Interfaith Education

The purpose of a, of a special focus day is where we actually stop teaching the IB, but it’s an opportunity to focus on the actual mission of of this UWC college. So, why interfaith? Identity and especially religious identity has been used and abused throughout history for political ends.

And to understand why the situation is like this in the current modern society it is really important to learn about religion. It´s really an interesting way to learn more about the people around you and the environment I am muslim and I am connected to foreign country and not a good time for

My religion itself because we have a lot of like, conflict areas now in foreign countries about the Islam and about terrorism by relating them together but like, I thought it may be a good thing that I come and maybe I can change something in people. People´s perspective of Islam

I think our work is to help people reclaim the voice of their religion and represent it in the way that it’s meant to be represented. As a force for love, as a force for harmony, as a force for bridge building in the world.

And looking at this kind of issue, the inclusivity of it If you are a member of that faith what do you believe in so to speak, they unite you with other members but, it excludes others and it’s that exclusion which can be exploited With two seminars to try and increase the

Amount of exposure that students could get to face speakers. My religion or my religious life it’s between me and between god, but, the social life and the rest of our life it´s for all of us together. If you believe or not believe, we are together. To built, the whole and the future.

I think Interfaith is so interesting because you learn more about like, the core part of how people perceive the world and how people think. So it’s not just the superficial culture exchange of oh, this is pretty; but, you learn about the meaning behind the objects and I think it really helps to

Understand other people. People who, maybe doesn’t believe in God, and doesn’t believe in any other religion and they just really listen and they have good questions and they really respect the religion and they respect each other and, they were really happy after it. So, this really surprised me.

#Interfaith #Education

Interfaith Community Christmas Celebration in Utah Draws Hundreds

“It’s such a neat thing for all the community just to break down walls and come together celebrating Christmas and thinking of Christ.” This time of year, the ornaments are hung and presents are shared. “All right, guys, here are your hats.” But in the midst of the holiday busy-ness,

A community in Utah is gathering to commemorate the reason for the season. In an audience-packed auditorium, parishioners from several denominations are sharing the Christmas story, in their own language and culture. “Christmas is so important because it’s the one time of year where we can all focus on Jesus Christ,

What He did, and what He’s done to teach us how to be good to one another.” “I loved it! We went to last year, so this is our second year coming. And it’s so fun to get everybody together and just see all the different types of singing and dancing and stuff like that.

Just a fun way to celebrate Christmas.” The Community Christmas Celebration is an interfaith event organized by My Hometown. It’s a community improvement group led by several denominations and sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “It builds communities because faith is the heart of the community.”

“When we first started three or four years ago, it was hard to get a few people to come. But now, on a good day, we’ll have 500 or 600 volunteers, 100 neighbors coming out and helping each other, knowing each other and working together. And it’s just changing the community.”

And while the holidays will soon pass, for this community the spirit of Christmas carries on through their volunteer efforts. “You just have people that believe in God, that believe in Christ, and that are willing to act to lift and help other people in His name. And that’s what we saw tonight.”

#Interfaith #Community #Christmas #Celebration #Utah #Draws #Hundreds

Should a Christian date or marry a Non-Christian?

– Well I was always told an explicit “no” on that, based in particular on 2 Corinthians 6, and in verse 14 Paul says to not be “unequally yoked with an unbeliever, for what partnership “does righteousness have with lawlessness?” So I grew up thinking that the apostle Paul

Was talking about dating when he used this metaphor of the yoke, being joined to someone, so that the direction one goes, the direction the other one goes. And so I only have since learned that Paul actually is not talking about dating and marriage relationships explicitly there;

He is rather talking about who the Corinthian believers were going to yoke themselves to, were going to join themselves to, between the false apostles and Paul himself. And so these false apostles, they came with a message that had a lot of Gospel elements to it,

But it wasn’t the full Gospel, it was some other message that appealed to the believers in various ways, by flattering them, by the apostles themselves acting like they were superior because of their more evident gifting. They tried to present that as evidence to these Corinthians

That God was with them, and then they pointed at Paul and said look how weak he is, look how nothing he is. Look at all the things he says that seem so impressive but actually when he shows up, he’s not that impressive. And so they used that as evidence

That God was not with Paul. Now, I think the answer to the question should a Christian date or marry an unbeliever, the answer’s no. And I think I would actually use this same verse. A verse that’s not explicitly about dating actually gives us a very important principle that we then

Apply to all of our relationships including dating. And that is, this principle that we all have this tendency to join ourselves to what appears to be the most impressive according to standards that may or may not line up with God’s. And so really, Paul’s instruction here

Is an appeal to the believers to be impressed with what God’s impressed with, to value what God values, and then to make your decisions relationally based upon those. So that has everything to do with dating. What we love, what we join ourselves to, we will be like.

And so when we apply that to dating and eventual marriage, what that person you’re dating loves will shape what you love. And if that person does not love God, it will absolutely shape and influence your ability to love God as well. So what they do positively love

You will be more compelled to love and so it’s a stewardship of your heart to assess the people around you that are options for marriage, to assess them according to God’s values, what God says is most important, what God says is most true, what God says is most life-giving,

And not to listen to what the world says is most valuable or most life-giving. And Paul knew this. And so Paul was trying to say to them their “love” for you is a self-serving version of love, where they’re using you in order to create a greater platform of influence for themselves, whereas,

And this is what the entire book of 2 Corinthians is about, whereas I have suffered for you, I have taken on loss in order for me to be able to build you up in Christ; that is the definition of love. So real love has at its purpose the building of that in someone.

And so what exists in a dating and moving towards marriage relationship between a believer and an unbeliever is that one of the core purposes of love just simply can’t be. And so, this is why I think Paul, we can construct a very compelling argument from a lot of what Paul says,

And a lot of what the rest of Scripture says, why a believer should not be dating an unbeliever. We haven’t made a distinction yet between dating and marriage, because I’m seeing dating as the purpose of moving towards marriage. The reason I do that, and I don’t just have

Dating as its own separate fun thing to do that doesn’t involve marriage, is I don’t think the Bible gives us a category for romantic connection, increasing self-disclosure and intimacy merely for the purpose of enjoyment or pleasure. It’s always for the establishment of this permanent relationship when it’s between a man and a woman.

