T his is an age of interreligious encounter, made ever more so by an increasingly religiously plural world. As never before, representatives of the religions of the world are participating in interfaith endeavors and international meetings at which serious attention is being given to interfaith relations, religious liberty, and world peace. The role of religion in international affairs, which especially in the West is still given far too little attention in international relations, needs to be seen as a potentially major force in the advancement of religious liberty and world peace and in the building of a world community.
In contrast to today, from time immemorial interfaith encounters have been marked by conflict and discord, rooted in intolerance. The absoluteness or particularity of each religious tradition served to provide a religious foundation for intolerance. Since religion formed the basis of the identity of the nation or tribe, this religious identity also contributed to a political intolerance toward all religious dissent. To be a dissenter in religion was to be an enemy of the state; it was to be guilty of heresy and sedition simultaneously.
Although the record of tolerance is a tortuous one in the history of religions, there are clear teachings of tolerance among the world religions that must not be overlooked, but rather these teachings should serve as valuable reminders to their adherents today and form a basis for interfaith relations based upon mutual respect and goodwill.
In Hinduism, intolerance and persecution of alien faiths are expressly condemned. For centuries, its teachings have been so