Chatting to a university student the other day. Enrolled in a history course on Religious Conflict. On the first day the lecturers stated that their essays must come from a 'neutral' perspective, by which was meant a pluralist perspective - that perspective which affirms that no single religion has a privileged access to truth. All faiths are equally valid. All roads lead up the mountain to God and there are no give-way signs!
I have a question! Since when is this pluralist perspective a neutral perspective? It is so very far from neutral. It is a tiny step from 'all faiths are equally valid' to 'no faith is particularly special.' And that is not neutral!! That is a cynical, disrespectful, demeaning stance to take with the many, many peoples of the world for whom their faith is precious.
But here is the irony. A closer examination of the course contents would suggest that three monotheistic religions are in view - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Then a quick flick through the lecture outline would suggest that Christianity is the favoured religion to whip with about 10 out of 12 sessions given in some part to this pursuit ... with any whipping of Islam pretty much avoided from what I can see. I may have missed it...
If pluralism is genuinely neutral then equal space is made for the Christian faith. It will attract the same inherent respect as Islam (and Buddhism and Hinduism) ... and Hinduism and Buddhism and Islam will attract the same level of critique as Christianity.
Until that stance is adopted in our discussions (particularly at a university, for goodness sake!), surely the very last thing that can be affirmed is that what is happening is neutral?