So let’s get practical for a moment. What do you do if you’re currently in a dating relationship with an unbeliever? Well, I have heard many people justify that reality by calling it “missionary dating,” where they want to have a strong influence on them.

And honestly, I think people are sincere when they say this, so I’m not doubting the sincerity of that; you want their good in them coming to Jesus Christ. But I would simply challenge you with what I said earlier, actually is your stewardship for your life and what you love

And the direction of your soul. And you need to take seriously what God says about yoking yourself to someone else; they will in some sense be very influential in steering, that’s what the yoke is, in steering where you go. And so if you really want them to come to faith,

And you’re really willing to trust the Lord Jesus for their salvation, then I would challenge you to think long and hard about who you might suggest being placed in their life, who might invest in them with the Gospel that wouldn’t be in a dating relationship

And have alternate elements of the relationship going on. Because what you think might put that person in a better place to come to faith might actually be a hindrance to them coming to faith. And again, I know the stories of missionary dating “working” in the sense of people really coming to faith.

So I am not doubting that the Lord can do that, but your responsibility is not to think about what the Lord can do but what He tells you to do. And then also thinking practically maybe for a different set of people who might be watching this video,

Some people might already be married to an unbeliever, and they maybe have suffered in various ways because of it, and it causes them angst, I just want to say a word of comfort to you, that there’s a reason that 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Peter 3 is in your Bible.

And both of those passages talk about the powerful effect that a believing spouse, particularly a wife actually, in those passages, but the powerful effect a believing spouse living out their faith can have on an unbelieving spouse. And God doesn’t make any explicit promises for your particular situation;

I realize that and I know you feel the pain of that fact, but don’t let the power of those words in any way be undermined. God is pleased as you serve your spouse and as you are faithful to your spouse, by faith in Jesus according to the strength that He provides,

God is pleased with that. And both Paul and Peter are acknowledging that there’s real power behind that. There’s a mysterious power behind that. So be encouraged that your labor is not in vain, and whatever tears you’ve shed about it, or whatever hardships you’ve endured because of it, they’re not in vain.

So let me just end by broadening our perspective to put this thing in its proper place. We need to remember that marriage is a picture of a greater reality. And it is not meant for ultimate life fulfillment. And so that takes the stakes down a bit,

Because marriage is a gift from the Lord; it’s meant to establish a covenant union between two people that displays Jesus’s love for His church, that’s what it’s meant for. And so when we keep that purpose in mind, it helps us put this whole thing in perspective,

Where we don’t get to use dating and marriage for our own purposes alone. So the general instruction that a Christian should not date and marry an unbeliever, it’s not prejudiced, it’s not tribalism. It’s a statement of the purpose of marriage being for something larger than our own earthly satisfaction.

It’s a larger picture; it’s helping each other learn to love God and to do what He says through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so we use it for His purposes and not for our own. – [Narrator] Thanks for watching Honest Answers. Don’t forget to subscribe.

#Christian #date #marry #NonChristian

The G20 Interfaith Forum in Buenos Aires: Religious Perspectives for the 2018 Global Agenda

– I am Katherine Marshall, welcome to the Berkley Center. Berkley Center, despite the location is a part of Georgetown University, 12 years old. It reports directly to the president of the university and is a very multi-disciplinary organization. Also, welcome to the World Faiths Development Dialogue,

Which is a small NGO that is housed here, and that was born in an improbable location, which is the World Bank, and is now approaching its 20th anniversary, so we are very happy to welcome all of you here. I’m going to do a very short introduction, basically saying what this is all about.

And then, we’ll pass it to the panel who will give brief comments and then we’ll have a conversation and we’ll go on. So I’ll introduce the panel when I finish with this. Next week, there is an ambitious meeting taking place in Buenos Aires, which is the G20 Interfaith Forum.

And it’s one of many global efforts to try to bring religious voices into discussions about international policy. The basic idea is to have religious institutions, religious ideas at the table. And one of our classic comments is, if you’re not at the table, you end up on the menu.

So that the basic idea though, is to see which religious voices, which tables, and how should they be represented. So, this particular effort is focused on the G20, which started in 2008, with the initially, primarily, as an economic advisory body but has evolved and expanded over time.

One of the features of the G20 is that the tone and the agenda are set by the host country which shifts every year from one country to another. So last year, it was in Germany, and it was very much a Merkel agenda. This year, it is in Argentina,

So it’s very much an Argentine agenda, led by the Argentine government. There’s no permanent G20 secretariat. And then, next year it’s Japan. And the following year, 2020, it will be in Saudi Arabia. So one of the questions is, are the pros. What is the advantage of focusing on the G20

For the efforts that we as speaking from religious perspectives are looking at. It’s a channel for focus and influence. Another feature is that it’s quite flexible. In other words, you don’t have some of the rigidity of the United Nations systems and conventions, et cetera. The disadvantages are that it’s flexible

And also that there is an enormous competition for ideas that’s taking place, so it’s not a virgin field where you can just go and have an influence on the G20 leaders, you really need to have a strategy. So, the question, which religious voices on which agendas.

