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February 2016

Muslims for Progressive Values Takes on Wahhabism

One day she woke up and said to herself, “Enough is enough.”

What It Is Like to Have Interfaith Dialogues

I have been an active member of Multi-Faith Student Council at the University of Minnesota for two years now. I have been fortunate to learn so much about other people and their faith. I am no expert on interfaith dialogues but did pick up some things along the way. The beginning can be awkward because you don’t want to ask dumb questions or seem ignorant. The truth is, there is no such thing as a dumb question.

Planning this Year for TIO 2.0

This month marks the fiftieth issue of The Interfaith Observer (TIO), and the time has come to take a breath and a break from ‘business as usual.’ For the next five months, from March through July of 2016, TIO will look back and gather the work by and about five of our most prolific writers, one a month. Next month, we will feature the work of Marcus Braybrooke.

Sweden’s Religious Community Responds to Flood of Refugees

During the autumn and winter of 2015 Sweden has had a great influx of refugees, mainly from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. More than 250,000 men, women and children have arrived in Sweden in recent months. Sweden, a nation of nine million inhabitants, has been caught unprepared. Sweden and Germany are the two countries in Europe that have received the largest number of refugees. Södertälje, a small town south of Stockholm, has received more refugees from Iraq than all of the United States. The comparison between Europe and the U.S. in receiving refugees is stunning. The U.S. has received a total of 2,000 refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Europe has received around two million people from these countries during the last six months!

Huston Smith and the Parliament of the World’s Religions

All of us can look back over our lives and identify people who have been significant role models. One of those persons for me has been Huston Smith. Perhaps the most important American scholar of religions for five decades, Smith was born the son of Methodist missionaries in Dzang Dok, China, where he spent the first 17 years of his life. Now 96 and confined to a favorite chair in an assisted-living apartment in Berkeley, California, the old gentleman – eyes sparkling – still “banters in Chinese with his friend, Mr. Lin, the maintenance man” (Lisa Miller, “Huston Smith’s Wonderful Life,” The Daily Beast, 2009).

Interfaith Generation Emerging

We are still fighting the myth that interfaith children grow up to be lost and confused. Rev. Erik Martínez Resly is an interfaith child who grew up to become an inspired community leader. I met Erik at the Parliament of the World’s Religions this year and later interviewed him about his work as lead organizer of The Sanctuaries, a racially and religiously diverse arts community in Washington, DC. — SKM

Serve2Unite Takes on Violence Fearlessly

“We defy hate and violence with peace and love. We bring people together. We celebrate the positive global human qualities that everyone shares, and no one can stop us.”

A Bold Vision

Until recently becoming the executive director of Religions for Peace-USA, Robert Montgomery directed the Faith and Culture Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Its mission is to build community and work to foster greater understanding and appreciation of Middle Tennessee’s diverse faith traditions and cultures. Its vision is to transform its local community into one where all people embrace humility, understanding, respect, empathy, and compassion.

Pope Fancis’s New Interreligious Dialogue of Action

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), in collaboration with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and Religions for Peace, held the Vatican’s fifth Buddhist-Christian Colloquium February 12-13, 2015 at Bodh Gaya in India. Bodh Gaya is the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment and was chosen for a dialogue since it has temples and monasteries from many different types of Buddhists.

“I’d Like to Help” – A Conversation with Charles Gibbs

What can we learn from a pioneer who co-created the largest grassroots interfaith organization in the world? A conversation with Charles Gibbs gifted us with answers to this question.

C. F. Andrews: Gandhi’s Friend

Often the friendships made at a conference are remembered long after the keynote speeches are forgotten. In the ancient and mediaeval worlds, friendship was very highly valued. For Aristotle, friendship was the very fabric of a healthy society, and Cicero stressed the importance of friendship. The mediaeval monk Aelred even translated the Biblical verse “God is love” as “God is friendship.” (1 John 4: 8).