Some thoughts on religious moderation, from Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation.
Many religious moderates have taken the apparent high road of pluralism, asserting the equal validity of all faiths, but in doing so they neglect to notice the irredeemably sectarian claims of each. As long as a Christian believes that only his baptized brethren will be saved on the Day of judgement, he can not possibly “respect” the beliefs of others, for he knows that the flames of hell have been stoked by the very ideas and awaits their adherence even now. Muslims and Jews generally take the same arrogant view of their own enterprise and have spent millennia passionately reiterating the errors of other faiths. It should go without saying that these rival belief systems are all equally uncontaminated by evidence.
While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence. The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything critical to be said about the religious literalism. We can not say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their freedom of belief; we can not even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scriptures is generally unrivaled. […]
Unless the core dogmas of faith are called into question – i.e. that we know there’s a God, and that we know what he wants from us – religious moderation will do nothing to lead us out of wilderness.