November 14, 2023

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.

In This Episode...

Prominent law and religion professor John Inazu discusses the political flip-flop of conservative Christians in America, the role of evangelical Christians in creating safe spaces, and the importance of navigating differences with empathy and respect.

About John Inazu

John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion and holds a joint appointment in the Washington University Law School and the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.

Inazu’s scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion and related legal and political theory questions. Inazu is the special editor of a volume on law and theology published in Law and Contemporary Problems, and his articles have appeared in several law reviews and specialty journals. He has written broadly for mainstream audiences in publications including USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.

Can Evangelical Christians Develop Safe Spaces for Diversity?


Eboo Patel: This is the Interfaith America Podcast, and I’m Eboo Patel. 


[00:00:13] Eboo: Right now, there’s a stereotype that evangelical Christians are Trump devotees, but the truth of the matter is a lot more interesting and nuanced. Take, for example, the late theologian Tim Keller, a committed evangelical Christian and also a champion of inclusion, or consider my good friend and collaborator John Inazu, who is a professor of law and political philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and a committed Christian. As a senior fellow at Interfaith America, John has launched two projects with largely evangelical Christian groups. One is the Newbegin Fellows Program and the other we call Christians in a Religiously Diverse Democracy. 

In this podcast, John and I talk about what it means to be a civic interfaith leader working particularly with evangelical communities in a religiously diverse society, advancing both the roots and identities of that community and also American pluralism. We touch on John’s work as an academic political philosopher, we touch on some legal theory, and we do a lot of talking about the contemporary state of interfaith work. Let’s begin with this. John, just tell us a bit about your upbringing and your family history. 

[00:01:33] John Inazu: Sure. First I should say, Eboo, it’s delightful to be with you in Interfaith America. I love our friendship and our partnerships and glad to be with you here today. A principal part of my biography is I grew up as a military brat, so my dad was in the army. We moved all the time. I think I lived in 10 places before college. In terms of the faith piece of that, it meant that every two to three years, we’d be uprooting and I’d be in a new church community so we are parts of different Christian Protestant denominations throughout my upbringing. 

As I was reflecting on this, it also means I was not ever rooted somewhere in an embedded community for that long, so there’s no core throughline of my formation. It’s not like I was with the Southern Baptists for 15 years or the Lutherans for that long either. It’s a hodgepodge of it all. Then I suppose another thing about my upbringing, I’ve got one brother, he’s 22 months younger than I am, and my mom and my dad, my dad, who’s since passed away. We moved so much that I would always find myself just making friends and then having to give them up. 

One of the lessons I probably take from my childhood is that I don’t take friendships for granted. I’ve had many seasons, especially as a kid, where I showed up somewhere and I had no friends and had to learn how to make them again, and so I value and take seriously the friendships in my life, including you. 

[00:02:58] Eboo: I can attest to that. John, you recently visited Manzanar. It wasn’t a tourist visit, it was a family heritage visit. You want to share some of that? 

[00:03:09] John: Yes, sure. My dad was born in Manzanar, one of the Japanese internment camps during World War II. My grandparents, his mom and dad, were American citizens. My grandfather had graduated from Berkeley before the war and was working as an engineer in Santa Monica when they were all incarcerated. My dad, the first three years of his life were in first Manzanar and then Tule Lake after the family had been relocated there. I’ll say I was in Newport Beach when I drove to Manzanar. I guess you could say I was in the area, but it’s really three and a half hours away because nothing is close to Manzanar. 

For anyone who knows of it or has been out there, it’s the middle of the California desert next to nothing. It was extraordinary, one of the most extraordinary moments I’ve had in the last few years to see the actual site where my grandmother and grandfather raised my dad and his four siblings and cared for her in-laws at the same time in this very closed quarters surrounded by barbed wire and people with machine guns. As much as I’d read about it and heard the stories in my family, there was something very vivid and very personal about standing on that ground. 

[00:04:29] Eboo: I remember we were teaching together in the last months of your dad’s life. I remember you would make visits to Colorado every six weeks or so to visit him. It was obviously a challenging time for you, and a time where I felt especially close to you and the importance of our friendship. We happened to be on stage at Sarah Lawrence College together not long after your dad passed away, and you made this comment. You said, “My dad wasn’t held as a baby.” 

You don’t hold your babies in Manzanar and it took my breath away. It took my breath away. It must have affected your life, right? Your educational journey, your career trajectory, your faith journey, your relationship with the nation. Do you want to talk about that a little bit? 

