The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

Fall 2012 Call for Contributing Scholars! 6 September , 2012

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State of Formation is pleased to announce it is accepting applications for Contributing Scholars!

State of Formation is a community conversation between young leaders in formation. Together, a cohort of seminarians, rabbinical students, graduate students and the like – the future religious and moral leaders of tomorrow – will work to redefine the ethical discourse today, particularly as it is used to refract current events and personal experiences. This initiative is supported by a partnership between the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR), Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue (JIRD), Hebrew College, and Andover Newton Theological School.

Over the past two years, emerging religious and ethical leaders from around the country and the world have engaged each other and readers by sharing their stories and views on State of Formation. Conversations once dominated by established leaders are now readily embraced by the up-and-comers, and accessible to contributors from many different moral, faith, political, economic, and social backgrounds.

Contributing Scholars to State of Formation will be able to take advantage of the numerous benefits to participating in the State of Formation Contributing Scholars Fellowship. In addition to being recognized as a Contributing Scholar by JIRD and CPWR, they may be eligible for travel grants and may have their work featured in articles on additional platforms like CPWR’s website, PeaceNext, The Huffington Post, Interfaith Youth Core, Pluralism Project, Interfaith Observer, and Tikkun.

Nominees should be currently enrolled in a seminary, rabbinical school, graduate program, or another institution for theological or philosophical formation — or up to three years out of their graduate program in a professional setting. (On rare occasions, exceptions will be made to these guidelines in order to increase the diversity of the writers.)  Contributors should be able to commit to post monthly on the forum while showing respect others from different traditions.

Does this describe you or an emerging leader you know? Please take a moment to fill out our brief nomination form. Nominations for the fall are due September 30, 2012 and will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Honna Eichler, Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

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We Are In This Together: Young People of Different Faiths Reflect on Sikh Shooting 9 August , 2012

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By Harsha Sharma

The Faiths Act Fellowship of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation brought together 34 young people of faith from around the world — creatively highlighting faith as a force for good. Over the course of one year, we mobilized faith groups to engage in sustainable interfaith social action within our local communities and the results were inspiring. As the Fellowship came to a close a few weeks ago, we have reflected deeply on the importance for us as an international cohort to continue our efforts wherever in the world we may be.

The recent events in Wisconsin highlight just why religious tolerance, coexistence and literacy are so imperative in today’s world.

In the wake of the tragic gurdwara shooting, a group of us across continents have come together — inspired by our time working with global Sikh communities.

It was Sunday lunchtime, here in London, that a Sikh friend was discussing the concept of Chardi Kala (a state of mind linked to rising spirits in all situations) with me. When I heard about the gurdwara shooting later that evening my first thoughts were of the families afflicted by this heinous act of terror. As a Hindu, I am deeply inspired by the unwavering state of Chardi Kala demonstrated by the families affected in Wisconsin and pray for their strength.



How Ramadan Made Me An Interfaith Advocate 8 August , 2012

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By Nicole Marie Edine

When I left my small, non-diverse hometown at the Jersey Shore to attend Boston University, I never would have guessed I would graduate to become an interfaith advocate. In fact, in 2005, the only thing I knew about Islam was that it was somehow tied with civilians from Iraq and Iran. I didn’t hate Muslims or anything, I just never met one. My best friend at Boston University had a friend in one of his classes who invited him to Boston University’s annual Ramadan dinner. He invited me to tag along. Little did I know that this dinner would be a stepping stone into my interfaith life.

Metcalf Hall was decorated simply, yet beautifully with ornate scarves. Around me, students dressed in beautiful salwar kamezes bustled about setting up their last minute touches. On the tables lay a program welcoming us to the event. I was unaware that these bustling students had attended classes all day just as I had, but without taking food and drink.

The program began with the call to prayer, the breaking of the fast with a date, and then a reading from the Quran. After that we waited in line for food. As we were waiting, I looked around to see the diversity of students attending the dinner. Not only Muslim students were present, but their friends who had come for support. Some of my Hindu friends had also joined. Together we sat, ate falafel, and enjoyed each other’s company. Together we learned about Islam, community, and the importance of interfaith understanding. 

Ramadan dinner became one of the important dates of my life at Boston University. Many of my non-Muslim friends would ask me at the beginning of the school year: “When is the Ramadan dinner? We loved it last year and we’d love to go again!” My friends and many others learned about Islam by taking part in an open and inviting Iftar. The Ramadan dinner helped me to realize the importance of the interfaith experience: learning about each other, sharing in our diverse cultures, and working together to move forward.


A Better Way to Talk About Faith 15 June , 2012

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By David Bornstein

Is there a way to overcome religious intolerance?

Given global demographic changes, it’s a vital question. “The most certain prediction that we can make about almost any modern society is that it will be more diverse a generation from now than it is today,” the political scientist Robert D. Putnam has written. “This is true from Sweden to the United States and from New Zealand to Ireland.”

In the United States, the question holds special significance for the simple reason that American society is highly religious and highly diverse and — on matters concerning faith — considerably more politically polarized than a quarter-century ago.

The United States prides itself on welcoming people of different faiths. The Bill of Rights begins with a guarantee of freedom of worship. In 1790, George Washington sent a letter to a Jewish congregation in which he expressed his wish that they “continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants,” and declared that the government “gives to bigotry no sanction.” In 2010, Mayor Bloomberg’s impassioned and courageous defense of the Cordoba House — the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” — became an important addition to a long and noble tradition of inclusion. (It’s a speech worth reading.)

