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Wed Apr 13, 2016, 07:58 AM


Interfaith Disrupted: A Search for Action and Common Ground

04/12/2016 04:42 pm ET
Darrell Ezell
Director of M.A. in Interfaith Action Program at Claremont Lincoln University, Author of Beyond Cairo

As the tectonic plates shift across America’s social landscape, it is evident that nearly every aspect of American society is experiencing some form of disruption. Amid this radical change, community-brokers, activists, and interfaith leaders are confronted by these and other moral-based conflicts that are unsettling and cannot be resolved by traditional forms of dialogue or diplomacy.

Such disruption requires a new response that is equally disruptive, even if it means readjusting how we practice interfaith relations in order to ensure peace and stability.

While the interfaith model of the twentieth century welcomed “symbolic gestures” as holding hands, singing “kumbaya” or sharing food and blessings in mainline church basements, it is evident that the interfaith work of the twenty-first century must connect itself to the unstable pockets of our society where disenfranchised voices reside. It has been the case for some time now that interfaith activity in parts of the United States often functions as a “cozy” safe-space.

Pushing this point forward, it is essential faith-based leaders grasp that many of these safe playgrounds for inter-religious exploration are experiencing a much needed disruption, brought on by an urgency that leaders incorporate key cross-cultural skills into their daily practice to promote peace and social justice at the grassroots-level. Whether working to ensure human rights in Jos, Nigeria or participating in peace-building endeavors in Dearborn, Michigan, we are learning that “interfaith dialogue” can no longer be the only option to satisfying societies ills.


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