[00:05:16] John: Yes. Thanks for bringing up that moment. That was a powerful recognition for me. I think especially as my dad, who died of lung cancer, in his last few months, there was not much he could do, and so I spent a lot of time just holding him and being near him in a way that I rarely had in my earlier childhood or adult life. The realization of the stark contrast that nobody had done that for him at the beginning of his life because my grandmother was just trying to make it with all of these other kids and responsibilities. 

I do think that was way before I was born and yet still has a profound effect on my own sense of identity, certainly the way that we were raised, my dad’s own complicated relationship to the country. One interesting thing about being raised in that family, my dad, who’s fully Japanese, never really saw himself as Japanese first. He was an army officer and we were an army family, and that’s what came through the most. 

We didn’t speak Japanese. I don’t think he even knew a word of [chuckles] Japanese from his own upbringing. We know there wasn’t much Japanese culture in our house, but there was a lot of the army and the patriotism. I think it mattered a great deal to him, the patriotism piece of it. I myself was in the Air Force for four years and have a similar appreciation, although I have also a wariness of some of the patriotic stuff too, as you know. 

What I’ll say about the experience overall of my dad’s history and my grandparents is, as someone who now studies and writes about civil liberties, I’m always a little cautious and suspicious of whoever’s holding power, regardless of who it is. I have a distrust and a suspicion of anyone who holds the reins of power because we’ve seen examples of both parties and of really sometimes well-intended people abusing that power to great degrees. 

One of the things that very few people realize is that the architects of the Japanese internment were the civil rights icons of the 1950s and ’60s. Earl Warren and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, those were the people making the internment camps happen. When you realize that, suddenly it casts them all in a different light, that all of us are prone to these fears, these anxieties, these abuses of power. 

[00:07:46] Eboo: You’ve said to me a number of times, “My dad was the kind of military guy who never questioned the nation.” To think that somebody who spent his first years in Manzanar would become that kind of person suggests that our identities are complex, and you can never guess from somebody’s external identity, like the outermost Russian nesting doll, so to speak, what all the inner ones look like. I appreciate that in your scholarship, I appreciate that in our friendship conversations. I think if there’s one community in which identity complexity is perhaps most starkly in relief right now, it’s the evangelical Christian community. Let’s turn our attention to that. 

How would you describe the position of more evangelically-oriented Christians in the United States right now? I want to frame this question with the passing of Tim Keller, a highly regarded, intellectually-oriented evangelical pastor, theologian, writer, and the formal announcement that Donald Trump is running for president again. These two things happened within just a few weeks of each other. I’m curious if we can frame the complexity of evangelically oriented Christians in America within those two bookends, so to speak, or within that frame. 

[00:09:01] John: Yes. It’s a great question. I think I have to back into it, though, by returning to my own racial identity first. As we were getting ready for this podcast, you texted me and you gave me the thumbs-up emoji, dark-colored thumbs up. It made me think, “I don’t even know what color thumb to use given my biracial identity. When am I white? When am I Japanese? What do I project by using one or the other?” It’s this confounding sense of my own racial identity. I mention that because some of the questions you’re asking about evangelicals are pretty particular to white evangelicals as a kind of intersectional description of a subset of Christians. 

That’s because a lot of other Christians who might otherwise identify as something like evangelical but who aren’t in these largely white denominations or communities have had a very different experience with America, with Christianity. When you look at the Black church, when you look at a lot of immigrant churches, certainly a lot of Asian American churches, they’re differently situated than the kinds of churches that are going to be most receptive to the issues that you just named. Having said that, there’s an adjacency to all of this, and so there’s a resonance with what you’re talking about. 

You mentioned Tim Keller, who was a friend and mentor of mine and someone I deeply respected. When I look at not only his voice but the way that he modeled a Christian engagement with the world around him and with the people in this country, it’s very hard to think about who replaces him with the same gravitas and stature and life that Tim shared. It is a key moment, I think, in this subset of evangelical culture. 

Then to bring up the impending presidential election and the effect of Trump, I think this was another extremely significant moment for evangelicalism in America. We could talk a long time just about this, but probably one of the headlines would have to be the political flip-flop of a lot of especially conservative Christian leaders who back in the Clinton years were talking about the importance of morality and character to national leaders. By 2016 and Trump, that was off the table, and they were making really confounded and somewhat deeply inconsistent arguments as to why suddenly Trump was the guy to vote for. 

