The United States at an Interfaith Crossroads
by Paul Chaffee
This month’s TIO is being posted 25 days before one of the most momentous elections in the history of the United States. From an interfaith point of view, the implications are huge. My reflections are not designed to promote any candidate, but simply to notice the choices at hand from an interfaith perspective.
The fury inspired by those who’ve been ‘left out’ for long decades have morphed around a leader whose spiritual, religious, much less interreligious sensibilities are zip. Donald Trump’s spiritual energy is completely self-glorifying and comes with a nasty shadow side which viscerally responds to any criticism or disagreement. He regularly, dramatically relies on racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and personal abuse, garnering the favor of those who would love to give way to their shadow side but can’t get away with what Donald gets away with. Trump, from all we can see, worships himself and, in that regard, is a fundamentalist.
In brief, Trump and the community which adores him are the antithesis of what the interfaith movement is about. Interfaith activists promote diversity, champion human rights, call for respect for all people, for justice as well as peace, and for healing our home, the Earth.
There is no need to polish Hillary Clinton’s record over three decades of public service, except to note that she seems securely grounded in the United Methodist tradition she grew up with and has been interfaith friendly as a matter of course. So the choice is mind-boggling for the nation and for the world, where right-wing leadership is emerging in nation after nation, and a win for Trump could stoke the fires of bigotry, religious oppression, and economic injustice, the world around. Yes, an enormous choice.
This month’s TIO is a testament to how much there is to learn and do to make interfaith culture healthy and vital in these troubled times. The Interfaith News Roundup, for the first time in many months, has far more inspiring, hopeful stories to report than the nightmare scenarios that can dominate the news.
The profiles of Akhenaten and Alexander the Great as pioneering religious figures are astonishing, giving ancient history interfaith roots that most of us never imagined. The power of the ancient Jewish Tabernacle is similarly explored.
The rest of the issue is how people today of all ages, young and old, are embracing an interfaith perspective and bringing it into their lives in creative ways. Don’t miss the interview with Rabbi Rami Shapiro, an interfaith wiseman. And Weston Pew’s challenge to us to be transformed, though first published six years ago, is even more powerful today. Enjoy!