Being a Catholic on a university campus, you begin to hear the same things over and over again.
One I’m already sick of hearing is that all religions essentially teach the same thing: all religions are equal and all basically have the same message.
Isn’t that a lovely thought?
Doesn’t that make us sound so tolerant and welcoming?
Actually, it’s not. It’s astoundingly arrogant. It’s arrogant because it claims to understand all religions and then presumes to know these religions better than their own adherents.
In order to assert that all religions are the same, you would need to have a deep understanding of (at the very least) every major world religion from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism, Confucianism to Mormonism and traditional African religions. You would need to understand the many denominations, sects, divisions and schools within each. You would need to know what they teach, how they are received and practiced by millions of different people today and through the centuries.
Further, you would need to be able to understand each religion such that you could see through all the extra, circumstantial “stuff” to the real heart of each faith. That’s something people spend their entire lives doing — and you think you can manage it from one comparative religion class?
You would need to be able to discern all this even though the most faithful and learned adherents of each religion will tell you that their beliefs are definitely not the same.
Christians worship God as Trinity but Muslims believe is this worst kind of idolatry. Hindus believe the ultimate reality is the oneness of everything, Buddhists that it is nothingness. Jains are vegetarian because they will not harm even animals but Seraphic Jews happily enjoy their lamb at Passover. Some religions believe all religions are equal, others strenuously deny this.
I could go on but you get the point.
So sure, go ahead and tell me all religions are the same.
But don’t pretend for a minute that that somehow makes you tolerant. You’re making a claim you couldn’t possibly hold to with any intellectual integrity by ignoring the deeply-treasured beliefs and practices of billions of people.