There were a lot of splits around this, splits in families and friendship circles and ministries and denominations. There’s an intergenerational or a generational piece to all of this as well that’s very interesting to think about. This is a moment and I think especially for the subset of evangelical Christians who let’s just say for many decades in this country have assumed a cultural baseline of knowledge that people would understand who they were and who they are. 

That you could walk into a church service, a school, or a grocery store, and pretty much everybody would have a basic sense of what Christianity is. They could name maybe the four gospels, so they would know something about the influence of Christianity on this country. That’s changing and it’s changing rapidly, and there are a lot of emotions and tensions and fears wrapped up in those changes. That’s the, I think, internal reflection and also, frankly, power struggles and power grabs that we see happening right now in evangelical culture. 

[00:12:43] Eboo: Let’s just pause here for a second because one of the things about evangelicals is you’re not like Latter-day Saints in the sense that you’re not assigned to a ward or a stake. You don’t have to go to this church, you choose, and so you can choose Donald Trump as your guy, or you can choose Tim Keller as your guy. We all know who Trump is. Tell us who Tim Keller is in just a few words. What made Tim Keller such an archetype of a particular kind of Christianity to a small segment of the Christian world? Then my follow-up question is, why don’t more people choose Tim Keller over Trump in your world? 

[00:13:20] John: [chuckles] Yes. 

[00:13:22] Eboo: Let’s start with who Tim was. 

[00:13:24] John: There’s so much that I can say about Tim as a person. He had a rare ability to translate complex ideas with absolute clarity and coherence to his audience. When he started Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan in the ’80s, he knew that his audience wouldn’t understand him. I think part of his overall posture was presuming that he would have to make the case for what he was saying, but he would have to win over the audience in front of him. That shapes you to be a different communicator but also a different person. I think very importantly, Tim was someone for whom celebrity never went to his head. He was very successful later in life. 

That’s probably a key point. He publishes his first book when he is 58 years old, and there are so many 20-somethings and 30-somethings right now who think they have to be the next Tim Keller and write their first book in their 30s. Maybe one piece of advice is if you want to be the next Tim Keller, wait until you’re almost 60 to publish your first book. There’s something to this sense of maturity around the attention that Tim garnered that he just never seemed to take it that seriously. 

That posture, both clear communication and a real genuine humility, makes you a different kind of leader and positions you to engage with culture and those around you in a different way. I think part of this was also while Tim had a deep confidence in his faith and the message of the Christian Gospel, he was always curious to learn from other people and to hear challenges to his own beliefs, and that’s a very different alternative. 

[00:15:10] Eboo: It just seems to me that this is an interesting cultural text of the community. It’s an interesting sign of where things are. 

[00:15:19] John: Yes. During the last year of Tim’s life, we were talking about the challenges of Christian formation and discipleship. How do you actually look at a generation of Christians, and through their habits and practices and what they do in the world, help them reflect what you understand to be the message of the Christian gospel? Importantly there, what I’m emphasizing is what you do, what those habits are are not necessarily what you say you believe. 

I think what we’ve seen for a whole large segment of people who’ve been formed, who identify with this evangelical culture, we’re realizing that what has formed them is not the Christian gospel or the Christian message or participation in Christian practices, but it’s formation by social media and formation by Fox News and formation by echo chambers. Evangelicals aren’t the only ones who are beholden to these kinds of echo chambers, but they’ve shown the world the deep impact of those kinds of formation. At the end of the day, it’s more of a cultural influence than a theological one. It will take a long time to unpack that fully, but I think there’s pretty strong evidence that that’s the case. 

[00:16:35] Eboo: The conversation that we’ve been having, it underscores how I see your positioning within evangelical communities, which is you’re a civic leader within these Christian communities. You’re an observer and you’re a participant, but you’re not a pastor. That doesn’t mean you don’t play a pastoral role at times. One of the things I find interesting about evangelicals that have been around a lot is anybody can pray in public and anybody can offer a pastoral-type friendship, which I find very beautiful, but you don’t get up on a pulpit every Sunday. 

Your principal role in these communities is as a board member or as an organizational founder, or as an initiative starter. You’re a senior fellow at Interfaith America where you’ve launched the Newbigin Fellows project and Christians in a Diverse Democracy. Is this the right description for you, you think, civic leader within these various communities? 

