Every religion in the world may seem very strange to people who grew up outside of it and don’t know much about it. To people intimately familiar with a religion, it represents a way to understand a society more deeply. There are two possible outcomes when two representatives of different religions or viewpoints about God meet. The first one brings conflict, accusations, misunderstandings and indifference. The second one can lead to a deeper understanding of different peoples, societies and religious forms.
Today the interest in various religions and traditions is very high. An increase in the practice of Buddhism in the United States is just one example of this interest. A surprising number of Eastern, Westerns and other traditions are winning more and more followers. The ecumenical tradition is also gaining strength. Constructive dialog among the representatives of different branches of Christianity and various other religions is also becoming more constructive and fruitful. The relations between Christians and Jews are also becoming better.
One of the reasons for all these movements is greater social accommodation of different faiths and their followers. Also, as communication tools keep improving and barriers keep vanishing, the diversity of human experiences and religions is becoming more and more exciting and more and more accessible. For most people, a truly pluralistic society is not a distant target, but a reality of their daily lives.
One of the reasons to study different religions is to see how their influence societies, how they differ and what they have in common. Sometimes the true nature of a certain religion comes out in a new light when its follower studies a different tradition with a nonjudgmental approach. Anyone who wants to find conflict in different religions will also often be surprised by alignment and agreement of different traditions. All major religions in the world are very different, yet at the same time they have a lot in common and celebrate the same things.