One of the efforts I’ve been part of the organizing group for the G20 this year, and for the past several years, is to have a network of networks, which is the foundation for the legitimacy of the voice of the forum. In other words, it’s not just the people there,

It’s the networks that lie behind them. Another feature, and that’s very important is strong links to the host government communities, in this case, of course, Argentina, and of course, one feature of Argentina is that the Pope is an Argentine, and therefore, there are a lot of personal relationships

And history that go into the Vatican as well as other relationships. Rabbi Skorka who knows this very well was here last week at Georgetown. He will not be at the forum, but others will. So the aim is to ensure that the recommendations that come out reflect both sound analysis

And broad consultation, in other words, it’s not just off the top of your head. Another feature is that we know very well that religious communities often disagree. The idea that there is a single religious voice is frankly a nonsense. So one of the objectives is to make sure that the religious voice presented

Includes a respect for difference of views and for dialogue, both among religious communities but also between religious and secular communities. Broadly, for the 2018, the most logical entry point has been wide concerns about social cohesion. And that includes populism and the threats of nationalism, but also extremism, obviously,

All of which are of concern to religious groups. So very briefly, this is the fifth forum. It’s a very ambitious meeting with a rich agenda. It’s all on the website now. These forums have become increasingly focused and ambitious over time. It was originally quite academic with a religious liberty focus

But it’s not much broader. Relates to the agenda set by the host country as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. And it’s gone from invisibility, nobody knew about it, to increasing visibility and the International Shinto Foundation this year has provided substantial support to increase the visibility. So this meeting is being videotaped

And the footage we hope will be useful for the forum itself. So it’s an evolving and an ambitious initiative, which you can find on the website, and I would also add that Georgetown and WFDD’s roles have grown over time. So the questions for us here, which shall be put to the panel,

Are the possible impact on leaders of well-crafted proposals and effective communication, how to build on the network of religious networks, how to link to the other engagement groups, we’ve particularly focused on what’s called the T20, which I will not ask you to guess what that means.

It is the network, the engagement group of think tanks, which is a very dynamic, but you also have the C20, B20, L20, W20, Y20 and S20, and this, now is the I20, the Interfaith. So some specific topics and themes that are emerging are the preferential option for the poor,

What does that mean, children, violence, modern slavery, and also work, education, food security and health. So that’s just a brief sort of preview of what this is all about, and now we are absolutely delighted today to have a wonderful group. Unfortunately, David Moore, the acting deputy administrator

Of USAID can’t come to Buenos Aires. My understanding is that you’ve given a priority to the United Nations General Assembly. (laughing) – He meets the needs. (all laughing) – But he has a long background, particularly in law. He was a professor at Brigham Young University Law School,

Where, by the way, I am going tomorrow morning, very early. He is now, I think, very keenly interested in these issues of what’s religion got to do with it and what do we do with that? So, I would also introduce Kirsten Evans,

Who I think you, what, are a week on the job then? Roughly, (laughing), as the head of the office in USAID that works with faith communities, so we’re delighted to welcome you here, I think for the first time, perhaps. – Thank you very much. – Here. Ambassador Cynthia Hotton is the Argentine representative

At the OAS, and I’m happy to say she will be going to Buenos Aires, as will Kirsten. So we have two people who are very much a part of the forum and finally, my colleague, John Monahan is the senior advisor to the president of Georgetown University, especially in calling the health issues.

But he covers many others, and he also has a very long and distinguished career that include public service, academia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So we will just invite each of you to speak. You can speak from the table, or you can speak from the podium, as you wish,

With, hopefully, with the microphone. And I know you will have to leave at some point. – Right. – Early on, but we’ll just keep an eye on the time. – From the mic, I’m gonna ask Ashley, my assistant to see if we can scoot back, ’cause I apologize that we arrived late.

So I wanted to thank Katherine for hosting this event. It’s an honor to be with you here. I wish I were going to be with the group in Buenos Aires next week, but I have attended two of the interfaith forums, so I was in Istanbul and Beijing,

And very personally supportive of the work that the forum is engaged in, and the effort to bring religious voices to the G20 and to the important policy discussions that occur there. I missed last year’s because of this job, I’ll miss this year’s because of this job,

But that is not to be taken as a sign that USA is not onboard with the principles that motivate the forum. And I wanna focus my remarks today on explaining how the USA shares the principles that motivate the forum and its efforts. The Interfaith Forum recognizes the importance

Of religious freedom, of religious organizations, of religious harmony to go with priorities including economic development and we share that perspective. At USA, we believe that the purpose of foreign assistance, which is our main focus is to end the need for foreign assistance. Now, we don’t say that because we don’t want to help

Our friends, but because we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being. Where we believe that every country, or community, every individual wants to be empowered to lead its own future, and so we focus on and speak of the journey to self reliance

And believe that when a country’s willing to take the, make the hard choices, invest the efforts that it takes to progress on that journey, we should be there at its side. As part of that approach, this journey to self reliance, we focus on helping partner countries strengthen capacities and policies

That experience tells us are necessary for a country to reach self reliance, to become, to stable in the long term and ultimately to enjoy prosperity. And among the critical foundations along that journey, is freedom of religion, as this administration has emphasized and as we recognize at USAID.

We recognize that freedom of religious is key to peace and stability, it’s a cornerstone to citizen responsive governance, which is what we try to produce in our democracy work. It’s a key, not only to economic development writ large, but particularly to inclusive development and to the rule of law.

And, of course, it’s intertwined with so many other aspects of democratic societies, so many other freedoms like the freedom of association, the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. So we see religious freedom as a key, both goal of development and cornerstone of development. And we’re painfully aware that when religious freedom

Is absent, development suffers. One very unfortunate and recent example, and it’s an extreme one, admittedly, but it’s a real one, is the situation in northern Iraq, where we saw ISIS wage genocide against Christians, Yazidis, other vulnerable populations there. And where we see that after the area has been liberated,

Formerly by ISIS, much work remains to be done, particularly with these religious and other minority communities. A significant focus for us right now has been investing in, not only infrastructure development, the sort of things you might suspect are important to allowing people to return after a genocide and the sort of destruction

That occurred in the wake of ISIS, but also, we’re looking at issues that are particular to vulnerable communities. How, what entices or what allows a vulnerable community to want to return voluntarily to an area where this sort of genocide occurred? ‘Cause it’s not just, obviously, providing water and schools and infrastructure,

There are deeper issues there, and issues, obviously, that tie into this principle of religious freedom. So again, I want to emphasize that religious freedom is a development goal, it’s also a foundation for our development work. In addition, we recognize tremendous power of religious and religious organizations

To drive development, obviously this fits very well with the goal of the Interfaith Forum to bring religious voices to the table on these global issues, including economic development. So we see firsthand, for example, the power of faith based initiatives to deflate the appeal of violent extremism.

