The Religious Alien

Paul J. Griffiths

in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195340136
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Religious Alien


Who are one's religious aliens, and what is to be done about them? These are among the more important questions raised by the facts of religious diversity. To call someone alien sounds neither welcoming nor affirming, connoting as it does both otherness and danger. A religious alien seems to inhabit a religious form of life that one does not take oneself to inhabit. One might make this judgment as a non-religious person; in this case, all those who do seem to inhabit a religious form of life are one's religious aliens. Or one might make it as a religious person, in which case, all and only those who seem to inhabit a religious form of life other than one's own are one's religious aliens. If a Gelug Buddhist chooses not to consider a Catholic Christian a religious alien, this suffices for the Catholic Christian not to be one, without further discussion of sortals such as Christianity and Buddhism. This article examines the following concepts: domestication, separation, toleration, and love's embrace.

Keywords: Christianity; Buddhism; religious alien; domestication; separation; toleration; love

Article.  6135 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Comparative Religion

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