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Religious Diversity


The land now known as the United States has a long history of religious diversity, starting with the variety of spiritual and religious practices of the native peoples that continue to this day. Many European colonists traveled to North America in order to escape religious conflict and to be able to worship in the manner of their choosing. These colonists believed religious freedom to be so important and essential that they and their descendants enshrined the concept in colonial charters, state constitutions, and, eventually, the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." This legal protection of a fundamental human right has allowed religious diversity to enhance the cultural, social, and intellectual life of the United States.

Furthermore, as USD's Center for Inclusion and Diversity states, "As a Catholic institution, the University of San Diego seeks to represent the diversity and beauty of God’s creation as a way to understand and work to eliminate injustices on our campus, in our local community, and around the world. The University is committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive and collaborative community and values students, faculty and staff from different backgrounds and faith traditions. As a university committed to academic excellence, we strive to include diverse perspectives as a way of maximizing the transformative potential of learning, teaching, and scholarship."

This guide includes resources that explore religious diversity and its impact on the law.

Various religious symbols. 1st Row: Latin Cross, Star of David, Omkar (Aum). 2nd Row: Star and crescent, Cross pattée, Yin-yang. 3rd Row: Khanda, Ayyavazhi, Triple Goddess (or Diane de Poitiers).

Online Resources

Multimedia Resources

Books at USD