MORE RELIGIOUS REVELATIONS
Mitt Romney says he's going to give a speech focused specifically on his Mormon faith. Good. The more open presidential candidates are about such things the better, but let's remember that the only relevant question for voters in a religiously free country is how a candidate's religious beliefs will affect his positions on public policy.
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NOTICING THE MANY FAITHS AROUND US
I often write about interfaith and ecumenital relations, but was surprised the other day when I attended a memorial service to realize how much all of this has become woven into at least some of the fabric of our culture.
I, a Presbyterian, was in a United Methodist church sitting between a Presbyterian and a Methodist. In the pew in front of us was a Buddhist. And the person giving the eulogy that day was a Catholic nun.
All of us were there because of our attachment to a woman who used to be a teacher, and among the people she taught were my two daughters.
But her range of friends was wide, indeed.
My guess is that anyone driving by the church would have assumed a bunch of Methodists were simply there to say goodbye to another Methodist. But that assumption would have been wrong and it would have missed some of the increasing richness of the religious makeup of America.
That makeup has changed rather dramatically since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed immigration reform into law in 1965, opening the doors to millions of people from many places, but especially Asia. Those people have brought with them their own brands of religion, including varieties of Christianity different from what had been here before.
I think the United States has a chance to be a model to the world for how people of many faiths can live together in harmony. That does not require anyone to give up or compromise beliefs. Rather, it requires all of us to be respectful of people who hold religious views different from our own. And it might be a good idea if we began to notice more often when we find ourselves in the company of people who differ from us religiously.
As I discovered at the recent memorial service, it happens more often than we might imagine.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (In my column tomorrow, I write from the high desert country of northern New Mexico and ask: Was humanity meant for misery?)