heresy (her-i-se); n; An opinion or a doctrine at variance with established religious beliefs… – Free Online Dictionary
A Pew survey in the UK indicates that there is far greater diversity within religions (and the non-religious) and far greater similarity between religions (and the non-religious) than is commonly portrayed in public discussions. Take a look at the highly contentious issue of abortion limits (an issue on which religious opinion is often portrayed as monolithic):
Even the religions that are somewhat distinct are biased toward “Don’t Know” rather than an extreme position on the issue.
It is notable that the opinions of the religious folks in this survey are diverse despite the official teachings of some of these religions explicitly endorsing a “correct” answer. The members of the religion may fiercely defend their faith, but they also can feel rather free to disagree with their leadership, whether they are technically “allowed to” or not.
This is not a new revelation to anyone who has spent a substantial amount of time interacting with the actual members of many different religious denominations and creeds.
It is time we realize that the “spokespeople” for religions (and atheism) are about as representative of the people in their religion as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is for some of us in the Palmetto State.
Kenan Malik has a lot more about this survey over at his blog Pandaemonium.
*Hat tip to that Ed Yong.