Spirituality and religion are a fact of life. They appear in virtually every culture known to humans in some shape or form. But recent times have seen an upsurge in religious extremism. The name of `God' has been invoked to justify some of the most appalling acts - including the 9-11 bombings, communalist killings in Gujarat, the war on Iraq, and social violence especially against women and gay people. Can religion be a force for good and social change in the world today? Or is it, as some secularists believe, the most grave threat to democracy? At what point does wholesome spirituality become murderous fanaticism? And how are fundamentalist tendencies to be tackled-both within and outside faith systems?
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