What are the benefits of multi-faith societies?

As more and more of us are living in multi faith countries (and I include non-faith when I talk of multi-faith) with diverse societies and working in workplaces that champion diversity I was wondering what your opinions were on the following questions…

What are the benefits of living and working in a multi-faith environment? and

How does/should a Catholic interact and engage with that environment? and

Is secularlism within society really as big a threat to faith as it is billed?

Thanks all.

Welcome to the boards…

What are the benefits of living and working in a multi-faith environment? and

Kind of a broad question eh???
Freedom of choice is a benefit. For the faithful, being exposed to other beliefs can help to strengthen ones own faith. We learn more from challenge than from conformity

How does/should a Catholic interact and engage with that environment? and

In faith…

Is secularlism within society really as big a threat to faith as it is billed?

Secularism is not a threat to “Faith”. The Faith, the Church, protected by the Holy Spirit will continue. The threats to the faith of individuals is quite great, not because of he multi-faith environment, but because of where the emphasis is placed by the culture in general.


I’m interested to see how this one plays out. I will just add one thing here - the concept of the secular, meaning ‘worldly’ was created by the Church in order to define an area that was not the proper preserve of the Church hierarchy to govern. Thus, there are ‘secular’ priests, i.e. those not bound by the rule of a religious order, and ‘secular’ religious societies, i.e. those for people who live in the world, not nuns and monks. This is what keeps us, rightly and justly, from living in a theocracy.

I used to work as a civilian for the Department of Army. We had yearly training in diversity. What I learned from it is that we all have strenghts and weaknesses. If we understand these, we can work more efficiently together.

When I try to apply this to the Church, I first think of many different cultures and different ways of celebrating special occasions. We are just ending the Christmas season, so it comes to mind as an example. Some cultures celebrate St. Nicholas Day as a day for children to celebrate, others celebrate 3 Kings Day and say that the three kings bring presents to the children as they did to the Christ child. Some say the Christ Child Himself brings presents to the children. In our country, we usually celebrate St. Nicholas and the Christ Child together. St. Nicholas gave gifts to people while he lived. God gave us the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

By studying the diverse practices, we can see what is constant, love and gift giving, the birth of Christ, the gift of the Father. I’m sure someone can find more constants… We can also learn from the differences. The ones I mentioned above each emphasize part of the story of the nativity.

When studying diversity in different religions, we can gain from the same sort of comparison. Many faiths share our central beliefs. We can easily accept what agrees with our beliefs. By understanding the points upon which they believe differently, we can begin to understand what led them to their beliefs. Besides helping us as a religion to move closer to being ecumenical (by recognizing the similarities), the differences show us the problematic areas and are the beginning of finding a road to agreement among us.

A big benefit can be that hopefully no bad faith can trump the others. Here I speak of bad in terms that all would understand. For example no stoning of gays, no child sacrifice, etc as laws which become laws of the land.

How does/should a Catholic interact and engage with that environment? and

A Catholic can show via love and virtue that Christianity is true. He can be a walking advert for Jesus Christ, not just by proselyting, but by leading a life worth admiring. When people ask who that kind and selfless person is, they can hear that he/she is a Catholic. In addition the Catholic should understand the other peoples’ positions so as to understand their fears and uncertainties over Catholicism. If Catholicism is associated with colonisation we should show that we are not racist, colonist, xenophobes or exploiters. One could arguably be upset over this humbling notion, but we are not doing this for ourselves but for God. And besides everyone is a child of God. Treating all with respect should be part of our lives.

When people see that the Catholic practices what he preaches, they can perhaps be convinced to join the faith.

Is secularlism within society really as big a threat to faith as it is billed?

Depends on whether the secularists are also religious people or not, and how reasonable and logical they are.

One benefit is that, since anyone can participate regardless of what he/she believes, no one has to expend time and effort on policing people’s thoughts to determine whether they’re entitled to belong or not. Another benefit is that you get a larger pool of talent to draw upon, since you’re not restricted to people of a particular faith.

As Catholics, we should obey the law and be charitable toward others.

As for the size of the threat posed by secularism, I think it’s too soon to tell.

Thanks for the answers - very interesting.

The reason I asked these questions is that there is a diversity forum at work where we have a very broad membership of people from all religions and also those who are atheist or non-belief participants. Someone on our forum has observed that there is a tendency to stick to our own perspective and try to ‘drill this into others’ and has asked - ‘why do we want multi-belief anyway?’

I know that, for me, learning about other faiths strengthens my own and I also find it interesting to see so many different opinions. I like the comment above that refers to ‘belonging’ - this is probably a key factor.

Thanks again.

Yes - there is a tendency to stick to one’s own perspective and to try to convince others…That is only natural since, from our perspective we are right…:thumbsup:

The advantage of “free” systems is that they allow us to be sure that we remain right by testing our beliefs and perspectives against others.
In addition, through charitable intercourse, we learn where out beliefs and others touch in truth and love. This provides a “common ground” for understanding.


I doubt anyone really wants a multi-belief society. Everyone wants others to believe as they do. I’ve never heard of a self proclaimed open minded parent exposing their child to every different kind of religion in a real way - like taking them every house of worship in town. Maybe it has happened but it certainly is not typical. Every belief system rejects some ideas as being false. It has to be since not everything can be true.

There can be benefit to exposure to other ideas. Of course other ideas can also be dangerous. People will scoff at that but no one I’ve ever met thought there were truly no dangerous ides.

Man achieves the most by being unified and having his efforts directed towards a single good. Being unified and wrongly directed is bad, but not not being unified is also bad. Which is worse is dependent on the individual situation. It is my personal opinion that modern America is far too fractured a society. Evidence for this would be drug use, divorce rate, abortion rate, depression, incarceration and other measures that show a very spiritually unhealthy society.

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