Running Thread: A Nation of Bridgebuilders
September 19, 2022
Interfaith America was founded on a powerful core belief – religious diversity is a foundational American strength, and that strength can be leveraged to bring communities together for the common good.
This week, President Joe Biden affirmed the significance of this idea as he celebrated a new Interfaith America initiative, A Nation of Bridgebuilders, launched in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the YMCA of the USA at the White House United We Stand Summit.
The YMCA of the USA and Habitat for Humanity are exemplars of the best of what American civic institutions offer our nation. Both institutions create spaces where Americans come together on issues of shared concern to build relationships with one another, care for one another, and weave a stronger civic fabric. In a deeply divided America, Jonathan Reckford and Suzanne McCormick, chief executives of Habitat and the YMCA respectively, understand that their institutions have a vital role to play in bringing communities together by doing what they do best – creating stronger communities, one relationship at a time.
American Civic Life
American Civic Life
Interfaith America is proud to announce our new partnership with these best-in-class national institutions. Just as we have leveraged the potential of religious diversity to address other issues of pressing national concern, such as our ongoing COVID-19 vaccine outreach effort and our Vote is Sacred project, so too can we engage the power of religious diversity to address the crisis of polarization in our country. Together with partners like the Y and Habitat, we have the opportunity to engage new communities in using the skills of interfaith leadership to bring people together. With Habitat, that might include engaging religiously, racially, and ideologically diverse communities in service together followed by relationship-building conversations. With the YMCA, it might mean working to build the skills of listening into community-based programs. Within IA, we hope to expand our Bridging the Gap program which was profiled this week in Inside Higher Ed. All of these efforts add up to a lofty goal. As the President shared in his speech, A Nation of Bridgebuilders aims to train 10,000 leaders in the skills of bridgebuilding and host 1,000 bridgebuilding events in 300 communities across the nation.
The United We Stand Summit itself was also a tribute to the power of civic institutions in American life. The administration was responding to a letter from the National Urban League, the Anti-Defamation League, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, and the National Action Network calling on national leaders to take more proactive measures to prevent hate-based violence across the nation given its steady growth over the past several years. Throughout the Summit, victims and survivors of hate-based violence shared their stories in meaningful ways, often testifying to how their faith served as a source of hope and resilience in the face of profound violence and bigotry. In the second half of the event, federal agency heads and mayors from cities across the nation shared their own commitments to take action to address violent extremism in their communities. The event closed with recognition of local “uniters,” individuals who have played a role in bringing communities together on a local level. I encourage you to explore the stories of these uniters if you are looking for some inspiration this weekend.
I was honored to represent Interfaith America at the White House this week and even more honored to help shape these powerful partnerships that, we hope, can change the way Americans live and work together. As always, thank you for your partnership and support.
President Joe Biden speaking about the Nation of Bridgebuilders initiative at the United We Stand Summit.
At todays @WhiteHouse #UnitedWeStand Summit, @POTUS spoke about #InterfaithAmerica, @YMCA, & @Habitat_org “Nation of Bridgebuilders” Initiative as one of many new projects taking place across the nation helping to bring healing to our nation.— Interfaith America (@interfaithusa) September 15, 2022
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