The Faith Club

1 06 2011

Over this past Winter break I read a book my friend Madelyn Hoffman gave me for Christmas. It was the Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner, three mothers, a Muslim a Christian and a Jew  who came together to write a children’s book in the wake of the craziness of post 9/11 Islamophobia and ended up doing so much more than they set out to do. To be completely honest, I read it in less than three days, I couldn’t put it down. These three women met frequently, talking about their differences and commonalities, became friends, and later advocates for each other against those who disagreed with what they were doing.

 

What these women were doing was so amazing for me to read about. Sure they had awkward moments, and argued about their personal as well as their religious beliefs, but they took that step on faith and challenged themselves to try to create a better world for their children. It sure didn’t sound easy, but it was a start and a whole lot more than most people were doing.

 

A few weeks ago on Facebook, Americans Against Islamophobia posted an article about a request by Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First to Christian churches “to invite Jewish and Muslim clergy to their sanctuaries to read from sacred texts next month in an initiative designed to counter anti-Muslim bigotry.” Another great idea! I hope this is not the first time anyone has come up with this idea, all I know is this is the first time I have heard of it.

 

The only time I was asked to purposefully seek out and have a conversation with someone of different beliefs was this past semester in the Intercultural Communication class at Juniata College. I ended up spending a lot of time with an acquaintance in Juniata Hillel, my school’s Jewish club.

 

There are people out there advocating for people to step outside their comfort zone and challenge their assumptions about others. Unfortunately they are not the loudest voices. Grassroots organizations, my classmates in Intercultural Communication and individuals like Ranya, Suzanne and Priscilla have taken steps toward communicating with others, rather than running away. But so much more needs to be done, especially by religious institutions, schools and of course the government. When we are willing to do that constantly rather than once in a blue moon, it will be that much easier to maintain peace and justice for everyone.

 

What steps have you taken towards furthering thoughtful communication in your community, and as an individual? And what more needs to be done by the United States government and everyone in America?

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