The Routledge Handbook of Religious Literacy, Pluralism, and Global Engagement  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Religious Literacy, Pluralism, and Global Engagement

ISBN 9780367478025
Published December 28, 2021 by Routledge
468 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This pioneering handbook proposes an approach to pluralism that is relational, principled, and non-relativistic, going beyond banal calls for mere "tolerance."

The growing religious diversity within societies around the world presents both challenges and opportunities. A degree of competition between deeply held religious/worldview perspectives is natural and inevitable, yet at the same time the world urgently needs engagement and partnership across lines of difference. None of the world’s most pressing problems can be solved by any single actor, and as such it is not a question of if but when you partner with an individual or institution that does not think, act, or believe as you do. The authors argue that religious literacy—defined as a dynamic combination of competencies and skills, continuously refined through real-world cross-cultural engagement—is vital to building societies and states of neighborly solidarity and civic fairness.

Through examination, reflection, and case studies across multiple faith traditions and professional fields, this handbook equips scholars and students, as well as policymakers and practitioners, to assess, analyze, and act collaboratively in a world of deep diversity.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

Table of Contents


1. Rethinking Religious Literacy and Pluralism: Crossing Cultures, Making Covenants, and Engaging Globally

Chris Seiple and Dennis R. Hoover

Part I: What is Religious Literacy For? Philosophical and Religious Perspectives on Covenantal Pluralism

2. Covenantal Pluralism: Toward a World of Peaceable Neighborhoods

W. Christopher Stewart, Chris Seiple and Dennis R. Hoover

3. Covenantal Pluralism: Perspectives from Jewish History and Thought

David Saperstein

4. Fratelli Tutti, Lessons Learned from Interreligious Action, and the Catholic Church

Maryann Cusimano Love

5. Are Calvinists for Pluralism? The Politics and Practice of a Protestant Possibility

Robert J. Joustra and Jessica R. Joustra

6. Deed Over Idea: Toward a Shared Caliphate

Mahan Mirza

7. Hinduism, Insular Pluralism, and Religious Literacy

Shylashri Shankar

8. The Elephant in the Room: Buddhist Religious Exclusivism and Prospects for Covenantal Pluralism

Paul Fuller

9. Isomorphism, Syncretism, and Poly-ontological Dynamics: The Implications of Chinese Religion for Covenantal Pluralism

David A. Palmer

10. On Neutrality and the Nones: Secular Humanism, Covenantal Pluralism, and "Religious" Literacy

Roy Speckhardt

PART II: Who Needs Religious Literacy? Perspectives on Professional Fields

11. Religious Literacy and K-12 Education

Benjamin Pietro Marcus

12. Religious Literacy and Higher Education

James Walters

13. International Studies, Religion, and Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy

James K. Wellman, Jr.

14. Religious Literacy in Development and Humanitarian Relief

Katherine Marshall

15. Religious Literacy and Diplomacy

Nicole Bibbins Sedaca

16. Religious Literacy, Chaplaincy, and Spiritual Care

Wendy Cadge, Carolina P. Seigler and Trace Haythorn

17. Corporate Religious Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as Covenantal Pluralism

Brian J. Grim and Kent Johnson

18. Religious Literacy and Social Services

Chelsea Langston Bombino and Stanley Carlson-Thies

19. Religious Literacy and American Journalism: A Charge to Public Service

Josh Good

PART III: Where Can Religious Literacy and Covenantal Pluralism Make a Difference? Case Studies and Practitioner Perspectives

20. Engagement & Embrace—from Apartheid to Democracy: A Reflection on Rupture and a Toolkit for Transition

Ebrahim Rasool

21. The Secularism Paradox: Living with Deep Difference in the Middle East

Shadi Hamid

22. Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Prospects for Covenantal Pluralism in Laos and Vietnam

Stephen Bailey and Hien Vu

23. Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy, Competencies, and Skills: An Indonesian Experience

Matius Ho

24. ‘Salad Bowl’ Secularism: India’s Covenant to Preserve Pluralism

Tehmina Arora

25. Religious Literacy and Pakistan’s Pluralist Potential

Minhas Majeed Khan

26. Geo-Religious Literacy, Orthodoxy, and Plurality in Russia: Prospects for Covenantal Pluralism

Katya Drozdova

27. Transition and Transformation in Western Europe: Possibilities for Covenantal Pluralism

Sughra Ahmed

28. Religious Literacy, Racial Literacy, and Latin America’s Overdue Reckoning with Deep Diversity

Raimundo C. Barreto

29. Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy and Pluralist Leadership in the United States

Stephanie Summers

30. Understanding—and Bridging—Religious Liberty Tribalism: A Case Study in Talking About Muslims’ Rights with Christian Conservatives in America

Asma T. Uddin

31. Seeking a Virtuous Feedback Loop: Robust Pluralism and Civic Engagement in the United States

Zeenat Rahman

32. Fairness as a Path Forward on LGBTQ Rights and Religious Liberty

Shirley Hoogstra and Robin Fretwell Wilson

33. From the Pulpit to Pluralism: A Personal Reflection

Bob Roberts, Jr.

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Chris Seiple, Ph.D., The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, is president emeritus of the Institute for Global Engagement, USA, and principal advisor to the Templeton Religion Trust’s Covenantal Pluralism Initiative. A former U.S. Marine infantry officer, he has served as a senior fellow for Comparative Religion at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies, as senior advisor to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Evidence-Based Summit on Strategic Religious Engagement (2020), and as co-chair of the U.S. secretary of state’s “Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group” (2011–2013).

Dennis R. Hoover, D.Phil., Oxford University, is editor of The Review of Faith & International Affairs; research advisor to the Templeton Religion Trust’s Covenantal Pluralism Initiative; and senior fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement, USA. He is co-editor with Mariano Barbato and Robert Joustra of Modern Papal Diplomacy and Social Teaching in World Affairs (2019); editor of Religion and American Exceptionalism (2014); and co-editor with Chris Seiple and Pauletta Otis of The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Security (2013).