We work with faith leaders because they tend to be pivotal leaders in their community, they can be promoters of peace, tolerance, justice, they can be, lead some of the entities that are the first to remember the poor and marginalized in communities. And even more practically speaking, we work with these entities because,

Whether it’s in our development assistance or our humanitarian assistance, we need to reach corners and communities in the world where governments cannot effectively go, or have chosen not to go. We need to be able to touch and reach people who have been left behind or forgotten,

And in many settings, that means that partnering with communities of faith is not just the best way to reach these vulnerable populations or forgotten populations, it’s the only way to do so. And faith based partners offer a particularly rich avenue for doing that because they are often uniquely trusted

By these communities, they could harness networks, really, networks of networks, right, but certainly in country, that’s the principle, right, that these religious leaders have networks on the ground that can be mobilized to assist with development efforts and to provide insights that otherwise might be missing.

So let me just give you a couple of examples where USAID has been doing this sort of work in the Central African Republic, with our Interfaith Peace Building Partnership, which is a consortium of five actors, led by Catholic Relief Services. It brings together organizations that represent Catholics, Muslims and Protestants

To help overcome sustained political instability and intermittent armed conflict. So we’re working with these entities to strengthen the capacity of global institutions, to generate secure livelihoods and to provide healing and peace education, and in many of these programs, religious leaders take a part. They are local influencers.

They provide motivation to communities to want to find lasting peaceful solutions. Another example, another group we are proud to partner with is Food for the Hungry in Ethiopia, where we, Food for the Hungry has engaged local religious leaders to help promote things like better hygiene, maternal and child health, including access

To nutritious foods, clean water, et cetera. And this work has reached about half a million people with food aid, so just another example. There are so many we could cite of the great work that faith based organizations do, and so recognizing their practical impact is so critical that their voices be included

As we think about the challenges the G20 tries to address. At AID, recognizing these benefits, we are constantly looking to expand our work with faith based organizations, as one recent example, in June we signed a memorandum of understanding with Malteser International, to coordinate country and regional activities

In the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. As many of you know, Malteser represents the Order of Malta in the United States, and is one of the largest Catholic relief organizations. In all these efforts, I wanna highlight, we seek to ensure that faith based organizations have equal opportunity to compete for USAID assistance

And contracts and so we have a regulation that makes clear that religious organizations are eligible on the same basis as any other organization to participate in USAID programs, for which they would otherwise qualify. It’s been kind of a process, generally, to get assistance or a grant, but it is key,

And this regulation ensures that it’s a matter of law, religious organizations are on the same footing in that effort, and we have those regulations, obviously, because we recognize the value of partnering with faith based community groups. Those regulations also ensure our commitment that faith based groups can play this role,

This partnering role, without surrendering their essential identities. So, it recognizes that partnering with USAID, for example, does not change hiring opportunities that a faith based, or priorities that a faith based organization might have. So, with that, just wanna conclude saying, as we look forward to the G20 Interfaith Summit next week,

We at USAID applaud these efforts, are keenly aware of what makes faith based groups such valuable partners, we’re keenly aware of the importance of religious freedom to development of the individuals and society, where we fully support the Forum’s goals of promoting religious freedom and focusing critical attention on the role

That religion and religious organizations play in development, so although I’ll be at UNGA and miss the Forum, I look forward to the lessons learned and the light that the Forum will shine on this critical link between religion and development. Thank you. – Thank you so much. Ambassador Hotton, next. – Thank you.

Well, first of all, I can say that it is a privilege to be here with you this morning. And also, because this is such a prestigious position for me, also, this is very important. And also because Argentina is going to welcome almost all of you next week, so I am very proud

To be part of this incredible country that is receiving many countries of the world to really spend time to find solutions, the best solutions that we can find in our difficult world, so only sometimes. So, well, maybe I would like to, oh. First of all, I’m sorry to correct,

But I’m not the ambassador, I am the second of that position of Argentina. Just a detail, but if I don’t correct, there’s a problem. It would be a problem. Okay, having said that, well, why I am here, because usually there are many actors that are directly involved in issues that have to be with religion, and I represent Argentina to the Organization of American States, but, well, personally I was really involved during my whole life,

In everything that has to with inter-religious dialogue, for example, Skorka, he’s a good friend, and we’ve met, we’ve done many many things together. But well, I am a diplomat, but in the moment, what I’ve seen that religious freedom was also respected in Argentina. There were little details that were not taken into account,

So I decided to participate with politics, and I became a national congresswoman, the first evangelical congresswoman in Argentina. That was really hard because it’s a Catholic country and we didn’t have evangelicals, so it was very hard in my community because usually they would say, don’t enter into politics,

And if it was a woman, worse. But, I’d also for the rest, for the media, is like what, you’re evangelical. So, and also, the problem is that I wanted to be vote in issues that had to be religion, so even if I was in politic, I wanted to do,

But in the, through the, under the umbrella of politic, but freedom. And I’m not going to tell you now the details, but it was maybe for you, interesting to know, but if you have questions I can tell you more about that, is that I presented the bill in Argentina

That was for freedom and equality in religion. And at that moment, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires was Bergoglio,, the actual pope. And you know, the idea, when we talk about religious freedom and equality, it’s not that we want to be, if there is an importance in culture

Or for a church that it’s the major church, it’s not that there is some competition. We don’t want to compete, we want the same rights, and the rights have to be equal for everybody, so it’s not a competition between different churches. It’s like we need the same umbrella to prevent us,

To kinda enjoy our freedom in religion. That include freedom of belief, conscious, and everything, you know. So the first thing I did, is I went to see him. And then we started a very good relationships, I could tell you many details, but that’s not the point of this conversation.

