Reversing Cycles of Religious Prejudice
Following ICRD’s 20-year anniversary, the organization has committed itself to turning inward and reflecting on the unique challenges in our own backyard. Looking at the rise of religious prejudice and communal tensions in the United States, ICRD is examining the ongoing issue of religious mistrust in the United States and hopes to gather funding for localized community interventions that train local community leaders on best practices for identifying and reversing cycles of religious prejudice. While in its early stages, this turn inward is a primary facet of ICRDs programmatic vision for the organization moving forward.
Religious Prejudice in the US and Pakistan
In 2014, ICRD convened a meeting of conservative Muslims and Christians from Pakistan and the U.S. – groups that are widely thought to have fundamentally irreconcilable worldviews – to form the Interfaith Leadership Network (ILN). The purpose of this network was to provide a space for both groups to explore the factors that contribute to religious prejudice and fuel violent extremism in their respective countries. As a result of this exchange, the ILN members have formed an enduring coalition that has launched various projects to address xenophobia and protect religious minorities.
Islamophobia in the U.S.
To address the rising trend of religious intolerance at home and build on the establishment of an Interfaith Leadership Network comprised of Pakistani and American faith leaders, ICRD held a “Conference to Combat Islamophobia” in 2015. From this event, 40 prominent US Evangelical pastors emerged with a greater understanding of the prejudices faced by American Muslims and an enhanced commitment to act to promote tolerance and respect for all religious minorities. These include strategies for countering anti-Muslim sentiment, which are now being implemented in a number of communities. The participants’ presentations on various aspects of Islamophobia were published in special editions of the Dialogue Institute’s Journal of Ecumenical Studies and Fuller Seminary’s Interfaith Evangelical Dialogue. ICRD is currently exploring opportunities to launch the next stage of this program that will integrate effective methods for countering religious hostility into the training of clergy at seminaries and universities in the U.S.
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