Religions are not philosophies. Nor are they collections of poetry. Even though they can be looked at through these lenses. They are world views.
It is easy to be seduced by the good feelings aroused when people of two different faiths engage in what is called interfaith dialogue in order to foster the safety of religious pluralism, but these events are themselves an intellectual repression, veering away from the differences, that would normally be negligible, if it weren’t for the presence, in religion, of the notion of faith.
When spiritualists share their appreciation of religious texts, as if these texts were works of poetry, they have subverted the reality of the text and performed the same sin of simplification as the zealot. They are, for the purposes of convenience, dismissing the very profound political contexts out of which these religions emerged, and by doing so often have to steer clear of much of the actual religion, in order to hold onto their smaller prettier form of the idol. Religions make claims on our behavior and on our beliefs, and on our relationships with one another and our societies. Those who whitewash them only prolong peoples’ spiritual search, by avoiding the uncomfortable fact of religious irreconcilability. Those that celebrate different religions with one another are like fans of two different sports teams attending the same pep rally. When push comes to shove, they all want to wear the ring.
I am not an atheist. In fact, I find the growth of passionate atheism in the West distasteful and intellectually dull. But, I do think religions are a mixture of politics, metaphysics, intuitions and wisdoms that are trapped in time, and that they should be treated as such. You cannot both believe in one religion and tolerate another, and this is why I am critical of those who attempt to ‘protect’ religious plurality. If you believe in some ancient text as having magical properties, then you ought to argue forcefully for its legitimacy. If you are not arguing for it, I conclude you don’t really believe in it. You just feel kind of sorry for its passing. And I will admit to that myself.