Tensions around Islam in America have erupted throughout the country in the past year, leading to misconceptions, distrust and in some cases violence. News stories on the rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry and violence abound, with graphic and often searing images of the antagonists, the protagonists and the battlegrounds where they meet. All too often, media coverage simplistically pits Muslims against would-be Qur’an burners, neglecting any substantive representation of where the majority of Americans actually stand: a shared commitment to tolerance and freedom. We are committed to ensuring that the storyline changes dramatically in 2011 by helping to create an environment of mutual understanding and respect for each other’s faith traditions.
Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First offer the Faith Shared event as a way to engage faith leaders on the national and community levels in interfaith events intended to highlight respect among people of different faiths. Through photos, video clips and print coverage distributed around the world, we are looking to display visual images that reflect the mutual respect that is shared by so many Muslims, Christians, Jews and other Americans, standing together as a strong counterpoint to the negative images that have dominated the domestic and international news.
This project will create opportunities across the United States for faith communities to strengthen ties with each other. We will counter the misperception, including in the Arab and Muslim worlds, that the United States is a nation defined by the widely covered images of the marginal few who would burn a Qur’an, rather than by a proud and longstanding tradition of religious freedom, tolerance and pluralism. In communities across the United States, this project will not only serve as a model for tolerance and cooperation and promote local faith leaders as champions of such, but it will also create a concrete opportunity to build and strengthen working ties between faith communities moving forward.
Faith Shared asks houses of worship across the country to organize events involving clergy reading from each other’s sacred texts. An example would be a Christian Minister, Jewish Rabbi and Muslim Imam participating in a worship service or other event. Suggested readings will be provided from the Torah, the Gospels, and the Qur’an, but communities are encouraged to choose readings that will resonate with their congregations. Involvement of members from the Muslim community is key. We will also provide suggestions on how to incorporate this program into your regular worship services. And we will assist local congregations in their media and communications efforts.
While there is a strong preference for all of the events to happen on the same day, a number of congregations held interfaith services in January and February giving us wonderful examples of how communities can come together in support and fellowship. We will be posting photos, sample programs and audio files from theses services.
Faith Shared will collect images and videos from these events to use in our efforts to spread this message of respect and understanding from America.
Faith Shared is an interfaith event to be held at houses
of worship around the country on June 26th. Learn more..