As Interfaith reporters and laborers in the spiritual vineyard, we are like scientists of religion, or religious anthropologists. We not only compare, contrast, and evaluate the spiritual findings of many different cultures, we are also looking for common ground.
Many criticize the interfaith movement because any participation means that you are willing to suspend your own religious group’s message and its evangelical activity to promote their gospel message. Some churches even demand evangelical work as part of their membership requirements.
Interfaith activity is about developing an integrated human community on the planet, not about promoting a holy book, or one group’s particular gospel message. Each message has value, but to planetize our spiritual brotherhood, the healthy goal of the Interfaith movement is to attempt to understand what discoveries each group has made in their “quest for truth.”
The task that lies ahead for us is to bring about religious unity, not to seek a comfort zone in uniformity of thinking. Interfaith workers seek to discover the unity in each other’s spiritual traditions and shared goals. The global village with its networks of instant intercommunication has taken us to the point in our evolution where we can see without much effort what kind of spiritual understanding the other has achieved, whether as individuals or as a group. Intellectual seekers who wish to find the surest philosophical path to a true concept of God and/or the cosmos may find themselves falling in love with the separate expressions that have been made. Separate, distinct, and different as categories may exist; unifying them and working together to become citizens of the universe is the goal of human brotherhood.
Eboo Patel recently wrote in the Huffington Post (April 23, 2013) his three reasons for the value of Interfaith efforts. “When interfaith cooperation is done well, it not only helps people from different faith and philosophical backgrounds get along, it creates space for the diverse identities within each of us to become mutually enriching rather than mutually exclusive.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eboo-patel/3-reasons-interfaith-efforts-ma…
Interfaith communities provide a comfortable place for questions, a safe place where inevitable uncertainties about the life of the spirit can be expressed, shared and addressed. Living within a church community that has an established doctrine, especially a fundamentalist one, can prevent members of the congregation from seeking help with doubts and fears, ethical questions, or even psychological healing.
Human rights, especially for women, would find avenues for improvement in an interfaith environment because eventually old concepts of women’s roles would evolve and change once there was a safe exposure to other systems that include improved rights for women.
The Council for the Parliament of Religions promotes the view that, “interfaith measures and religious dialogue can successfully mitigate today’s worsening climate of hate in the United States.”
You can become an interfaith worker by joining the North American Interfaith Council. As their website http://nain.org/connect/join-the-north-american-interfaith-network/ says, “Qualifying organizations are invited to apply for membership in NAIN – North American Interfaith Network. Our Membership Chair is George Stern. You may email any membership questions to him (at their link).”
Each member organization designates a representative who has voting privileges. Individuals may apply to be non-voting NAIN Associate Members.