Archive for the ‘eboo patel’ tag
by Eboo Patel
from USA Today
The first time I heard my 3-year-old son say the Lord’s Prayer, I felt like a fraud. We are, after all, Muslim.
When I speak before audiences, one of the most frequent questions I get as the founder of an interfaith youth group is, “How young is too young for children to engage with kids from other religions?”
My answer is to tell the story of how babies are delivered in an American hospital. I imagine an institution founded by Jewish philanthropists, with a Muslim doctor presiding over delivery while a Hindu anesthesiologist administers the epidural and a Catholic nurse helps the mother.
My point is that in this era, the question of age when it comes to engaging religious diversity is moot. We are literally born into a condition of interfaith interaction. Our children will be raised in an environment of religious diversity — from a Mormon presidential hopeful, to Olympic athletes competing in Islamic head scarfs, to the images of a Wisconsin Sikh community mourning after a terrible attack.
by Paul Chaffee
from The Interfaith Observer
…Like other readers charmed by Ruth’s TIO articles each month, I knew her ‘story’ would be fascinating. Anyone meeting her quickly learns how much she loves her Jewish tradition and how, from that posture, she has become a promotional force of nature supporting grassroots interfaith engagement around the world.
Little did I guess, though, that Minefields & Miracles would be the best interfaith book published since Acts of Faith (2007) by Eboo Patel. Ruth and Eboo both grew up in Chicago and happen to share a remarkable capacity: their compelling personal stories read like can’t-put-it-down novels, all the while leading us through spiritual, religious questions, provoking us, teaching us, time and again inciting a-ha! moments. Ruth’s odyssey is a feast of extraordinary interfaith encounters resonating long after you leave a page.
Her high-level energy is evident from the start and never lets up. Expelled from college housing when administrators discover her Jewish heritage (the first of many “minefields”), a fierce sense of justice became her spiritual bone marrow. Graduating from college, she turned to journalism, choosing, as a beginner, the daunting route of independent international correspondent. Her goal: to identify, visit, and write about Jewish communities throughout Central and South America.
by David Bornstein
from the New York Times
Is there a way to overcome religious intolerance?
Given global demographic changes, it’s a vital question. “The most certain prediction that we can make about almost any modern society is that it will be more diverse a generation from now than it is today,” the political scientist Robert D. Putnam has written. “This is true from Sweden to the United States and from New Zealand to Ireland.”
In the United States, the question holds special significance for the simple reason that American society is highly religious and highly diverse and — on matters concerning faith — considerably more politically polarized than a quarter-century ago.
The United States prides itself on welcoming people of different faiths. The Bill of Rights begins with a guarantee of freedom of worship. In 1790, George Washington sent a letter to a Jewish congregation in which he expressed his wish that they “continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants,” and declared that the government “gives to bigotry no sanction.” In 2010, Mayor Bloomberg’s impassioned and courageous defense of the Cordoba House — the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” — became an important addition to a long and noble tradition of inclusion. (It’s a speech worth reading.)
But while there have been widespread efforts over the past generation to promote and celebrate ethnic and racial diversity — everything from “Sesame Street” to multicultural studies to work force sensitivity training — the one topic that has often been kept off the table is faith. Americans have grown more comfortable talking about race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, but not faith. It’s too personal, too divisive, too explosive. How do you conduct a productive conversation among people whose cherished beliefs — exclusive God-given truths — cannot be reconciled?
That’s a process that a Chicago-based organization called the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) has refined into something between an art and a science, demonstrating how to bring college students together across faith and belief lines so that they develop greater respect, comfort and appreciation for one another and their traditions.
from Huffngton Post
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was many things to many people, yet central to his identity was his role as a Christian pastor and religious leader.
Rev. King practiced his faith in a way that was both personal and public, pious and prophetic, and his commitment to pluralism and justice has influenced a generation of religious leaders from all faiths.HuffPost Religion is proud to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by offering these testimonies from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhists religious leaders on MLK’s influence upon them, and how he might influence all of us as well.
Read articles by:
Roshi Joan Halifax
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield
Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
Imam Mohamed Magid
Bishop T.D. Jakes
This program airs throughout December and will be online after Dec 18.
FINDING COMMON GROUND: TODAY’S INTERFAITH MOVEMENT looks at how the interfaith movement has evolved over the years.
The program visits with Rev. Dirk Ficca, Executive Director of the Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. The Parliament hosts the world’s largest interreligious gathering, meeting every five years in a different part of the world. People of every faith are invited to share their religious identities, dialogue and voice their hopes and concerns for the future.
One of the most interesting things about the modern interfaith movement, according to Rev. Ficca, is that cooperation among people of different faiths is more mainstream than ever. He says, “For me, it’s when a local imam and rabbi and Catholic priest in Downers Grove meet every Thursday for lunch and talk about how to get their three communities to know each other, and somehow replicating that all over the United States, all over the world. That’s where I put my hope.”
