Religious beliefs in the post-modern world is invariably riddled with questions. Among them, the most pertinent is the question of faith. Does God exist? Further if he does exist, which religion typifies what God would want? Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism are just a few of the possible answers. At the heart of the matter is the belief that all religions are equal. While this is not the conservative Christian definition, for many, religious beliefs have evolved into a form of pluralism that is "the existence within a, or society of, religiously distinct groups." In short, the definition has mutated into a form of religious tolerance. Because such a dichotomy exists in the postmodern era, it is important to distinguish between what is truly pluralist and what is purely tolerance.
Analyzing religious belief systems in the post-modern era often proves quite problematic.
- Postmodernism goes beyond modernism, which claims that all moral and ethical truth are relative.
- Postmodernism says there is no absolute truth anywhere.
- Postmodernists believe that all truth is always changing, whether it is spiritual, moral, political-even scientific truth is suspect.
The reality of postmodern thinking coupled with the challenge of pluralism, has invariably been a bane for those that follow a strict religious belief system. At a time when truth cannot be found, in whole or in part, many are challenged to find the truth in several religions. This situation proves overwhelmingly paradoxical.
Setting aside the paradoxical dichotomy of pluralism within the context of postmodern society and examining religious beliefs in and of themselves, it seems that the theological implications of pluralism are highly attuned to many religions. Arguably, the concept of pluralism is difficult for many to grasp. Because individuals view the world in such a different perspectives, it can be challenging to observe a fundamental part of human existence as different from what one believes. This brings scholars to the search for meaning and faith within the context of a belief system and also within the context of other religions. One could effectively argue that if faith and meaning are difficult to discern, how can they be interpreted within the context of religions that stand in opposition of each other. Thus religious beliefs prove to be illusive for many who were not raised and indoctrinated into a specific religious faith.
In the United States, the concept of religious freedom is a key aspect of the political and social landscape. Because of the history of religious persecution that compelled the emigration of America's earliest European settlers, those who adhere to unorthodox religious practices have often been afforded a substantial degree of latitude. While it must be acknowledged that some bias and bigotry pertaining to religious practices persists in the United States, particularly toward adherents of nontraditional faiths, the foundation of religious tolerance has played an important role in shaping the view of religious practices in American culture.