Based on the current PBS Series Faith & Reason by Bill Moyers
A number of guests on FAITH & REASON have characterized the struggle between tolerance and religious fanaticism as a battle being waged within religions themselves — between radicals more moderate believers. By engaging and empowering moderate believers, they say, the fanatical elements will hopefully be pushed to the side, allowing for a more tolerant and peaceful coexistence with secular society.
Salman Rushdie spoke of his grandfather, a pious Muslim, as an model of the highly religious individual who is also capable of being broad-minded and unprejudiced:
"My grandfather, my mother's father, was deeply religious, and he was a believing Muslim. He went on the pilgrimage to Mecca. All his life he said his prayers five times a day, and yet — I don't know why I say 'yet' — but as well as that, he was just about the most tolerant and open-minded man I knew. Even now — he's long dead — he still represents a kind of model of open-mindedness and tolerance … I would say, 'Grandfather, I'm not sure I believe in God.' He'd say, 'Sit down here and tell me how you got such a dumb idea.' You know? You could talk about anything to him. He had flocks of grandchildren heckling him, asking why he was constantly prostrating himself, and he would take it all in good humor."
Native American faithkeeper Oren Lyons, in a 1991 conversation with Bill Moyers, expressed a similar concept of tolerance existing between members of various Native American tribes whose religious views seem to be in conflict: "We hear the stories of other nations, of how they came to be, when we hear how the Hopis talk about the Spider Woman, and coming from the Earth and the fourth world that they've experienced...We hear the walkabout songs of the Aboriginal people in Australia, when they talk about singing into existence these beings ...all the entities in the world, as far as they are concerned, has a song. And we say, "That's wonderful. We Agree. We say yes. Now hear our story, this is how we came." And they listen to us and they say, "That's wonderful. We believe that." -- Oren Lyons, Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, Read the transcript (PDF)
Martin Amis: "Well, Islam is the great religion that has been the donor of countless benefits to mankind, that led the world in civilization throughout the Middle Ages, that gave us algebra and all kinds of intellectual breakthroughs, plus an example of tolerance that nowhere else in the world could offer at that time — a level of tolerance and respect for justice. That is Islam."
Karen Armstrong, religious scholar: "The mystical branch of Islam, the Sufi movement, insisted that when you had encountered God, you were neither a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim. You were at home equally in a synagogue, a mosque, a temple or a church, because all rightly guided religion comes from God, and a man of God, once he's glimpsed the divine, has left these man-made distinctions behind." -- Karen Armstrong Read the transcript.
Sissela Bok, writer and philospher:"The Golden Rule exists in every culture. Confucius speaks of it. Buddhists speak of it. T he Bhagavad-Gita speaks of it, and, of course, the Bible speaks of it...To the extent it's honored even a little more, there is an improvement." -- Sissela Bok Read the transcript. (PDF)
William Sloan Coffin, Christian clergyman: "You know, the impulse to love God and neighbor, that impulse is at the heart of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. No question about it. We have much more in common than we have in conflict." Read the transcript.