Religious Tolerance

lady-justice-1-mary-tere-perezThank you for visiting the Camden Civil Rights Project page on Religious Tolerance. Our archives contain a variety of informative print, audio and video materials which introduce individuals to the diverse religious landscape of our modern American society and explore its implications upon our civic, religious, and educational institutions. None of the major religious traditions advocate forced conversion. However, a lack of understanding of one’s own tradition, as well as unfamiliarity with that of another, often leads to irrational acts of religious intolerance. America was founded by individuals who left their homeland seeking to escape this type of religious and political persecution by the dominant class. Our mission is to educate individuals in the diversity of thought which has shaped our modern belief systems to dispel the misconceptions which promote intolerance and foster the freedom of conscience envisioned by the First Amendment. Archived articles can be accessed by clicking on the links below. Please feel free to use the comment section below to recommend materials and resources you believe will aid in our mission of promoting greater cultural and religious understanding. 


America’s True History of Religious Tolerance

by Kenneth C. Davis (Smithsonian Magazine)

Religious Intolerance in America

Anonymous Contributor (Opposing Views)

Terrorists are the Threat, Not Muslims

by L. Christopher Skufca (Camden Civil Rights Project)

The Last Sermon of Archbishop Oscar Romero

by L. Christopher Skufca (Camden Civil Rights Project)

Interfaith Dialogue and Higher Education

by S. Alan Ray (Elmhurst Collge)

Religion and Psychology: Complementary Disciplines or Competing Ideologies?

by L. Christopher Skufca (Camden Civil Rights Project)

Thomas Jefferson: The Progressive Libertarian

by L. Christopher Skufca (Camden Civil Rights Project)

Religious Tolerance: John Locke

by L. Christopher Skufca (Camden Civil Rights Project)


What Does It Mean to Be Me?

Synopsis: The words ‘know thyself’ – ‘gnothi seauton’ – were inscribed in stone above the Ancient Greek Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Philosophers have mused on self-knowledge and its uses ever since. But is it possible to ever ‘Know Thyself’? Psychologists, such as Bruce Hood, have even suggested that the self is an illusion and there may not be a self to know.

View the video HERE

Respect the Religious Beliefs of Others

Synopsis: Man, since the dawn of the species, has taken great consolation and joy in his religions. “Faith” and “belief” do not necessarily surrender to logic: they cannot even be declared to be illogical. They can be things quite apart. Religious tolerance does not mean one cannot express his own beliefs or must adopt the ideology of others. It does mean that seeking to undermine or attack the religious faith and beliefs of another has always been a short road to trouble.

Tolerance is a good cornerstone on which to build human relationships. One is at liberty to hold up his own beliefs for acceptance. One is at risk when he seeks to assault the beliefs of others, much more so when he attacks and seeks to harm them because of their religious convictions. When one studies the suffering caused by religious and ideological intolerance throughout human history, it is easy to see that intolerance is a very coercive and non-productive activity.

View the video HERE

History of Ideas – Religion

Synopsis: Religion and Science have shared a complex relationship which has historically fluctuated between cooperation and conflict. Both disciplines arise from an intellectual desire to explain the natural world, but their paths have diverged over the nature of knowledge. Holmes Rolston III, a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Colorado State University, sees their missions as complimentary, but different: “Science operates with the presumption that there are causes to things, Religion with the presumption that there are meanings to things.” Religion agrees that the world is intelligible and is capable of being logically understood. However, natural law alone provides only the beginning of illumination. Religion was an ingenious solution to many of mankind’s earliest fears and needs. The understanding gained through our senses is useful, but incomplete. Its full value is realized by imparting significance, or meaning to the phenomenon. Reality is subject to our conscious awareness; shaped by interpretation, as well as, by experience. Religion’s purpose is to supply the meanings for why things happen; to explain what is in order to evaluate what ought to be.  Religion may seem irrational to many, but the needs remain.

View the video HERE

The Big Bang Theory of Creation

Synopsis: This animated short, narrated by Gillian Anderson, summarizes the commonly accepted scientific hypothesis that the Universe came into being through a sudden explosion of energy. According to the Big Bang theory, the expansion of the observable universe began with the explosion of a single particle at a definite point in time. This startling idea first appeared in scientific form in 1931, in a paper by Georges Lemaître, a Belgian cosmologist and Catholic priest.

