This is the culture of multiculturalism. It's premises, briefly stated, are as follows:
- You may believe anything you like, provided that you accept that your beliefs may be wrong.
- Rational discourse based upon solid evidence shall be the sole mode of discourse in the establishment of the truth. Anything outside this is mere opinion. You may not dictate to others what they must believe, nor employ force to spread your beliefs.
- You may choose to partake in the arts and customs of any culture within the limitations laid out by the law, but you have no power to force anyone else to do the same.
- No governmental agency may act to encourage or discourage any religious belief or lack thereof.
This position is the high water mark of human civilization. By extension, it might be better if we abolished religion altogether. It is, after all, not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and encourages a great deal of muddy, wishful, magical thinking, not to mention some extremely dangerous irrational behaviour. The ethical component so often touted as the primary incentive to preserve religion is a cunard. Religion is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for moral behaviour, and it encourages as many sins as it does virtues. But it is foolish to insist on this position, simply because religion is encouraged and supported by a host of emotional motives and cognitive disfunctions that are apparently endemic to the human mind. I've prepared a list of these, but they are too many to go into here. Suffice it to say that it takes more effort and dedication than most people are willing to spend to rid themselves of it, and even most atheists have arrived at their position without much thought. Religion is not going to go away.
At the same time, the essentially secular attitude upon which multiculturalism is based can, should, and will defend itself against all challengers. These challengers will espouse some form of orthodoxy, whether religious or secular. Political correctness in all its variations are as much a form of orthodoxy as Christianity or Islam; the views of a confirmed Marxist or free market proponent will often rival the staunchest fundamentalist for pigheaded rigidity. Even postmodernism is a form of orthodoxy; defending its positive assertions with the sophistry of relativism, postmodernists dodge counterarguments by denying all truth, only to sneak back and try to establish their own opinions as the final word.
Multiculturalism amounts to the admission that you can't control what people think, nor should you try. It's a broader form of a tolerance for eccentricity. The tolerance ends, though, when it is abused and taken for weakness, when the broad social contract that underlies it is ignored or exploited. Then we remember why we chose this ironic attitude towards beliefs of all kinds. Our own history demonstrates how, given the chance, religion becomes tyranny. We may not be able to get rid of it, but at least we can prevent it from taking over.