But while there have been widespread efforts over the past generation to promote and celebrate ethnic and racial diversity — everything from “Sesame Street” to multicultural studies to work force sensitivity training — the one topic that has often been kept off the table is faith. Americans have grown more comfortable talking about race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, but not faith. It’s too personal, too divisive, too explosive. How do you conduct a productive conversation among people whose cherished beliefs — exclusive God-given truths — cannot be reconciled?

That’s a process that a Chicago-based organization called the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) has refined into something between an art and a science, demonstrating how to bring college students together across faith and belief lines so that they develop greater respect, comfort and appreciation for one another and their traditions.


This article was originally published on the New York Times blog


Millennial Values Survey Report 9 May , 2012

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A joint effort between the Berkley Center and the Public Religion Research Institute, this groundbreaking survey explores how 18-24 year-olds view faith, values, and the 2012 election. The survey of 2,000 college-age Millennials provides new insights about the moral and religious values that animate young adults, and how these values impact their voting preferences and views on a range of issues including religious pluralism, social and economic inequality, immigration, and issues of race and gender. The survey also provides clues about what young people think about important political figures and political movements of the day.




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Sunday, June 3 through Friday, June 8

Applications now being accepted

Hartford Seminary is seeking a diverse circle of participants in its RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP, to be held Sunday evening, June 3 through Friday noon, June 8,on the Hartford Seminary campus. Made possible by generous assistance from the Shinnyo-en Foundation, this workshop will combine aspects of “training the trainers” with instruction about religious diversity and leadership per se. In addition to models and methods of leadership generally, the workshop will address such topics as leading youth in the multifaith context and in interfaith activities, formation of emerging young leaders, meeting the challenge of bullying, theologies and philosophies of religious difference, philosophies and models of dialogue, and multifaith efforts for the common good.

Guest presenters will include Janet Penn (Executive Director, Youth LEAD); Nancy Raines (Hospice Chaplain; formerly chaplain, Massachusetts General Hospital); Rev. Danny Fisher (Director, Buddhist Chaplaincy Program, University of the West); Joshua Stanton (founding editor, The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue); and members of the Hartford Seminary faculty.

The week will include field trips to houses of worship illustrative of the changing religious landscape of Connecticut and New York. Seminar pedagogy will make use of large-group and small-group discussion, case-study method, and documentaries, guest speakers, and panel presentations. Participants will have opportunity to strategize, with input from colleagues, for their specific contexts and needs. Opportunity will also be provided for the group as a whole to share resources for multifaith education, ritual, dialogue, counseling, advocacy, and encouragement of productive dialogue and collaboration between religious groups at the intersection of religious and public life – thus improved ability to build community around common concerns.

The participation fee (which includes most meals) is $575. Applicants should email Tina Demo, Recruitment Officer ( by May 1, providing contact information and a brief description of the nature of their religious leadership or involvement in interreligious matters. Modest resources are available for financial assistance to help defray expenses (housing, transportation, tuition) for qualified applicants.

Questions about the workshop content should be addressed to Dr. Lucinda Mosher, Faculty Associate in Interfaith Studies, who will be the workshop’s coordinator and lead instructor (


A Demographic Breakdown Of The World Of Religion 23 April , 2012

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WWJD? A Non-Violent Conflict Resolution for Palestine 9 June , 2011

How could a person living under military occupation, experiencing first-hand suffering and humiliation, even think about loving the enemy, let alone urge family, friends and neighbors to do the same? This challenging message came from a young rabbi named Jesus in his “Sermon on the Mount.”

Of course, Jesus could have suggested we make peace with our enemies or negotiate peace agreements or peacefully resolve conflict; those statements would have been as shocking to the suffering Jews of that time. Instead, he entreated them to go further: to “love” them. This was the word he chose — a command to all those who seek to follow him.



Doing Church and Doing Justice: A Portrait of Millennials at Middle Church

The Public Religion Research Institute  recently released a report on the Millenial generation and their relationship with religion, social justice, and cultural issues.   The Millennial Generation, categorized as Americans between the ages of 18 and 29, are “the most ethnically, religiously and socially diverse group of people in U.S. history,” The Millennials are engaged in social justice activism and LGBTQ issues and take advantage of new technology to get their voices heard.  The report discusses the Millennials’ overall disillusionment with the Christian church and a difference in  values from older generations.

The main subjects of the report were  Millennials that do affiliate themselves religiously, particularly members of Middle Church, a Christian Reformed church in the East Village led by Pastor  Jacqui Lewis.  Lewis described the church as “welcoming, artistic, inclusive, bold.”  The Middle Church has a particular emphasis on social justice and LGBTQ issues and is thus particularly attractive to Millennials searching for a religion that coincides with their beliefs and worldview. Middle Church and the Millennials advocate for religion to act not as a theological or dogmatic institution, but  as a vehicle for systemic change in the world.



Finding Meaning in the Death of a Teacher

Physically awkward, socially uncomfortable, mechanically rigid, and not balding, but conclusively balded, having lost it and pointing it out with a toupee. For high school students, that’s blood in the water. We’d regularly tease him; our pre-calculus class in particular was famed for its brazenness (and be sure we reveled in that notoriety). But because he wasn’t the type of teacher — or the type of man — who knew how to push back, he’d end up all but asking for more. I mean, he was a math teacher wearing a toupee. Did he expect differently?

One day, during passing time between classes, someone opened the door to our room and tossed a toupee into the room. While he was lecturing. I still remember how quickly everything stopped, as we watched the toupee fall to the floor, rather like a leaf, and our teacher’s voice first stumbled and then seemed to be sucked out of existence, leaving behind an unbelievable silence so perfect we could not imagine it hadn’t endured forever. If the room itself could be embarrassed, then the air was red in the face.