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A New Religious America
Jan 1, 2003

Diana L. Eck.

Diana Eck, leader of Harvard University's Pluralism Project, introduces readers to America's new religious landscape of mosques, temples, and monasteries. Focusing mainly on the period after the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, she calls this change very subtle and largely unnoticed.

She discusses the meaning of religious diversity and freedom. Basing herself on the Great Seal of the United States ”E pluribus unum (From Many, One) ” she asks: What is the measure of our manyness? What is the meaning of our oneness? Each religion and culture, she asserts, has its own way of addressing these questions.

For example, a Muslim imam referred to Qur'an 49:13 in the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives: Do you not know, O people, that I have made you into tribes and nations that you may know each other? Hinduism's Rig Veda (I.64.46) says: Truth is One. People call it by many names.

The author defines pluralism as the dynamic process through which we engage with one another in and through our very deepest differences. Some of its manifestations are Nikes and Reeboks adorning shoe racks in gurdwaras, mosques, and temples; a Muslim Girl Scout who promises to serve Allah and my country; and consecration rituals at a Hindu temple using a mixture of sacred Ganges river water and regular Mississippi river water.

This well-written and thought-provoking book provides an historical context, describes legal battles and pivotal court cases, and addresses stereotypes, religiously motivated hate crimes, how some communities have welcomed religious pluralism, and appropriate models for engagement.