Arizona Growth Poses Religious Challenge

October 1, 2008

Author: Peter Faur

Source: The Zonie Report

Arizona is set to experience religious growing pains after waves of new residents have made it more religiously diverse than ever.

But the subtle shift in demographics does not necessarily mean Arizonans will practice more religious tolerance, an expert says. If anything, they’ll have to work harder at building a consensus with these new worshipers.

“Religious diversity does not translate into religious tolerance,” says Reverend Jan Flaaten, executive director of the Arizona Ecumenical Council, which brings together Christian denominations and keeps dialogues going with Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities.

“I suspect that the first time a mosque erects a minaret, there will be a neighborhood cry to take it down,” he said. “The only way to work on these issues is to have constructive dialogue between the religious groups, including the young in our schools and all the members of our various congregations.”