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Welcome The Boniuk Institute at Rice University is dedicated to nurturing religious tolerance and advancing religious literacy, respect and mutual understanding among people of all and no faiths, especially youth through research efforts, educational initiatives and community engagement.
Headlines in Religious Tolerance

Religion as a Consumer
A small group of Muslims who have resorted to violence also interpret the religious text of the Qu'ran in a way that justifies their actions.  Religious leaders are undoubtedly responsible for this unbalanced reading of the Qu’ran, and it is incumbent on them to fix it. But the problem is not solely intellectual and hermeneutical. It is more importantly social and political as well. The text is not only a consumer of external intellectual assumptions but also a receiver of sociopolitical intruders. Fixing these conditions is the unavoidable responsibility of peace seekers.

Catholicism and the Legacy of Anti-Judaism
A consideration of how the Catholic church has dealt with perhaps the most difficult chapter of its long history : a set of teachings according to which Jews were God-killers condemned to suffering. This teaching gave justification to centuries of contempt and persecution.  The question after the Holocaust became: can a religious institution that represents a supposedly unchanging wisdom make a sudden course change in a basic teaching and still remain credible?

Christian Zionism as Interreligious Cooperation
Understanding Christian Zionism as an example of interfaith cooperation highlights three key factors that have facilitated interfaith cooperation more broadly: the role of governments in providing the conditions for cooperation, the influence of interfaith dialogue on politics, and the importance of sharp insider-outsider boundary lines to facilitate interfaith solidarity.  Over time, evangelical attitudes toward Jews have been shaped by a combination of external social, political and cultural forces and internal reforms initiated in the 20th century.

Understanding Boundaries Through Buddhists' Construction of Identities
This study offers a detailed picture of the mechanisms through which people construct religious identity - as well as any policy implications that emerge - as a first step towards achieving mutual understanding among people who are affiliated with different faith traditions.

Religious Identity and Ethnic Switching Among the Iranian Diaspora
This post examines the impact of host hostility against Iranian nationals on ethnic switching and the rise of religious identity among Iranian religious minorities in the United States.  It explains how the negative stereotype of Iranians and Muslims since the Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis as well as unfamiliarity of many Americans with some of the Iranian religious subgroups has encouraged many members of Iranian religious minorities to curtail their Iranian national identity and give prominence to their religious identity.

Islamophobia and the Persistence of Religious Intolerance in the United States and Europe
Many minority religious communities today experience levels of freedom and tolerance unthinkable several centuries ago and, in some cases, several decades ago.  Muslims remain one of the primary exceptions.  By almost every metric, Islamophobia has grown worse over the past two decades.  Individual and systemic discrimination and even violence toward Muslim communities are features of many Western nations.

The Limits of Tolerance: China's Communist Party and the Uyghurs
The Chinese Communist Party officially permits five religions: Daoism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Islam.  The CCP tolerates each in the sense that individual citizens may engage in religious practices.  The degree to which the state tolerates them, however varies.  This memo addresses the CCP's relationship with Islam, considering the experiences of the Uyghur minority.

The Law and Religious Intolerance in Indonesia
Religious freedom does not exist in Indonesia, although its 1945 constitution guarantees freedom of religion.  Religious freedom, however, is a promise that has not been fulfilled by the state.  Can religious freedom be secured in Indonesia?  The answers are complicated.

Non-Muslims in Heaven
Various Western writers draw a correlation between Muslim terrorism and the Muslim belief that all non-Muslims will be eternally damned.  Leaving aside the simplistic nature of this correlation, a closer look reveals that some of the most influential theologians in the history of Islam affirmed the eventual salvation of at least most of humanity.

Recovering Tolerance as Inherently Islamic
Given the current global emphasis on liberal values such as tolerance and inclusivity, Muslim scholars engaged in the study of Islamic intellectual history are critically reappraising the classical interpretive and juridical literature on these topics. There is a strong awareness, particularly among modernist and liberal Muslims, that the diversity of interpretations encountered in these primary sources on these issues were engendered by the different socio-historical and political circumstances in which these interpretations developed, and therefore are to be regarded as historically contingent. As Muslims face vastly changed circumstances today and different sets of concerns, the same kind of interpretive flexibility and creativity is called for.

Religion as Soft Power, Tolerance and the Russo-Ukrainian War
If Ukraine is "ground zero" in the tensions between Russia and the West, the establishment of an independent Ukrainian church is "ground zero" in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Religious Tolerance and the U.S. Foreign Policy Bureaucracy
How might the U.S. foreign policy bureaucracy have an impact on religious tolerance abroad?  While foreign policy is often portrayed as the realm of security and economic interests, U.S. diplomacy has become increasingly attentive to religious dynamics in recent years.  This post contrasts two approaches that have coexisted within American diplomatic institutions: (1) tolerance via ideological change and promotion of religious freedom and (2) tolerance via policy engagement.  The two approaches are not mutually exclusive, and in fact coexisted at the U.S. Departmetn of State by the closing years of the Obama administration.  However, the Trump administration has brought significant change, with a prioritazation of religious freedom promotion as an appendage of its "America First" foreign policy.  This change is tied to longer-term trends in American democracy that are likely to outlive the current administration.

Boniuk Institute Statement on El Paso Shootings
The weekend's tragic shootings in El Paso follow patterns like those in Charleston, Charlottesville, Oak Creek, Poway, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere.  Since 2001, white domestic terrorists hae caused more fatalities in America than any other form of terrorism.  White supremacist attackers are self-avowedly inspired by a constellation of anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and racist ideologies.  They justify their violence to protect - what they believe to be - the purity, power, and superiority of the white race.

Global Religious Peace Activists from Armed Conflicts Convened by Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding
The 2019 Peacemakers in Action Working Retreat brings together peacebuilders from around the world to connect, share their unique experiences in confronting conflict and plan ways to collaborate.  During the week-long event, Tanenbaum will conduct conversations and trainings for the Peacemakers around physical and emotional trauma, women's roles in peacebuilding and more. 

Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr on Role of Thinking in Islam: Past, Present and Future
Seyyed Hossein Nasr — a prominent Islamic philosopher and one of the most important and foremost scholars of Islamic, Religious and Comparative Studies — discusses his insights on Islam and the modern world, his criticism of and solutions to Western approaches, importance of traditionalism, the role of thinking in Islam, and his own personal search in this interview by Sahil Badruddin.

Quebec is Poised to Undermine Religious Freedom in North America
With a proposed ban on public employees wearing religious symbols in Quebec to be debated by the legislature by June 14th, the Canadian province is poised to potentially become the first regional government in North America to ban the veil for government staff.

Challenges to Pluralism Today
Dr. John Esposito, Professor of International Affairs and Religion and Georgetown University and Director of their Bridge Initiative discusses his insights on Pluralism, Globalization, Religious Fundamentalism, Islam, the Media, Journalism, and Media Bubbles in this interview by Sahil Badruddin.
Listen to the interview here.

 

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