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date: 12 April 2024

Religious Syncretism. 

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World
Erica MoretErica Moret

Religious syncretism is generally understood to be the process of exchange and interaction that occurs when two or more distinct belief systems are fused to create a new religion. The term may also be used to refer to an established religion that has adopted beliefs from other faiths. All religions can be considered syncretic to an extent, leading some to argue against the use of the term. Furthermore, the idea of religious syncretism has in the past been linked with pejorative connotations that have been used politically to illegitimatize, control, and even eradicate certain belief systems. Despite its contested nature, syncretism is nevertheless a useful concept through which to explore the ways in which cultures and religions transform themselves under the pressures of change; and it should be thought of as a dynamic process, rather than as a specific entity or definition. Major religions like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—as well as those that advocate notions of religious “purity” and orthodoxy—have frequently been hostile to idea of syncretism. Other religions such as Buddhism, however, have openly embraced the integration of new practices and beliefs within an existing system.... ...

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