cover image Pluralism in Practice: Case Studies of Leadership in a Religiously Diverse America

Pluralism in Practice: Case Studies of Leadership in a Religiously Diverse America

Elinor Pierce. Orbis, $34 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-62698-548-3

Pierce (coeditor of With the Best of Intentions), research director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard, probes the limits of religious pluralism in a dozen thought-provoking case histories from the first two decades of the 21st century. Centering each story around someone who worked to balance religious diversity with the demands of democracy, Pierce, for example, takes readers to the small town of Hamtramck, Mich., which in 2004 was seized by widespread opposition to a noise ordinance that would enable a local mosque to broadcast a daily call to prayer, requiring the mayor to delicately advocate for constitutional rights while respecting the town’s Polish cultural heritage; to Queens, N.Y., where beginning in 2007 the National Park Service marshaled outreach efforts to Indo-Caribbean Hindus whose practice of casting religious offerings into Jamaica Bay violated the Service’s “leave no trace” policy; and to lower Manhattan, site of the “Ground Zero Mosque” firestorm of 2010, concerning a proposed Muslim interfaith center that was never built. Cases are presented cogently and without bias, and insightful postscripts allow readers to reflect on the cases’ aftermaths—often to revealing effect, as when a planner of the interfaith center linked opposition to the project to cultural undercurrents that precipitated the later “rise of extremist voices and the era of Donald Trump.” Students of leadership and religious studies will find this instructive and enlightening. (Oct.)