There are amazing people of faith around the world who are working to make our communities inclusive, accepting, diverse, and vibrant. This week, we encourage you to get to know some more of them, especially your neighbors from other faith traditions. We can learn a tremendous amount from each other.
Working with those from other religions can led us to new insights as we consider a different perspective. Is there a synagogue, sangha, temple, mosque, church, discussion group or gathering in your area that you think may share similar views to yours? Reach out to them and see if they might be interested in holding a social event together or holding a discussion between your groups. You could explore the similarities and differences in the ways in which your faith understands sexual orientation and gender identity. Rabbis Mychal Copeland and D’vorah Rose have edited a wonderful book, Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives, which can give you ideas and information as you consider the topic.
Some suggestions as you get started:
- Be thoughtful as you reach out, recognizing that some groups may not be certain of your motives. Be clear that you want to connect and dialogue, not evangelize or persuade.
- Learn at least a little about the group you are reaching out to so that you can ask informed questions. The Interfaith Alliance has a growing list of 5 Starter Facts about Your Neighbor’s Religion that includes a diverse body of faiths to begin your learning.
- Brush up on interfaith etiquette. Check out Eboo Patel’s 3 Suggestions for Interfaith Literacy, and see the Religion Communicator’s Council list of Interfaith Dialogue Guidelines. Your faith tradition may have its own resources that will be valuable for you.
- Consider offering food at your event—after checking with all groups about dietary needs and guidelines—as it is a time-honored way of bringing people together.
- Engage a facilitator who is experienced with interfaith groups. They can help set positive guidelines and encourage good conversation. Your local interfaith council may have resources for you.
- Take the event seriously but have fun together. It can be a transformative act just to gather with each other!