But the first thing I did is went to see him, and I told him, I need the support of the Catholic church, because if you don’t understand that this is for everybody, it was going to be interpreted as it is a competition, or that the new churches

Want to compete with the Catholic Church. And I don’t want that, so if you don’t understand, in fact, the meaning of this bill, I will not present it, because it’s not the evangelicals against. And so after, he said, leave me this, it was a huge bill, not just

A couple of articles, 37 articles. And after a month, he called me and he said, “I cannot disagree.” So the Catholic Church promoted with, also the Jewish, Muslims, all that, this particular bill, and well, at the last moment, because it went positively in many committees,

But at the last moment, after three years of debate, they started with the debate on abortion and gay marriage and so that made not very important to still continue in the debate of religious freedom, so that is why it stopped, but now the present government

Is promoting again, the same bill, with some alterations. So it is now under debate and in the congress. And well, now as a diplomat, I am here at the OAS, and I’ve heard about this contact group, for religious freedom and belief, and of course, I am so involved with this

That I’ve asked my government, really to be part. And in this is, yes, something that I want to tell you, is that we are thinking about an umbrella for our region, so that is why now we are thinking, the OAS, the Organization of American States, that we would need some, maybe inter-American convention

On religious freedom because as you may know, in the other regions of the world, it would be harder to think of this possibility. But America in general, and also in Latin American countries, if you think about it, there is not much conflict in religious freedom, between religions, it’s not like in Asia

Or in other regions of the world. So you think, is that so important, to have this umbrella convention or to be sure that in each country the religious freedom is respected. If you see the, sorry, we look young but we, First up, we see that the 17th annual report

Of the US Commission of International Religious Freedom, there are only two countries from Latin America that are mentioned there, it’s Cuba and Mexico. And still, it is not the countries that are most concerned. There are some, of course, Cuba, you can say, of course, before it was really hard to practice

Freely of religion, but now it’s going better, but there is still some deterioration in the conditions of religious freedom due to, there are short term detentions and some threats to churches, some expropriation, and some destruction of particular properties. But this has to do with the idea of the control of the government

To what is going on with the society. They want to moniterate or limit the church’s influence into the society. Now, in the case of Mexico, it’s not something that is in the national realm, but it’s mostly in some communities, some provinces, so we could say that the problem

That we could have in Mexico are more communal at the communal level, where, for example, the majority religion, the Catholic Church, would be, but it’s more like how they live in that community, their faith, for example, they will do a special event, activity or all that, and they would impose

To the minority religions that they have to pay or participate in special events, and if they don’t they will go and maybe burn the churches or some houses, but it’s really particular cases. It’s not something that is more promoted by the government. So these are, these two cases that are mentioned

In the annual report, but unfortunately, now there are two countries that are having huge problems with religious freedom and also that are, that the churches, or I would say the religious actors are now not respected, and these are Nicaragua and Venezuela. Such it is that US Special Ambassador

For the religious freedom, Ambassador Brownback, went for the first time to the Organization of American States, the permanent council, and it was the first time that in that organization we would talk about religious freedom. So the first time, I was so happy, personally, because, I’m going to, I’ll explain that later,

But and so, what, and he came to talk about these, of course, to talk about the possibility of all the countries to participate at the G20 and sorry, the Interfaith Forum, because you have the ministerial here the United States, in July, it was. But he mentioned that the United States

Is really concerned about what is going on in Nicaragua and in Venezuela, because first of all, the two countries, the two governments, started with the religious leaders to respect them as mediators for the dialogue, and you have mentioned that is very important. But then they realized that they wouldn’t

Directly respond to their will, but really they were representing mostly the needs of the population, so they’ve started to really impose some violence directly to those leaders or to some communities that are more important in this. So really, what we see is that in those two countries,

What is happening is that when you do not respect religious freedom, may believe that you don’t respect many others human rights. So you have so many human rights that are not as respected, one of them is religious freedom. Maybe it’s not the most seen or followed

By the countries, but still it is happening. And if we think about what the religious organizations are doing in those countries, and you know a lot what is happening there, inside the country, for family, I would talk especially in Venezuela. Inside the country, the only humanitarian help

That they would receive is through the religious communities and ONGs, because the government doesn’t know to receive any help from any country. So the only organization, the PAHO, the Pan-American Health Organization, is the only one that can introduce that dialogue, can enter into the country and help in health,

Because the crisis in health is terrible. Yesterday, we received some report at the OAS and 80% of the hospitals are not working. For example, in Argentina, we have received so many doctors from Venezuela, they leave the countries. And stayed their countries, so there are no doctors and the diseases are increasing because

They do not receive the medicine, they don’t want to open the route to receive medication or food, and so what they’ll do is organizations, these religion organization called, faith based organizations, is that they can receive. The debate is if they will do that or not,

Because they can only receive that through the government. So is the government that is also helping them to distribute, so it’s a way of reinforce the support to the government of Maduro or the regime. But still, they know that Caritas, for example, they are doing an incredible job there,

But what they said, and many of them came to Washington, D.C. telling us, we are doing the best we can, but the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is so huge that it’s not enough. Even if we were work all together, and you want to send food and medicine through us,

You won’t solve that such a humanitarian problem. And, I can tell you more details, but the last thing I would explain is that in the region, you have all the borders of Venezuela, you can imagine that in this, during these five years, they are, there are 2.6 million

Of Venezuelans in our region that had migrated and we are countries that are not prepared to receive so many migrants, and so what we have now, it’s the huge crisis in the borders of Venezuela, with Colombia, with Ecuador, with Brazil is terrible, and those, and there you have all these

Faith based communities that are helping. We receive a lot of help from the United States that cannot enter into Venezuela, but they can work in the borders, mostly with about Colombia, Vice President Pence was there. And but also, in our countries, because the migrants are going everywhere,

And for somebody in Argentina, I have calls from many pastors that are calling me, “We have so many Venezuelans in our churches.” And the churches are receiving them, helping them with houses, work, we try to find work for all these people, so there is a huge network that is working and it’s mostly

With faith based organizations that contain support it. So this is an idea of what is going on in our region, specifically in Latin American countries, and also, I think that it is important for you to know that this is the really, the first time that the Organization of American States

Is thinking about something, that it is important to think about in the human rights agenda that we have to include religious freedom, right, because it is not till now, thank you. – Let me say a couple things. First off, I’ve had the privilege, over the course of my career, both working domestically

And internationally, domestically both for reform programs, refugee resettlement programs in the United States, early childhood programs, access to affordable medical care, to be working with faith based organizations here, like the Catholic church, the evangelical community. And they’re an indispensable part of how our country responds to human needs.

