American Civic Life

2023 Wrap: Top 10 ‘Interfaith America with Eboo Patel’ Episodes 


We talked, you listened.  

Since our podcast, Interfaith America with Eboo Patel, launched in October 2022, over 14,000 people have tuned in from around the country and downloaded the show 20,000 times.  

Inspired by the Islamic concept of “Deen and Dunya” or “Faith and the World,” our podcast explores how our religious understanding of the world informs how we live and work together. Host Eboo Patel speaks with a rotating guest list of civic leaders and bridgebuilders working in diverse sections of American civic life like Hollywood, academia, politics, and beyond.  

Here are the most listened to episodes from Season 1 and Season 2. 

Season 1: Top 5 

1. What happens when academic and religious freedom conflict?  
A classic painting of the Prophet Muhammad ignited a controversy at Hamline University in Minnesota. A panel of experts weighs in on the lessons learned. 

2. How do we live together when we profoundly disagree? 
Scholar and attorney john a. powell shares how a childhood marked by rupture inspired a life dedicated to building bridges. 

3. Can a Jewish awakening inspire America? 
Rabbi Joshua Stanton and Rabbi Ben Spratt report on a resurgence in American Judaism and what it says about American religious life. 

4. How do our beliefs inspire us to build a diverse democracy? 
Four panelists, grounded in their faith communities and ethical traditions, discuss how their beliefs provide hope and inspiration to build a diverse democracy. 

5. How can religious pluralism defeat the forces of polarization? 
Robert P. Jones, founder and president of the religion research firm PRRI, warns about the resurgence of Christian white nationalism. 

Season 2: Top 5 

1. Is There a Better Way to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)? 
Kwame Anthony Appiah, NYT columnist, shares how he deals with religious intolerance and homophobia while building a more tolerant nation. 

2. How Do We Remain Bridgebuilders During Times of War? 
Amanda Ripley, journalist and co-founder of Good Conflict, a media and training company that helps people reimagine conflict, discusses how to resolve high conflict amid a war abroad. 

3. What Does Religion Look Like in Hollywood? 
Prominent Hollywood actor, writer, and producer Rainn Wilson discusses his Baha’i faith, the skepticism about religion in Hollywood, and why he thinks the country is due for a spiritual reawakening.   

4. Is the Concept of ‘Victimhood’ Detrimental to Free Speech? 
Playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Ayad Akhtar discusses the meaning of marginalization and its implications for claiming power and disrupting systems. 

5. Can Evangelical Christians Develop Safe Spaces for Diversity? 
Religion and law professor John Inazu reflects on the complexity of identity within the evangelical Christian community and how it impacts our democracy. 

Staff picks

Becca Hartman Pickerill's Headshot

Becca Hartman-Pickerill, Senior Director of Democracy Initiatives, shares that her favorite episode is: Is the Project of Democracy Fundamentally About Power Sharing? In this conversation, Harvard Political scientist Danielle Allen discusses the role of power, agency, and religious identities in reinvigorating American democracy. 

Pickerill says, “Eboo likes to say, “build a more beautiful social order.” I love Eboo and Danielle’s conversation because in the back and forth we hear a rich and respectful wrestling with how to achieve that goal. Knowing what we do about human behavior and psychology, these two great thinkers (and doers!) engage past, present, and future anchored in each of their own stories and seeking a healthy wholeness for the nation.” 

Olivia Whitener, Foundation Relations Manager, also chose this episode as her favorite. She shares, “At one point, Eboo says, “Let’s have some fun with this. Let’s push some of the intellectual edges of this.,” which highlights the energy and depth of thinking that I appreciate about this conversation. And Danielle Allen’s framing of “democratic renovation” that “supports the empowerment of all” is a call to work and democratic engagement that I think we all need to heed.” 

Amar Peterman, Program Manager, says his favorite episode is: What Was the Role of Religion in The Civil Rights Movement? In this conversation, Jonathan Eig, American journalist, biographer, and author of ‘King: A Life,’ joins Eboo to discuss the role of religion in the civil rights movement.  

Peterman shares, “As someone who studied American religious history, I am always fascinated by how figures like the Rev. Dr. King are treated and re-treated in tomes like King: A Life. Having Eig, a Jewish writer, brilliantly tell the story of King as an activist and a pastor, and then talk with Eboo, an Ismail Muslim, about it all is interfaith work at its best. 

Rollie Olson, Program Manager, chose john a. powell’s episode, How do we live together when we profoundly disagree?, as his favorite.  

Olson shares, “I wasn’t surprised when the Interfaith America with Eboo Patel podcast showed up on my 2023 Spotify Wrapped list of top podcasts – as a top 4% listener too. The episode that sticks in my mind is Eboo’s conversation with john. a. powell about his spiritual journey that led him to bridgebuilding work. john’s story of his relationship with his father, a Christian minister, who he had a profound disagreement with on their spiritual beliefs but always admired as a person who radiated love – a love that came from his faith, moved me to better understand the beauty of interfaith bridgebuilding.”