Is Religious Tolerance Always Desirable: The Case of Shinto and Buddhism

In a world still characterized by contention, even violent conflict, between religions and their adherents, “religious tolerance” remains a much promoted value, an ideal to be strived for. This is as it should be, for in an increasingly globalized world, the day in which a single religion can claim the exclusive right to provide the spiritual nourishment for the entire population of a nation is fast drawing to a close. Thus, organized religions are required to compete, yet tolerate, and ideally cooperate, with one another to an ever increasing degree. But is there a down side, a danger, to this mutual tolerance? This presentation suggests there is, a danger vividly demonstrated by the relationship between Shinto, the indigenous, animistic religion of Japan, and Buddhism, a later religious import. The question is addressed of how the mutual influence these two religions exerted on each other over their 1,500 years of interaction should be valued.

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Posted by IAFOR