And when I worked internationally at the State Department, and represented the US in a political role for the Fight AIDS, TB and malaria, working with the president’s emergency plan for AIDS relief, all those, both of those programs include faith based communities both in the support for their initiatives, as the USAID is continuing

To be a central part of that agenda, and in country, because I think the practical reality is that many parts of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, faith based communities are backed by a health delivery system, so I’m absolutely committed and think that the vision of faith communities

Is central to health and development both in the United States and abroad, it’s critical. I guess I’d say a couple things just thinking ahead for this G20. The first point is that I think, while obviously the issues of religious freedom are important. I think the faith community is at its most powerful

When it speaks in a common moral voice about who’s been excluded and expands our, what I think of as our moral perimeter, so whether it’s in your community or your nation or the world, it’s not them, it’s not competition and it’s not people who aren’t religious.

In fact, it’s all of, that’s why we share our common human dignity, which the pope talks about as well, and the great religious traditions do. And so I think that’s an opportunity for this interfaith group to be that common voice of a broad moral perimeter, and every community throughout the world.

It can be a voice for the people whose human rights are being violated, whether it’s the right to religious faith or a human right as a person of color or as a woman or as an LGBTQ person, anybody who has been excluded or marginalized in any organization.

So that’s, I think that’s just a great opportunity for an organization like that to be that common force. Two, is it seems to me that the G20, and thanks to our colleagues from Argentina, there’s a terrific opportunity. They’ve, at least in the health space, I don’t pretend to know the full breadth

Of the things that USAID ideas work. But the decision to continue the health minister’s track as part of the G20 that started last year in Berlin, the minister has laid out a very ambitious agenda including anti-microbial resistance, health system strengthening, universal health coverage, combating pandemics, it’s a huge opportunity.

If you think about faith communities are so intimately involved in health care everywhere in the world. Everyone of those issues is critical. In fact, we here at the, Katherine, not myself, but Katherine and our colleagues here at the Berkley Center work with a network of Catholic health delivery systems, I just think there’s a huge opportunity here on that track, and then looking ahead to next year, if the, I think the Argentinian presidency is clearly building on the work from Germany. Next year it’s in Japan, Japan has been a leader in universal health coverage as a global priority

And I just think this could be a terrific opportunity, I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes out on this (mumbles) in October. And then the last, sort of the third thought I had, is maybe this gets back to the inclusion idea, is the theme of this G20 is broadly,

How do we bring more people into this prosperity, how do you, so how do we figure out how to deal with, acknowledge it, and then rapidly change the world, and I think here’s a place where health is central to vote and to work. If we want to succeed in the modern economy,

We need healthy workers. That’s true in all what the president an important agenda, opioids for example here, I think this is a major issue both abroad and also to fulfill the agenda that Washington has put out, and I think also deals with attrition. I think that fits within the attrition agenda,

And fits within this broader full agenda, and again some exciting linkages, and I think we had this argument’s been well positioned. That’s clear, so those are just a few thoughts. I just think broad, moral vision is a huge opportunity for this group. Second is why the crack what we’ve got,

The experience like of the health cribe. And then, participating in this broader debates (mumbles). – So, I will try to brief also and in order to open the floor up to questions. I was asked by the center if I could make a few comments in following of Deputy Administrator Moore’s comments

About the larger, 30,000 foot vision of USAID’s space to talk more specifically about what my office does. Specifically within the agency, and what our folks or expectations are for the G20 Interfaith Summit next week, so to give you a sense of what we do,

I am in the office for the Center for the Interfaith and Opportunity Initiatives. We are an office that was founded in 2002 under the Bush administration imitative for the Executive Order for the integration of a faith based and small community initiative strategy across the federal government at large

And the work that we do. And today, we are part of an overall national strategy on religious leaders, faith based community engagement. Which is encouraging US government officials to develop and deepen their relationships with religious leaders and faith communities as they carry out, in the case of USAID, foreign policy responsibilities.

Under this administration, there’s three foreign policy objectives that are specific to engaging religious actors, and they are, as Deputy Administrator mentioned the advancing of pluralism and human rights, including the protection of religious freedom, the promotion of sustainable development, and more effective humanitarian assistance, and the prevention and resolution of violent conflict

And contributing to local and regional stability and security. And as you can see USAID is deeply involved in all three of those objectives in the engagement of religious actors. So the role of the Center for Faith and Opportunity initiatives is to provide the practical support and assistance to the administrator, USAID, to staff

And to our field missions, in our mission countries around the world in order to implement this strategy of faith based engagement. Faith based communities, as we’ve mentioned, are integral to USAID’s success in the field. Across the globe, religious leaders in faith communities make significant contributions to sustainable development

To the promotion and protection of human rights, to conflict mitigation and resolution. There’s not a field office or a bureau or a area expert at USAID that would not tell you the practical importance of working with small community initiatives and faith based organizations on the ground. Religious leaders and religious communities

In the countries where we implement our programming are often the most trusted members of those communities, and they’re able to reach populations where the United States government or large multi-lateral organizations or multinational organizations are not able to reach. Religious leaders are authorities that can localize followers using faith inspired language, where

Our values overlap and coincide. And in order to achieve development and humanitarian objectives. They can provide justification for action, for peace, for pursuit of social goods in a way that large foreign entities or international actors are not able to speak to a local community with the same closeness or trust.

