Religious Diversity Made Salient to Religious Individuals: Predictors of Exclusivist and Inclusivist Responses
This study examined how religious individuals respond when forced to think about religious diversity. The 71 participants (52 females, 19 males; mean age = 40.94, SD = 22.75) completed quantitative measures of religious commitment, feelings of spiritual well-being, epistemological style, need for cognitive closure, and personal dogmatism. Furthermore, participants wrote a response after reading several Koran and Bible verses, with each verse claiming that its religion is the only way to salvation; they then also wrote about what the phrase “religious diversity” means to them, and their feelings about such diversity. Qualitative thematic coding of responses to the verses and diversity question revealed that participants fell into one of three groups: religious exclusivists, religious inclusivists, or “other” (e.g., those claiming that no religion is true). Current practitioners of any religious tradition were likely to be exclusivist; high level of involvement in or commitment to a religion, and feelings of spiritual well-being, also correlated with exclusivism. Additionally, exclusivists tended to be intrinsically motivated in their religion – i.e., they practiced religion for its inherent value rather than for personal or social benefits. Inclusivists were the least likely to report a need to avoid ambiguities in one’s personal epistemology. Education level did not differ among the three groups, but those with less education were more likely to refuse to respond to the verses or the diversity question (or both); personal dogmatism also correlated with refusal to respond.
Keywords: Religion, Pluralism, Epistemology
Dr. Eric Marx
Lecturer in Psychology, School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University
Affiliation not supplied