Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Religion, MA


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Patrick Q. Mason

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Maritza Salazar

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Teresa A. Crist


religious identity, pluralism, interfaith dialogue

Subject Categories



The confrontation with difference is an especially large challenge when it comes to religion and religious beliefs. Because religion is integral to so many, it becomes a sticking point in negotiations, conversations, and policy development. Even for those without particularly strong religious convictions, religion must be considered in their interactions with those who do. It is precisely that interaction that I seek to further understand. Engaging in dialogue with those of different faiths or value systems brings to the surface myriad difficulties, chief among which is the challenge of simply coming together to begin the conversation. The most appealing approach to that challenge is often to find some sort of common ground on which everyone can agree, a foundation upon which relationships can be built. That common ground, however, can be just as harmful to the end-goal of dialogue as not having dialogue in the first place. Common ground approaches focus on similarities, ignoring or discounting the differences which both make us who we are and make conversations difficult to have. In ignoring differences, participants are forced to relegate salient aspects of their beliefs to a private (unseen) arena, where they may wither away, dulled from disuse, eventually no longer relevant as an identifier. The foremost question I seek to answer, then, is the following: How can religious identity be maintained in light of such approaches to dialogue?



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Religion Commons