Motivations for Interfaith Work

Digging Deep: Personal and religious motivations for interfaith work, and how they can help us hone outreach strategy 

Digging Deep Panel: Motivations for Interfaith Work

Digging Deep Panel: Motivations for Interfaith Work

The panel, hosted by NAIN Board member Grove Harris, discussed various motivations for interfaith work. 

  • Rabbi David A. Kunin, President, Edmonton Interfaith Centre, Rabbi of Beth Shalom Synagogue.  Rabbi Kunin feels belief is not so important.  Dogma obscures individual identity.  Meta-narratives are dangerous.
  • Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Executive Committee and Chair of the Interfaith Committee, World Sikh Council – America Region; Moderator of Religions for Peace; Vice-Chair NAIN; Exec.Comm. of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.  At  first Tarunjit was a secular Sikh.  A Catholic priest led him back to his tradition.  He is fanatically mono-theistic, but does not feel that others need to be.  He needs to understand other faiths in order to fully realize his own.  He does not believe other faiths, but honors them.  He believes we must move from toleration to respect and finally to honoring other faiths.
  • Pastor Dean Jackson, Pastor of the Rock Canyon Church, an affiliate of the Assemblies of God.  Pastor Jackson calls himself a ‘follower of Jesus’ [see keynote].  He stopped Mormon-bashing in his church.  Cultural differences are more important than religious differences.  He does not like the verb ‘tolerate’.  He tolerates bad weather and potholes, but not people.  At core this is about relationships.  Problems do not go away, but opportunities open up for solutions.  He feels we must wrestle with our own values, e. g., honesty vs. loyalty.  He points out that the business world pays for loyalty, not honesty.
  • Imam Muhammed Mehtar, the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake After 9/11 he was asked, “Whose side are you?”  So he asked himself who he was.  He undertook seven years of charia law study.  150 non-members come to the Islamic Society.  He urges all people of the book to find areas of common understanding.  Common values are important for relationship.  For the little differences, we need greater understanding.
  • Gayla Sorenson, J.D., Senior Fellow the International Center for the Study of Law and Religion, J. Reuben Clark law School, Brigham Young University The LDS 11th Article of Faith allows others their own faiths.  She grew up in an interfaith family and lived as part of a minority.  We need to practice ways that we can work together.

Comments: 

Jim Wiggins does not like the term ‘other’.  We need to affirm our differences and learn from them.  He prefers conversation to dialog.URI-NA operates on synergy – build with.

How do we engage with minorities?
Don’t talk about religion, but about the troubles of the world and how to solve them.
Use interfaith to solve community problems.
Pastor Jackson:  Faith groups are proprietary.  “Open source” groups like Rotary are valuable meeting grounds.

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