[00:17:24] John: Thanks. That’s a very generous description and I’m honored that you would put it in those terms. I should first say the tremendous respect and admiration I have for pastors, but also an empathy for the unbelievable challenge they face when it comes to formation. At most, especially with larger congregations, they’ve got 18 to 22 minutes once a week to try to form people whose lives are otherwise being formed by dozens of hours on social media or watching television or those sorts of things. It just seems like a very uphill battle, and they’ve got to communicate clearly and in a culturally relevant way. I gladly yield that duty to my pastor friends, and I know it’s a huge challenge. 

In terms of my own work and building and modes of engagement, I’m increasingly focused on the next generation of Christians, the 20-somethings whom I teach and who come across my path from various avenues, and trying to model for them, but also give them a vocabulary of Christian engagement in the world that is driven by confidence and not fear and anxiety. What I find about the 20-somethings, and I’m speaking of the Christians that I work with in that age demographic, is they’re generally not that fearful. They’ve grown up in a pluralist America. They don’t have a memory of a 1950s America or even a 1980s America. Their memory is largely post-9/11 in a very different context. 

They have friends who come from different faith communities, who come from different ethnic backgrounds, who have different views about sexuality and gender, and they’ve figured out how to live in that world with a little more lightness to their attachments. Now, that’s not to say they care less about some of the stakes or that they have less-formed ideas. I think many of these 20-somethings I’m thinking of hold very firm convictions, but their mode of engagement is different, and that matters quite a bit. 


[00:19:35] Eboo: After this quick break, we talk about our hope for bridge building in the next generation, the role that confidence plays in what John calls the American experiment, as well as get into a bit of legal theory and what it means to truly represent everyone. John, you are a bonafide expert in the First Amendment, particularly the rights of assembly and association, and you are a Christian evangelical. I’m wondering how you see the Constitution through those Christian evangelical ideals, and are they ever in conflict? 

[00:20:13] John: Yes. Let me start with the right of assembly, which, as you mentioned, I just stumbled upon it when I was in graduate school and discovered that it had gotten so little attention for decades. I realized it was a right project for exploration. A couple of things about the right of assembly. First, when you look at the First Amendment, it’s the only right in there that requires more than one person to be exercised. The other four individual rights of press, religion, petition, and speech, you can do on your own in some form or fashion, but you can’t assemble by yourself. You need at least one other person to assemble. 

Part of my argument about assembly has always been that built into the Constitution is this recognition that part of how we live in American society is through groups of people and with others who help shape our identities and the way that we see the world. What was really fun about that, even from early on in my academic work, is it took me to strange bedfellows and unusual partners. You can deploy these arguments as I do in defense of faith groups of all kinds, including conservative Christian groups, but also including progressive groups who are protesting at the border or other kinds of religious groups. They also apply to labor unions and the Occupy Wall Street Movement and Black Lives Matter. 

I consult and advise protestors across all of these groups, and I write briefs and make arguments on their behalf, even the groups that I don’t particularly agree with. I like protests and protestors except, of course, when they protest you and me, and I’m less comfortable with them. 

I think that the notion of protests there, which is built in also to the American experiment, reminds us that we exist and we live in this society where we don’t agree with everyone, where our differences are extremely deep and they matter, and we have to have the breathing space to try to work them out. Madison saw these as factions and factions were never, for Madison, some kind of docile arrangement. He always saw them as risks, a part of the American experiment, but he thought we were stuck with them, so we had to figure out what to do with them. [unintelligible 00:22:18] Phil talks about associations and the upsides that they bring, but also some of the tensions that they create. 

When we take seriously these different groups and the private sector of civil society, and that we’re trying to hash out our own beliefs within those groups and then figure out how to communicate across those groups, that’s the American experiment right there. That’s at the heart of what we’re trying to do as a society. It’s also, by the way, what I take to be a lot of Interfaith America’s work is to deepen the authenticity of the identities that come from different groups, and then also facilitate a conversation and bridge-building across those groups. That’s really core to a lot of the work that I’ve been doing in recent years. 

[00:22:59] Eboo: I love the use of the term confidence, both in terms of Christian identity and in terms of pluralism. I just think that that term is in some ways the key to your work. It’s the key to the work you’re doing within evangelical Christian communities, it’s the key to the work you’re doing for the American project of pluralism. Can you talk more about that? 