They’re frequently better position to target the poorest or the most marginalized and the least accessible members of their own societies. And are better positioned to know the most effective ways to do that than we are from the outside. And as I mentioned, they’re uniquely positioned to counter extremism by offering peace,

Reconciliation, universal human rights initiatives, often times under those banners of religious affiliations that speak to the local community. The work that we do at USAID is we are in many ways dependent on the interfaith and faith based community network around the world. One half of the work in health and education in

Sub-Saharan Africa is done by various churches or faith based communities, one half, and not just what USAID is involved in, but for sub-Sahara Africa, as a whole, one half of all the educational and health initiatives in that continent are run by church based or local community based organizations.

So, our office operates on the premise that religion can increase the effectiveness and the impact of development programming, not really doing per se, but working with faith based entities, can increase the development. The effectiveness and impact of development programming. So how do we operate practically within our office?

We do that with I’d say two views. One is a view towards our partners on the ground. So our responsibility is to find ways to provide bridges for these local communities in the area, to be able to connect with USAID to understand our mission and to understand the process

By which they can become partners. As Administrator Moore mentioned, it’s a very competitive process, and a lot of these smaller organizations are from the get go intimidated by the process and are not entirely well equipped to be able to navigate and manage the complexities of competing for grants and funding

From a large international organization and so our office is to help to give them the tools and the toolkit to be able to do that more effectively from where they are. And to eliminate any barriers encountered for them. We seek to level the playing field for these communities, making partnerships with USAID

Possible for these groups, and we also have a glance toward the local community as well. We seek to convey faith based community groups to catalyze new opportunities and to be a voice for innovative partnerships, new programming designs, a wider strategic thinking and strategic vision on how to increasingly engage public private

Charitable partnerships in order to achieve shared development goals. In the words of President George W. Bush, and I quote him because he’s the founder of this initiative, the faith based initiative, Governments cannot be replaced by charities, but can issue welcome and its partners. We must head the growing consensus in America

That successful government social programs work in fruitful partnership with community serving the faith based organizations, and at USAID we take that philosophy just within the United States, but we take that into the field with us. Very quickly, I’ll mention some things that we do not do

In order to debunk common myths about faith based engagement by the United States government but since pardoned by the USAID in the international space. We do not favor one religious community of faith over any other, that’s a common myth. We promote partnership with people of all faiths,

As well as small community based organizations that are not necessarily associated with a particular religious affiliation or culture but are developed or grass roots initiatives out of particular communities. Faith based organizations who receive federal funding must be willing to serve people of all faith and any government programming services that you provide,

So we mandate that that funding be non-discriminatory in the programming that’s offered. Organizations who receive federal funds cannot discriminate against who they serve. Faith based communities do not get preferential treatment is another myth, or consideration over other organizations. I mentioned that we’re here to level the playing field.

That does not mean we’re here to tilt the playing field, right, we’re here to level the playing field. What we wanna do is give these communities the ability to compete against some of the larger, more equipped local development organizations that are out there. We are not here to give them an undue advantage

Over those organizations but to give them the tools to be able to compete in the marketplace for funding. USAID does not discriminate for or against any religious organizations in the competition for USAID grants and funding. You are neither at a benefit or at a loss because you are a faith based organization

When you come to us in the competition for funding. Or receiving funding. Another myth is that we do not fund religious promotion and activities through faith based organizations. So, USAID is very careful to respect the establishment clause in our engagement with the international community, and in fact we safeguard and administer the same

Standards of the establishment clause, that there should be no law respecting an establishment of religion or compendium free exercise of religion. That’s obviously a constitutional principal that is directed towards the governance of the United States, but we take that same principle and we apply it with an equal measure in our engagement

In the international world. That means that we do not fund explicitly religious activities that’s worship, religious instruction, proselytization, and we ask from many of our organizing partners that all government funds must be utilized for a secular purpose. Religious activities that they may offer need to be done separately in both time and location

For USAID funded services. That does not mean these organizations can’t maintain their religious identity because of course they can, but we do safeguard that any American taxpayer dollar that is going to help fund these organizations that that money arrives to programming that is not specifically religious in nature.

That is humanitarian nature or is meeting our development needs. The programs we fund cannot endorse or disapprove of any religion, they may not result in any government indoctrination of religion, they may not define recipients by reference to religion, and they may not create an excessive entitlement of religion, and again those are principles

Again of the constitutional establishment clause within the United States and we aim to apply them at as even a hand as we can in the international community. So finally our expectations for the G20 Interfaith Summit, it’s not the first time that we have participated in the Summit. And so I’ll say very simply,

I’ve three simple expectations that came to mind. First of all, the first is to come with the hope of a position of leadership. We like to demonstrate the American commitment to the ongoing American to the engagement of the interfaith community in shared pursuit of human rights and global development goals.

A posture I think as well of humility. Right, we come to learn. And these type of events create an unprecedented environment in which to cross pollinate and share ideas and understand best practices and understand in a deeper way the experience of our partners around the world.

And then finally, we come with a hope of a position of innovations, to reach the sustainable developing goals of global communities to harness creative energy, enterprise innovation, seeking new paradigms and new models through technology, business partnerships, creative program design. The goal of low assistance is to end the need for it,

And this is perhaps one of the most important charges in human history, and one that deserves the best of the world’s creativity and its innovation. So we hope this will to come with the intention to keep thinking out of the box in global development solutions worldwide. Thank you. – So thank you all.

Let’s thank all of our panel, but also all of you for your attentive commitment and really, we are in a position of humility and of enormous curiosity, and recognizing that this G20 challenge is an enormously complex one, it is approaching really the global stage, and issues affecting both

Individual countries but also the world from a moral perspective. I think John’s comment is extremely apt of the moral perimeter that I think is really what we’re trying to accomplish. And it’s a very ambitious meeting that’s happening next week, delighted to have all your perspectives on it, and look forward to continuing journey.

