What values do you think the religions share? What is your model of a plural society?

This passage is from the novel The Bonesetter’s Daughter:

Ruth who like her mother had fled from Communist China and settled in California, took her mother, who was beginning to suffer from dementia to the hospital out-patients. ‘In the hospital waiting room, Ruth saw that all the patients, except one pale balding man, were Asian. She read the blackboard listing of the doctor’s names: Fong, Wong, Wang, Tang, Chin, Pong, Kwak, Koo. The receptionist looked Chinese; so did the nurses. In the sixties, mused Ruth, people railed against race-differentiated services as ghettoization. Now they demanded them as culturally sensitive.’

What model of society do you have? Maybe, it is not something you have articulated. Do you have what might be called a unitary view of society in which newcomers are expected to fit in with the life-style of the majority or do you picture a plural society in which each group does its own thing? Perhaps there is a balance, which is suggested by the phrase a ‘Community of Communities.’

But first it is important to realise how many people are on the move – not just for work or holidays. A growing number of people now live in a country different from the one in which they were born…(Read more)

A Unitary Society
Here is an illustration of what is meant by a unitary society. Fifteen years ago, the House of Lord was debating religious education. One noble lady happened to say, ‘Of course, Britain is a Christian country’. Afterwards a Jewish peer, whose family had been in Britain for over one hundred and fifty years asked, ‘How long do you have to live here before you count as British?’ (Read more)

A Plural Society
By contrast, in a plural society the various ethnic and faith communities live separate lives. They may share geographical space, but not much more. Take Israel/Palestine as an example and this example pre-dates current hostilities. (Read more)

A Community of Communities.
Is it possible to bring together aspects of both the unitary and the plural models of society? Can you show real appreciation of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity and at the same time recognise unifying features and shared values? …(Read more)

In a plural society, it may also be necessary to get away from talk of a majority and a minority. The report The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain said, one needs to move away from the discourse of majority and minorities…(Read more)