About

Religions historically have followed similar trajectories of splintering into many sub-sects and different interpretations over time. New religions spring forth as a result of new revelations from God: for instance, God speaks to Moses and Judaism is founded; or the prophet Gabriel is sent to Muhammad, which eventually results in Islam. But prophets almost never seek to found new religions—more commonly, it is to correct the mistakes of existing ones. Given the immense amount of common ground we find even between entirely different religions, there is no reason why subsects within a particular religion should make such a huge fuss over minor differences. Yet history is unfortunately littered with far too many examples of people losing the forest for the trees, often with tragic consequences.

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Quotations

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.”

C.S. Lewis
Christian theologian and writer
Christianity

“One of the things Christians are disagreed about is the importance of their disagreements.”

Pascal Boyer
Cognitive anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“In the case of Christianity, the great difficulty at first was to decide exactly what the doctrine was. The essentials of the doctrine did not originate in a scholarly group but were those of a messianic, revolutionary movement, a loose federation of groups with not entirely compatible interpretations of not entirely similar accounts of the Revelation. When the movement did become an organized religious guild with great political leverage, this created a series of complex struggles between political factions that identified themselves in terms of these different interpretations of revelation and morality. Hence the long succession of Councils supposed to establish, once and for all, coherent foundations for the doctrine and therefore to determine who was in and who was out.”

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture
Islam

“As for those who have divided their religion and broken up into factions, have nothing to do with them [Prophet]. Their case rests with God: in time He will tell them about their deeds.”

Sefer Ha-Aggadah
Collection of Jewish writings
Judaism

“‘Do not break up into clusters’ (Deut. 14: 1). Do not form many [small]clusters, but all of you stay as one cluster. ‘Do not break up into clusters. ’Do not divide in dissent against one another, lest you bring about a ‘baldness’ within your number, as Korah did. He divided Israel, making them into many small clusters, and thus brought about a lrorhah, a ‘baldness,’ in Israel."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

“All races, tribes, sects and classes share equally in the Bounty of their Heavenly Father.”

Swami Vivekananda
Hindu monk
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“If I am sure of anything, it is of this humanity which is common to us all. It is through this generalised entity that I see you as a man or a woman. So it is with this universal religion, which runs through all the various religions of the world in the form of God; it must and does exist through eternity. ‘I am the thread that runs through all these pearls,’ and each pearl is a religion or even a sect thereof. Such are the different pearls, and the Lord is the thread that runs through all of them; only the majority of mankind are entirely unconscious of it.”

Baruch Spinoza
Enlightenment philosopher
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

"Schisms do not originate in a love of truth, which is a source of courtesy and gentleness, but rather in an inordinate desire for supremacy."

The Analects
Confucian Text
Confucianism

"The Superior Man is all-embracing and not partial. The inferior man is partial and not all-embracing."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

"A new religious principle is that prejudice and fanaticism -- whether sectarian, denominational, patriotic or political -- are destructive to the foundation of human solidarity; therefore, man should release himself from such bonds in order that the oneness of the world of humanity may become manifest."

Chuang Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism

“When the Tao is obscured by pettiness and the words are obscured by elaboration, then we end up having the ‘this is, this is not’ of the Confucians and Mohists, with what one of them calls reality being denied by the other, and what the other calls real disputed by the first. If we want to confound what they call right and confirm what they call right, we need to shed light on both of them.”

Taoteching
Daoist Text
Daoism

“The first distinction gives us names
Once we have a name
We should know restraint
Who knows restraint avoids trouble
To picture the Tao in the world
Imagine a stream and the sea”

Huston Smith
Scholar of religion
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

"All -isms end up in schisms."

Jonathan Sacks
British Orthodox Rabbi and author
Judaism

“Most conflicts and wars have nothing to do with religion. They are about power, territory, and glory, things that are secular, even profane. But if religion can be enlisted, it will be.”

Augustine of Hippo
Christian saint
Christianity

"There is nothing more serious than the sacrilege of schism because there is no just cause for severing the unity of the Church."

Mahatma Gandhi
Acknowledged by Indians as Father of the Nation
Hinduism

"To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means."

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture
Islam

“Hold fast to God’s rope all together; do not split into factions. Remember God’s favour to you: you were enemies and then He brought your hearts together and you became brothers by His grace; you were about to fall into a pit of Fire and He saved you from it– in this way God makes His revelations clear to you so that you may be rightly guided. Be a community that calls for what is good, urges what is right, and forbids what is wrong: those who do this are the successful ones.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV
Tibetan Buddhist leader and activist
Buddhism

"Sectarian feelings and criticism of other teachings or other sects is very bad, poisonous, and should be avoided."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV
Tibetan Buddhist leader and activist
Buddhism

"Many of our problems are created by ourselves based on divisions due to ideology, religion, race, resources, economic status or other factors. The time has come to think on a deeper, more human level and appreciate and respect our sameness as human beings [...] At every level of society, familial, tribal, national and international, the key to a happier and more peaceful and successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not necessarily need to become religious, nor even believe in an ideology. We need only to develop our good human qualities and know that love and compassion are the most essential concepts for human survival."

Swami Vivekananda
Hindu monk
Hinduism

"The varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good, so far as they encourage us to lead a religious life. The more sects there are, the more opportunities there are for making a successful appeal to the divine instinct in all of us."

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.” (Titus 3:1-11)

Universal House of Justice
Baha'i governing body
Baha'i

"The sundering of science and religion is but one example of the tendency of the human mind (which is necessarily limited in its capacity) to concentrate on one virtue, one aspect of truth, one goal, to the exclusion of others. This leads, in extreme cases, to fanaticism and the utter distortion of truth, and in all cases to some degree of imbalance and inaccuracy."