We also hear from Dr. Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) based in Chicago, Ill. This nonprofit organization was founded in 2002, based on the idea that the most powerful common ground between all faith traditions is the inspiration to serve others. Dr. Patel and his organization are working with the youth of today as a means to thwart religious extremism and encourage interfaith understanding and leadership. “I think the world looks different,” Dr. Patel says, “if America’s college campuses become models of interfaith cooperation and graduate a critical mass of interfaith leaders.”
When the White House announced the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge in March of this year, IFYC worked as an advisor and partnered to craft the nationwide program.
One of the schools participating in the President’s challenge is Albright College, a private liberal arts school in Reading, Penn. Rev. Paul Clark, the school’s chaplain, will be shepherding the project with a group of interfaith student leaders. He says, “If we can apply this kind of model of talking to one another, and then reaching out to the larger community, then something really important could happen here.”
Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Reading, Penn. has the largest share of residents living in poverty per capita. In an effort to help the marginalized, the religious community of Reading has come together and worked in partnership to help alleviate the symptoms of poverty. We hear from Rabbi Brian I. Michelson, Rabbi of Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom; Elsayed [Steve] Elmarzouky, President of the Islamic Center of Reading, and Michael J. Kaucher, Executive Director of the Reading Berks Conference of Churches, about how working together to serve their community has reinforced their belief in the need for interreligious dialogue and cooperation at the local level.
John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer. FINDING COMMON GROUND is produced in cooperation with the National Council of Churches, Consortium of Roman Catholic organizations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Union of Reform Judaism and the New York Board of Rabbis.
by Jaweed Kaleem
Religious leaders are responding to President Barack Obama’s much-anticipated speech on the Middle East, in which the president said that “all faiths must be respected” and suggested “bridges be built among them.”
Much of the sweeping speech addressed political and economic issues in light of recent democratic movements in the majority-Muslim region. Obama promised U.S. support for democracy, human rights and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But Obama, who famously addressed the Muslim world from Cairo University in two years ago in a speech focused on Islam, also discussed religion several times in Thursday’s comments.
“We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders — whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran,” Obama said in the hour-long speech.
From The Washington Post
Seeing the Egyptian protests on American media may lead you to believe that this is an Iranian-style revolution, with a probable result being an Islamic regime. However, when you look at the details of what is happening on the ground, this is an interfaith movement.
Since 2006, I have been frequenting Egypt, spending a month or more at a time staying and working with locals in Cairo and Alexandria. It was in Egypt when I got inspired to found World Faith, and it’s become a second home for me.
Broken messages from my Egyptian friends spiked an unparalleled mix of awe, fear and excitement. While a popular revolution was only a matter of time, the somewhat minute ignition was surprising to say the least. As we’d say, if Egypt was full of Iranians, they would have revolted 10 years ago.
But it’s not, and as my friend Haroon Moghul outlined, it is not Iran nor an Islamic movement. Whether the restrictions put on Christians for interfaith marriages or conversion, or the government’s strong crackdown on devout Muslims are an attempt to punish the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood), religion has oftentimes stood as a tool of division in Egypt.
Many assume that the Ikhwan would become the dominant player in the protests, they were slow to formally join, recognizing that their explicit support would damage the movement. They even went so far as to release a statement Saturday explicitly stating that they have no desire to lead an interim government, but would rather participate in a multiparty democratic political system. Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mohammed el-Baradei has become the inpromptu voice of the people, who stated that Egypt needs a new government “based on freedom, democracy and social justice.”
The protests have demonstrated explicit interfaith components. It was only a few weeks ago that Egyptian Muslims attended Christmas mass with their Christian neighbors and friends as human shields after the deadly attack on a Coptic church. Mohamed El-Sawy, whose cultural center has hosted World Faith Cairo events, said of faith relations in Egypt, “We either live together or we die together.” Returning the favor, Christians stood guard at mosques across Egypt while their Muslim friends finished their Friday prayers before the day’s protests. When a few demonstrators began chanting “Allahu Akbar,” others convinced them to join together: “Muslim, Christian, we’re all Egyptian!”
From America Magazine
The subject line of the e-mail read: “Ten reasons Muslims can’t be Americans.” The young Christian woman, who had received the chain message from a fellow member of a church committee, knew the content of the e-mail was full of lies. She chose to respond—kindly, respectfully—with the truth. As she typed her reply she drew on her experience working at the Interfaith Youth Core. As an intern with the organization she collaborated with Muslims on a daily basis, befriended Muslims, and participated in dialogue and service with them. She clicked “send” and hoped for the best.
The response from her fellow committee members was not as kind, however. Many were angered by her response and told her so. The young woman now attends a different church, but she doesn’t regret her actions.
The courage and commitment to truth displayed by the young woman is the kind Eboo Patel hoped to foster when he co-founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 1998, at the age of 22. The Core—spelled this way to represent its place at the center of a larger movement—works to provide the tools and support college students need to become leaders in interreligious dialogue. These leaders, Patel says, are young men and women “who have the framework, the knowledge base and the skill set to bring people from different religions together to build understanding and cooperation.” In light of the ongoing and much-publicized controversy surrounding Park51, the proposed Islamic center a few blocks from Ground Zero in New York City, as well as the anti-Islam protests popping up in cities across the country, these skills are especially needed today.