Inviting All to the Table
California Interfaith Connections Growing
by Stephen Albert
Unlike most movements, interfaith did not start somewhere and grow out to the rest of the world. Rather it has started spontaneously in thousands of communities, without central planning or instructions from upstairs. Over the last 25 years these multiple efforts have begun to organize and collaborate. Along with several international efforts, local church councils have morphed into interfaith councils, interfaith service centers have emerged, and hundreds of nonprofit interfaith organizations have sprouted.
Now comes an effort in California to create a statewide interfaith network. This network will include down-town projects and those far from the urban centers, include small volunteer efforts as well as established organizations. The network fosters friendship and the creation of a a larger interfaith table than California has ever enjoyed. As Rev. Dr. Stephen Albert’s article below suggests, perhaps this statewide effort will prove contagious and emerge in other states and nations.
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Certain things in life are no-brainers. In Jim Croce’s 1972 song “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” he told us: “You don't tug on superman's cape, You don't spit into the wind, You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger, And you don't mess around with Jim.”
We are realizing, in today’s volatile political and technological world, that other societal no-brainers exist ... but are often not being followed. These no-brainers were given to us by the avatars of history who became the leaders that many faiths were founded upon. They made it into our bibles and spiritual texts and became the common-sense advice most of us live by today.
They include: “The entire human race is one,” Baha’u’llah. “Give up wrong and harmful thoughts, words, and deeds…” Buddha. "Love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus. “All humans are equal, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or tribe,” Muhammad. And of course, “You shall not murder,” from the Ten Commandments Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai.
Aware of the unstable state of consciousness in the world, on May 1, 2018 the interfaith community in California took the next step to expand its existence and no-brainer beliefs through the creation of the California Interfaith Association (CIA). The Association sprang out of the North American Interfaith Network’s ‘Connect’ conference, held in San Diego County, August 6-10, 2017. The CIA is made up of interfaith councils, teams, groups, networks, supportive faith organizations, and more from all over the state. Its no-brainer Mission Statement:
“We honor and respect all faiths, cultures, creeds, and races and seek to learn from those who believe equal spiritual opportunity and human rights belong to every person.”
Along with this no-brainer mission statement comes a state-wide interfaith holiday proclaimed by the California State Assembly and Governor Gerry Brown. As was celebrated during the second week of August in San Diego County in 2017, in 2018 almost 100 CIA member groups and affiliates will hold interfaith activities all over the State during that week, activities open to the public.
It is time for interfaith groups in other states to join together. Contact your state representatives and governors and more loudly speak up about the no-brainer consciousness you possess. If it can happen in San Diego County in 2017, and in the State of California in 2018, let us set 2020 as the year to increase our vision and have all of America celebrating the rights for all people to be honor and respected. Check out the CIA website at: www.cainterfaith.org and let’s make “Interfaith” a more commonly heard word throughout the country.
Header Photo: tdlucas5000, C.c. 2.0