Two Faces of American Pluralism: Political and Religious

Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 11 (33):39-61 (2012)
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Abstract

The paper examines the contours, features and developments of two faces of pluralism, as well as their interactions. First of all, based on the analysis of the pluralist theories, it underlines that pluralism is not perceived now only as a particular American school of thought, but mostly as a generic concept with meanings and connotations that vary from one epoch to another. Second of all, it scrutinizes the political pluralism in the United States, more exactly the relationship between constitutional pluralism and party pluralism, as well as the pluralism of interest groups. The religious pluralism is seen both as denominational pluralism and as diversity of religious organizations. The paper shows that, in spite of the common ground in the constitutional provisions and much interference in their development, each of the two faces of pluralism has followed its own dynamics. Next, it focuses on the new religious pluralism, which has nourished controversies regarding its effects on democracy in America. Although prestigious scholars have warned that these new challenges face real perils, the author of this paper sides with those who see them less of a threat than an opportunity for democracy to develop new interactions and participative tools, without abandoning its principles and values

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