What does interfaith America mean to you?
Simply put, interfaith America means we are better together. Interfaith is ultimately about respect for diverse identities, relationships across those identities, and collaborating on the common good. In an interfaith America, you don’t have to water down your identity to come to the table of interfaith cooperation – whether you’re an evangelical, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or an atheist, you don’t have to compromise what you believe (or what you don’t believe) to be part of interfaith America. We may not agree about who gets into heaven or if heaven exists at all. We may be divided across political lines. But we
can all agree that everyone ought to have access to clean water and high-quality education, that no child should go hungry, that civic spaces like parks, sports leagues and libraries are vital for healthy communities. And those things we can agree on? We should tackle them together – because when we start from a place of shared values, we show that we are truly better together – which is the best of what it means to be interfaith America. Amber Hacker , Vice President of Operations and Finance
Interfaith America to me is a nation, an idea really, constantly remaking itself. At its best the nation exists in a healthy tension on the continuum of individuals and community, autonomy and interdependence, diversity and cohesion. Interfaith America is the invitation for everyone to contribute and to be cared for. I can’t tell you the number of people I have had conversations with recently who expressed such deep love and hope and pain and fear for this nation, constantly remaking itself while also mired in ugly patterns of disregard, disrespect and injustice. I know glimpses of interfaith America are being realized in pockets around the nation every day and I celebrate that spirit and that constant becoming.
Becca Hartman , Director of Program Resourcing
To me “interfaith America” is a reminder that religious diversity, and all the challenges and beauty that comes with it, is core to American identity.
Carolyn Roncolato , Director of Academic Initiatives
An interfaith America means that we are working together to improve dialogues and create bridges between faiths. My interfaith America means building communities with sacred traditions to help reshape what justice and equity look like in America. An interfaith America supports the belief that everyone in America has rights, and freedoms and that fostering connections between faiths can create solutions and build bonds. Becoming an interfaith America will repair some of the cracks at the foundation of our country.
Orly Zinkow , Executive Assistant & Events Consultant
Interfaith America is a place of hope to end inequalities in American society. Gross injustices have been done to marginalized communities in the past, and these injustices still exist in society in some way or the other. Many immigrants, like me, fled from their home countries to make America their home in a hope of getting peace and justice, and without sacrificing their own traditional and religious values. Interfaith America empowers oppressed members of society to value their individual identities and to feel good about them. To me, our Interfaith America’s programs and services are true illustration of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that, “The Arab has no superiority over the non-Arab, nor has the non-Arab any superiority over the Arab, nor do the whites have any preference over the dark colored people, save of course, through righteousness, honesty, integrity, learning and other intrinsic qualities.”
Nadia Salam , Controller
At a recent protest, I encountered an older woman with a sign that said, “Ruth sent me.” She appeared exasperated to be spending her golden years protesting a supreme court decision. I couldn’t help but think of the late matriarch who ultimately sent me to occupy the same street corner. My grandmother Elsie Carol was a devout Lutheran who faithfully attended her conservative church every Sunday and spoke her mind seven days a week. One day she turned on CNN as she completed some chores, and when George Bush appeared onscreen, I parroted something I’d heard at church about his prolife stance. She calmly continued making the bed, and explained that she was a Christian, but that our religious beliefs had no place in other people’s medical decisions. For me, interfaith America is in those moments. My grandmother asserted her belonging to her tradition, her disagreement with its doctrine, and her commitment to others’ rights for the rest of her life. She made room to hold those dualities, and America can too.
Gracie Webb , Program Assistant
Interfaith America means a nation of citizens animated by a deep and generative curiosity about each other. It is a society where the instinctual response to disagreement is a desire for understanding, bridgebuilding, and the hard work of crafting as much common ground as is possible. Only once all of our neighbors across society are truly thought of as neighbors – dignified people with unique gifts to contribute and with distinct and valid needs – can we really celebrate an “Independence Day” without the bitter knowledge that we are not all free nor independent. Too many people still suffer under the same yokes that animated the founders: repression and oppression, fear and hunger, lack of political agency or the means to secure personal well-being. Interfaith America does not yet exist, but piece by piece, block by block, human conversation by human conversation, we can build it.
Noah Silverman , Senior Director of Learning
In my interfaith America, we are all inspired to be the best versions of ourselves for one another. What does this look like?
It looks like LOVE. When all of us enact our distinct values from a place of love—not fear—we can make the world a little better, especially for those who struggle most.
It looks like HUMILITY. When we acknowledge there is much we don’t fully understand—about ourselves, others, or the world around us—we are better equipped to navigate the space between black and white.
It looks like COURAGE. When we speak out against systems designed to harden our hearts—or people who prioritize egoism over humility—we embolden others to do the same.
Being the best versions of ourselves for one another. That’s what interfaith America means to me.
Shauna Morin , Strategic Initiatives Consultant
Interfaith America is a call to antiquity, reality, and potentiality. Across America, people from all world traditions are living, breathing, loving, and practicing their respective traditions. Schoolchildren are taught that the earliest ambitions of our country were founded upon the ideal of securing religious freedom for all. We proclaim our status as protectors of religious freedom, despite our historical record of using religion and violence against the disenfranchised and minority populations. These children have grown up to recognize and dismantle the chasm between the American narrative of pluralism and the reality of oppression of minority religions. As seen most clearly in the recent Supreme Court opinions, the past is repeating itself. However, I find hope in the activism and leadership of the younger generations in response to school shooting epidemic, COVID-19 practices, and attacks on reproductive rights. The children are leading us; it is on us to follow in their courageous examples to protect the rights of all Americans. Interfaith America is not simply an ideal; it is an intricately woven narrative framed by our past, present, and a future of a rich democracy.
Kaitlyn Dalton , Program Assistant