View the video HERE

Thomas Aquinas: The First Mover Argument

Synopsis: Every motion was caused by something else. But how, or who, first caused the universe to come into existence? Gillian Anderson summarizes Thomas Aquinas’ theory of the Prime Mover.

View the video HERE

William Paley: The Divine Watchmaker

Synopsis: In Natural Theology, the theologian William Paley pointed out that if you found a watch on a heath you’d naturally assume it had a designer. Paley argued, that in a similar way, the human eye, a brilliant piece of biological machinery, must have also had a designer. But does this prove the existence of a Divine Watchmaker?

View the video HERE

John Locke on Tolerance

Synopsis: Is it possible to persuade people to change their beliefs by force? John Locke thought not. People might say they believe in your God to save themselves from torture or being burnt at the stake, but you won’t change their actual beliefs that way. Narrated by Aidan Turner.

View the video HERE

What Is Liberation Theology?

 Synopsis: According to Christian doctrine of Liberation Theology one should show solidarity with, and compassion for, the poor through one’s words, prayers and deeds. Accordingly, this doctrine implies that the moral test of any society is; ‘how it treats its most vulnerable members.’  Liberation Theology asserts the poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation.  Therefore, when instituting public policy one should always keep the ‘preferential option for the poor’ at the forefront of one’s mind.

View the video HERE

What is Islam?

Synopsis: Islam is the world’s second largest religion. A 2012 Pew Research Center study estimates Islam has 1.6 billion adherents, making up over 23% of the world population. This four minute short, from Simple Islam discusses the basic tenets of the Koran, summarizing the Five Pillars of Faith that all Muslims are required to adhere to. These include (1)  the declaration of faith in God; (2) prayer and service toward those who are in need; (3) fasting to experience the hardships of those who are less fortunate; (4) charity (Muslims must donate 2.5% of their earnings towards charitable causes); and the Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca.

View the video HERE

What is Jihad?

Synopsis: This five minute short, from Simple Islam summarizes the Islamic concept of Jihad, an Arabic word which means “to strive, or struggle in the way of God.” In Islam there are two types of Jihad termed the lesser jihad, represented by a lower case j, and the greater Jihad, represented with a capital J. The lesser jihad is the fight in self-defense of those who seek to harm a Muslim or prevent them from practicing their faith. This was a temporary edict which dates back to the founding of the Islamic faith, when Muslims experienced savage oppression. This jihad was only to be carried out to defend against aggression until peace was restored. The second, or “Greater Jihad” is defined as “the struggle within” to resist one’s evil inclinations. It is the moral struggle to become a better person and develop a closer relationship with God.

View the video HERE

Hindu Story of Creation

Synopsis: Most religions have a single creation story. Hinduism has many. This is because for Hindus there is no single creation, but periodic cycles of creation. The universe we live in is one of innumerable universes.

View the video HERE

Eastern Philosophy: The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

Synopsis: Does our inescapable suffering stem from our own greed and ignorance? Buddha thought so, but he offered a route out to enlightenment. Stephen Fry explains Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.

View the video HERE

Eastern Philosophy: Daoism of Lao Tzu

Synopsis: Along with Confucianism, “Daoism” (sometimes called “Taoism“) is one of the two great indigenous philosophical traditions of China. Daoist ideas fermented among master teachers who had a holistic view of life. These daoshi (Daoist masters) did not compartmentalize practices by which they sought to influence the forces of reality, increase their longevity, have interaction with realities not apparent to our normal way of seeing things, and order life morally and by rulership. They offered insights we might call philosophical aphorisms. The following six minute excerpt introduces the teachings of Lao Tzu.

View the video HERE

Eastern Philosophy: Confucian Ancestor Worship

Synopsis: Honor your elders. Especially those who brought you into the world. And honor those who brought them into the world and those who brought them into the world and so on… Confucious believed that it is within the family that individuals learn how to live well and become good members of the wider community. Narrated by Aidan Turner.

View the video HERE

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“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.” – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

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