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In Theory

January 29, 2010

According to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, “the religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit neatly into conventional categories.” A new poll published in December by Pew showed that many Americans engage in multiple religious practices and mix in elements of diverse traditions. The Pew survey showed that many respondents said that they attend worship services of more than one faith or denomination — even when they’re not traveling or attending a special event like a funeral or wedding. Many of the respondents said they blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs.

Does your church or religious institution embrace the mixing of religious practices among your congregants or reject this? Would you agree that we now live in an age of cross-religious diversity in this country? And how is your church or institution adapting to such change?

It is a part of the tradition of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to respect all religions. Our 11th Article of Faith states: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege. Let them worship how, where or what they may.”

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My wife, Sheila, and I attend worship services of many faiths — about once a month — and find great joy in our experience, while, at the same time, increasing our appreciation for our own teachings.

Latter-day Saints are in a unique position among the religions of the world in our belief that Jesus Christ organized a church when He was upon the Earth, men changed it, and it was brought back to earth in the 1830s giving it His authority and blessing once again. We respect truth in tradition or practice from wherever it emanates.

Tom Thorkelson

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

People feel they can be honest about their spiritual lives and freely explore whatever practices will really help them. It is natural to integrate religious and philosophical wisdom acquired from a variety of sources.

Almost all Zen practitioners were raised in other spiritual traditions or were unaffiliated. We suggest that newcomers try Zen meditation for a few months, and if they do not feel it is making any difference in their lives, try something else.

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