By David Niose
Many interfaith ceremonies practice exclusion, not inclusion
Inevitably after major disasters, particularly those involving the senseless loss of life such as last week’s Boston Marathon bombing, an interfaith service of some type will take shape, where various religious groups will come together to mourn and heal. This happened in Boston last week, with a high-profile service that included religious leaders from various faith communities: Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Greek Orthodox, and several Protestant traditions.
In a modern pluralistic society such as ours, it not only seems natural, but arguably even healthy, that various religious groups could come together in a time of crisis. Indeed, considering that these groups have historically justified bloodshed against one another based on their theological differences, their coming together for an interfaith service, recognizing the importance of our common humanity, can only be seen as a positive development.
Nevertheless, to humanists and other nonbelievers, such interfaith services are often problematic. Though the “interfaith” concept is perhaps commendable, the specifics of how interfaith services are often conducted and presented are not. That is, most interfaith services are quite exclusive, not at all inclusive, yet they are perceived by the media and the public as representing virtually all citizens. Interfaith services are generally accepted as a forum where “everyone” comes together, but in fact they usually represent an exclusive club.
Read the rest of this Psychology Today article here.
David Niose is the President Emeritus of the AHA Board of Directors and the author of Nonbeliever Nation.