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Interpreting Religious Pluralism: Comparative Research Among Christian, Muslim and Hindu Students in Tamil Nadu, India

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How do Christians, Muslims and Hindus interpret religions other than their own? The theoretical framework of the research is models of religious pluralism developed by scholars in the field of theology of religions, especially Knitter. The authors pay special attention to pluralistic models, which have so far remained rather unclear. Special attention is paid to gender as a factor influencing levels of agreement with models of religious pluralism. Empirical research undertaken among Christian, Muslim and Hindu college students in Tamil Nadu in 2003 reveals three common models of religious pluralism that can be found among the adherents of these traditions: monism, commonality pluralism, and differential pluralism. Christian and Muslim students have much the same approach to religious pluralism, measured according to these three models; Hindu students differ from both Christian and Muslim students. Especially among Muslim students gender influences the level of agreement with the monism and commonality models. The article concludes with a discussion of the fruitfulness of comparative research (among members of different religious traditions) based on models derived from Christian theology.


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