of life of one individual, group, or nation is intrinsically preferable to that of another.

Religious pluralism therefore undermines belief in the Sinai Covenant, and this has profound consequences for Israel’s ability to persevere in the Islamic Middle East.

Pluralism, as defined above, conforms to multiculturalism, the secular religion of post-Christian Europe. In fact, multiculturalism is eroding the ethnic heritage of various European countries, in danger of succumbing to Arab culture or Islamic imperialism.

Multiculturalism is also gaining ascendancy in America, in the Democratic Party and in at least hundreds of colleges and universities. President-elect Barack Obama, a disciple of multiculturalism, has said that America is not a Christian country. The door has been opened to Islam. Hundreds of mosques are preaching hatred of America. Indeed, anti-Americanism is rampant among college and university professors.

The ascendancy of religious pluralism-cum-multiculturalism in Israel would obviously dissolve the country’s Jewish character. It would generate legislation affecting Sabbath observance, dietary laws, marriage, and the very question of who is a Jew.

Multiculturalism dominates Israel’s government. President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, and the ubiquitous former Chief Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court Aharon Barak are all multiculturalists.

Is it any wonder that the so-called Jewish State Israel can now boast of an Association for Secular Humanistic Judaism composed of unabashed atheists? These “humanists” seem to accept the logic of Dostoyevsky’s remark, “If G-d does not exist, everything is permissible,” including gay marriages, releasing Arab terrorists, brutalizing Jewish woman and children, and yielding the Temple Mount to Arab thugs.

What about the attitude of Israel’s Muslim population toward such liberal ideas as religious pluralism and multiculturalism? To answer this question, let me quote from Sir Charles Eliot’s Turkey in Europe, published in 1908. Eliot recounts a conversation with a Turkish vali, a provincial governor.

“Once,” said the vali, “I was a very young man, and went for a ride with my old father. I was foolish then, and my head was stuffed with silly notions and liberal ideas… I told my father we ought to reform our constitution, systematize our administration … introduce liberal ideas, and imitate Europeans. And my old father answered never a word.

“So we road on along the banks of the Bosphorus. At last we came to a village around which were many pigs. Then my father said to me: ‘My son, what seest thou?’ I replied, ‘Pigs, my father.’ ‘My son,’ he said, ‘are they all similar in size and color, or do they differ?’ ‘They differ, my father. There are big pigs and little pigs, white pigs and black pigs, brown pigs and mottled pigs.’ ‘But are all of them swine, my son?’ ‘All, my father.’ ‘My son,’ he said, ‘it is with the Europeans as with the pigs. There are big Europeans and little Europeans, Russian Europeans and English Europeans, French Europeans and German Europeans; they are all of them swine; and so he who wishes to imitate Europeans wishes to wallow with swine in the mire.’

“I was very young then, and my brain was full of nonsense—so I thought my father was a fool. But now that my own beard is getting grey—by G-d, I think the old gentleman was right!”



Apropos of my article “Religious Pluralism and Multiculturalism,” an epilogue is in order to avoid misunderstanding:

Properly understood, a Torah community tolerates serous diversity of opinion. Leaving aside examples of how the Prophets of Israel excoriated various kings of Israel, a dissenting member of the Sanhedrin can continue to teach his opinion even though it contradicts the Sanhedrin’s ruling, so long as he does not advocate disobedience of the law.

Further, the power of Israel's Supreme Court, especially under the dictum “everything is justiciable,” infinitely exceeds the powers of the Sanhedrin.

Moreover, freedom of speech is gradually being subverted in America, for example under “hate crime” legislation. Meanwhile, freedom of the press has become a travesty, as witness how the media, during the presidential campaign, printed hardly a word about Barack Obama’s unsavory past associations and questionable American citizenship.

Finally, the ratio of liberal/leftist to conservative faculty at American colleges and universities averages 10 to 1. At Berkeley it's 30 to 1. Thought-control is thriving in pluralistic America, primarily on campuses permeated by moral and cultural relativism, the doctrinal source of multiculturalism.

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