[00:23:22] John: Yes. I love that you’ve honed in on that word, which I borrow from a few places, including Lesslie Newbigin. I think what confidence conveys is a conviction and a faith and trust in what you’re doing without an overzealous certainty that closes your mind to any alternatives. I think when we’re honest with ourselves, confidence is really all we can have as an intellectually serious position. This idea of certainty, which really comes from more of an enlightenment context, fools us into thinking that we have irrefutable viewpoints and beliefs, and that’s just not who we are as frail human beings. 

On the other hand, very few of us are just open to whatever influences we come across. Very few of us change our core beliefs on a dime. We have these deeply held convictions and we can’t help but try to live into them. As a Christian, I think about how I try to structure my life, how I interact with my family, that we’d take Sundays off from work and go to church, that we give money to our church community. Why would we be doing this if we didn’t have confidence in what we believed and what we pursued? I think there’s a way in which confidence is tied to faith in a way that certainty would neglect or occlude. 

What faith opens up is this element of trust, that we’re trusting in one another, that we’re trusting in God, that we might not have all the answers all the time, but we’re doing our best to muddle through. This isn’t a best in a relativist sense where we’re just looking for the next best thing. This is doing our best to live out the convictions that we think are true about the world, and at the same time, recognizing that we might not always be able to convince other people why our truth is the truth. 

It doesn’t mean we hold it any less firmly. It just means that we are open to a posture of engagement, of friendship, and a neighborliness that allows people to pursue their own understandings, and at the same time hope that they will come to what we believe to be the truth of the world. 

[00:25:37] Eboo: I think that what you’ve just said is in some ways one of the keys to our friendship because you have a sense that you’re deeply confident in what you know, but it’s only part of the mystery of the whole universe. You’re muddling through and you have appreciation for other people who are doing the same thing, even though their understanding of that mystery is different in some deeply important way in the way that Christianity and Islam are different. 

One of the reasons for friendships between people like you and me, a confident Christian, a confident Ismaili Muslim, is because you watch the other person going through some of the same process that you are going through. That’s such a beautiful human thing. There’s just this great line by June Jordan, “I am a stranger learning to worship the strangers around me.” There’s the sense that, yes, we’re navigating and negotiating in very similar ways. 

[00:26:33] John: I think that’s right. I think everything you just said is also embedded within Christian theology. Christians affirm that every single person is created in the image of God as an image bearer. If we start there, that’s a pretty high bar to enter into any discussion or relationship, or conversation. Then beyond that, and this is also core to Christian theology, that Christians learn about and learn more about God and the world that God has created through other people, including people who aren’t Christians. You teach me something about the kingdom of God when I interact with you. 

In many ways, both implicitly and sometimes explicitly, you challenge me to be a better Christian in what I do. You and I have had public dialogues where we pushed each other in somewhat playful, but also very serious ways to talk about what does it means to be a dad who is trying to raise his kids in a particular religious tradition, and when are you willing to compromise and not compromise. I think it’s sometimes those challenges from outside of your own community can be heard more poignantly than the ones that you hear every day. 

[00:27:46] Eboo: It’s so interesting. I love it. I love our friendship along those lines. The term āyah is one of my favorite terms in Islam. It’s commonly translated as a verse of the Quran, but it also means a sign in the world. A tree, a blade of grass, a cloud, a friend is an āyah. It’s a sign, it’s holy, it’s sacred, and you are meant to approach it with the same reverence as you approach a verse of the Quran. It is also a window into God’s mystery in the universe. I just think that it’s the most beautiful thing. 

[00:28:19] John: I love that. It’s one of my great frustrations with a part of Christian culture today, especially in the United States that wants to wall off the rest of the world as if there’s this category of the pure church where everything good happens and the impure world where only bad things happen. That dichotomy has never been true in Christian theology, and it leads to a lot of myopic thinking and a lot of myopic living. 

[00:28:43] Eboo: Could you see a day where first-year orientation, the diversity section of it at 1,000 universities across the country looked like the conversation we were just having about being Christian and Muslim trying to live confidently in our own identities, share those identities with others who were living confidently in a different identity, be a part of the American project of pluralism while deepening into our own tradition, which has a totalism of its own? Do you see a day we’re at 1,000 universities that conversation is considered bullseye for DEI freshman orientation? 

