Religious Pluralism and Sustainable Development in Nigeria
Religious pluralism implies a diverse variety and multiplicity of faiths found to exist simultaneously in a given society. The beauty of these religions in their respective distinctiveness, even as they uphold and teach variegated divine sparks of the incomprehensible Supreme Being (God), is seen when they inclusively work together in one purposeful and concerted effort to unfold (de-envelope) the naturalness which humanity must conquer in order to be termed: developed. The platforms and bridges of religious inclusivism, ecumenism and tolerance lead naturally to greater freedoms, self-actualization, civilization and peace which are critical components of sustainable development. Religious pluralism has inherent integrative powers to transform the society positively. However, historical experiences reveal that societies which tie political battle for supremacy, socio-economic dominance and cultural superiority complex to their religions breed developmental crises. One example of such a specimen is Nigeria. The interactions between the three dominant religions in Nigeria, namely: Christianity, African Traditional Religion and Islam have been largely governed by divisiveness, hatred, bigotry and violence. The consequence is developmental deficits. This paper strove to discuss the integrative value of religious pluralism which brings sustainable development. It also examined exclusivity as a common possible weakness of religious pluralism which destroys the integral growth of peoples and nations. The methodology employed in this work is historic-descriptive which means that the relationship patterns of the three religions in Nigeria and their impacts on sustainable development were studied over time guided by the progressive value of religion. Finally, the paper recommended the need to eschew religious absolutism or totalitarianism, and secularity of constitutions to be upheld among others to promote the harnessing of the gains of religious diversity.
Key Words: Religious pluralism, Exclusivity, Inclusivity, Sustainable development, Nigeria.