Religions are Internally Diverse

Jewish men playing chess outside

This assertion is a truism but requires explanation due to the common ways that religious traditions and practices are frequently portrayed as uniform.  Aside from the obvious formal differences within traditions represented by differing sects or expressions (e.g., Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant for Christianity; Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, for Hinduism, etc.) there are differences within sects or expressions because religious communities function in different social/political contexts.  One example is the debate mentioned above regarding the roles of women in Islam.  The following assertions are also commonly repeated: “Buddhists are nonviolent”, “Christians oppose abortion”, “Religion and science are incompatible”, etc.  All of these comments represent particular theological assertions as opposed to factual claims representing the tradition itself.