[00:29:24] John: I think if the university wants to live up to what it’s supposed to be in the institutional sense of the university, I think the vision you just outlined is essential. One of the great lessons I’ve learned over the years from you and your colleagues at Interfaith America is how not only significant religious diversity is in these conversations, but also how lacking it is in so many university conversations. It took me a few years listening to you to realize how lacking it actually was. You go into these student affairs divisions and orientations and you hear almost nothing about religious difference. 

The university does a pretty good job of at least highlighting and naming other kinds of differences that students bring to the table, but almost nothing about religious difference. Sometimes when there is religious difference included, it’s a pretty odd caricature of what religion is. It’s kind of the super interesting snake-handling people in the mountains, but not representative of the students you might actually encounter in the dorm rooms. 

As you pointed out in some of your own work, this doesn’t make any sense when you look at the jobs, the professions, the activities that college graduates are headed toward where they’re going to have to work across tremendous religious difference and where they’re going to encounter issues that are world-shaping issues that hinge on an understanding of religious difference. For a university to have students for four years and not educate them about some of these differences is a failure of the university’s mission. I sure hope that we see more of what you’re describing in the years to come. 

[00:31:07] Eboo: This is another thing we have in common, hope, right? Hope. In that hopeful vision of university first-year orientation where people are having robust conversations about particular religious identities both in terms of their own confidence in their identity, but in their confidence also in the possibility of relationship and cooperation. Do you think evangelical Christians can be the leaders in creating those spaces as well as good faith participants in those spaces? 

[00:31:39] John: That’s certainly a goal of mine is to see that happen. This, again, I think is rooted in and takes strength from core theology within Christianity, a theology that says, “If you are confident in your own beliefs, then you should be engaging with those around you, and not only engaging but engaging generously and taking risks.” I talk, as you know, in some of my own work about the importance of tolerance. Tolerance is a pretty low bar. It basically means enduring. Whether you can endure someone who’s very different than you or maybe whose ideas and beliefs you really dislike. 

That’s one question, but Christians are called not to endure but to love. To love neighbor, to love enemy, to love the people who reject you. If Christians could actually act with that sacrificial and self-denying love, the love that we see modeled in Jesus, then they should absolutely be the leaders in some of these movements and efforts. They are positioned well to do that, I think, from their own faith tradition, but it’s going to take a posture of openness and a posture of engagement. Actually, a posture that’s not so much trying to win or control a particular context as much as to serve it well and to be a witness in that context, which I think again is core to what the Christian faith asks. 

[00:33:03] Eboo: Inshallah. God willing. As we Muslims say, God willing. John, you’ve just sketched a hopeful vision about pluralism at the university, the central role that genuine interfaith dialogue could play, how evangelicals can help shape that positively. Give us one thing that anybody, evangelical Christian or atheist or Muslim, listening to this podcast could do to help that ideal become a reality. 

[00:33:30] John: Let me put it this way. I sometimes say that civil liberties are for losers. I mean by that, if you are in the political majority, you’re going to legislate your way or you’re going to create an exemption for yourself. It’s only the people who find themselves in political minorities who are in need of civil liberties like speech and the free exercise of religion and the right of assembly. The complicated reality of America today is those political minorities and majorities differ by context. They differ in various states around this country, they differ in local context. 

Some state universities see an unbelievable Christian influence where the Christians are the political majority, and other parts of the country, just a couple of Christians are around and they’re very much a political minority. What does it mean to be aware when you have the power and others don’t, and to recognize that that’s going to be context-specific? The practical takeaway for that is to argue strongly for civil liberties, but argue especially strongly when you’re arguing on behalf of someone else. 

[00:34:39] Eboo: I appreciate that. Thank you so much, John. 

[00:34:42] John: Thanks, Eboo. Great to be with you. 


[00:34:49] Eboo: Friends, when you are confident in your identity and realize you are the one with the power to speak up for the identities of others, do you? Let us know in the comments or wherever you live on social media. You can find us on Twitter at Interfaith USA and Instagram at Interfaith America. Check out John Inazu’s books, Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference and Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference To read more about this conversation and to find resources and stories about bridge building in our religiously diverse democracy, visit our website I’m Eboo Patel.


Intro/outro music provided by Mysterylab Music and composed by Mott Jordan.

Credit music provided by Die Hard Productions.

Show More

Join us today!

Get inspired, equipped, and connected to unlock the potential of America’s religious diversity.


Podcast Team

Meet the team who made this podcast possible.

Contact Us

Want to share feedback, suggest a future guest or ask a question? Email Us.

Podcast Team