So thank you all so much.

#G20 #Interfaith #Forum #Buenos #Aires #Religious #Perspectives #Global #Agenda

How Interfaith Groups Make Work Better

>> PAUL: Hi everyone, my name is Paul Raushenbush. I am the senior advisor for public affairs and innovation at Interfaith Youth Core. I am thrilled about this conversation. Thank you for joining us, I am honored to be with this group of interfaith pioneers, I have

Been working in this field for a long time. I view these four panelists as pioneers in interfaith work who have made space in the workplace for people to come as they are, in the fullness of themselves as religious people, as spiritual people, no matter what

The world view. They add to the richness of the grand mix of what makes the company or an organization an excellent place to work, and a good place to spend a lot of our time which is what we do at work. We spend a lot of our lives there. These people have helped

Make individuals feel less alone, they have helped communities enjoy the diversity, the richness that exists within that space. Over the next hour, we are going to talk about interfaith, ERG which is employee resource groups or business resource groups as our

Twitter friend will explain to us. Then also, we will have a chance to hear from your questions, we want to know what goes into these things, we want to know what some of the needs are that they have met. What is the future of this kind of work in organizations and corporations?

This is a discussion between all of us and we hope we will all go away enriched and excited about the possibility of interfaith groups and interfaith cooperation located in companies. I want to start by extending my deep thanks to Farah Siddiqui, who is at Salesforce who

Founded FaithForce at Salesforce. Who really helped to organize this panel, she has this network, this wonderful network. Again, thank you very much, Farah. I’m going to do very brief introductions for each of the panelists because what you don’t want to hear is me

Droning on about it. We are going to put their longer bios in the chat, and I urge you to look at each of their bio and find these people because they are doing incredible work. Starting with Farah Siddiqui the manager of trailhead programs and processes at Salesforce and the

Cofounder and global president of FaithForce, Salesforce’s interfaith employee resource group. Dan Eckstein is a director within Accenture media and technology practice, he is the leader of extensions Jewish employee resource globally as well as the lead of interfaith employee resource group in the Northeast. Mike Klose is the cofounder and cochair of Twitter’s

Newest BRG, business resource group Twitter Faith, where he gets to champion faith inclusion at Twitter for his fellow tweeps, which is a new term for me and we will be hearing a little bit about that, around the globe and I encourage you to follow Mike on Twitter

Of course. Becky Pomerleau serves as the director of finance risk management at PayPal where she also co-leads PayPal interfaith diversity and inclusion community. Again, a huge thank you to all of our panelists and I’m going to start with you Farah Siddiqui to talk about

The genesis of FaithForce and a little bit about what are the needs that are unmet and how did you manage to start this interfaith ERG at Salesforce. >> FARAH: Thank you Paul, for a great intro. I’m excited to be here and share a little

Bit about our story at Salesforce and how we brought faith inclusion. Before I go into that, I want to give a little bit of insight into who I am which will kind of feed into why FaithForce came about. I am Muslim, born and raised in Miami, Florida. I grew up with

This identity, it has been part of me my whole life. I would say my interfaith journey has been lifelong. Because in grade school, I was an “only,” in middle school I was in “only,” in the mall I would be the only one looking like myself. In all the spaces

You want to find ways to fit in, ways to belong. I think I did that; I did that through an amazing community that I was supported by with just the Muslim community, the Pakistani community that I was part of. Also, through friendships that I made in school with people

Who are different. My best friend in elementary school was a Jehovah’s Witness. My best friend in high school was a Seventh-day Adventist. Through these relationships, it wasn’t like I was the only odd one out, they were too. We could do it together. We could be different

Together and respect each other. It was just a beautiful kind of upbringing. Being different, it was just normal to me. At the same time, I don’t think anybody likes it. To be the odd one out. Having to put on tights underneath my shorts in gym and everybody look at me

Weird like, why is she doing that? Or not eating the hotdogs during the lunch day, everyone is excited about because I couldn’t, they weren’t halal or kosher. All those things kind of weigh on you, always being a little bi6 left out and feeling that lack of belonging

That you see everybody else around you experiencing. Move on to college, finally, and a lot of the attendees here might be in college right now, or in that university setting. I was actually the president of the Muslim Student Association at my university. Why did I find

That community? Because I wanted to find like-minded people when you are surrounded by people who aren’t like you, to have that community and that support just builds your confidence in your identity. It was such a valuable time for me to find that space of belonging in

The college setting. This was all pre-9/11, then 9/11 happens. Just for my community it was just a very difficult, for the world it was a very difficult time but for the Muslim community in America to be viewed as suspicious and all the stuff, the baggage that went around

With that. There was such a need to go beyond yourself and show people that what you’re seeing in the news, what you’re seeing in the movies, that is not my community. There is so much more to Muslims and my experience is not any of that. How do I go across my

Identity and talk to people and help them see the beauty of my tradition? That is kind of led me to constantly talking and learning, joining events and listening to stories that helped me connect with people who are different. I found so much value in learning about different

Identities. Like the Black expense, LGBTQ experience and seeing my struggle in that story. Like, I relate, whatever you went through, it’s a very different lens of what I went through but at the heart, those feelings were so similar. I heard all these other stories

And I was like where is my story? Where is that faith experience? It just wasn’t as loud, and I just wanted to know if there could be space for it. Then come into work, I’ve been in corporate America for around 12 years and throughout my entire career I’ve been the

Only one who has looked like me and believed like me in the spaces that I was in. An office of 30 people or an office of 200 people, I was the only hijabi woman. Everyone’s nice, everyone’s caring, but do I really belong? There’re walls that I’m creating, there

Are walls that exist because of perceptions I know people have about my faith and they just don’t know how to talk to me about it. Can we talk about it? Can we break down those walls? At Salesforce there is already a culture of belonging, of allyship, but there just

Wasn’t that faith narrative. I just reached out to the office of equality, and asked a question to the program owner there saying, “can we add an element of faith inclusion, can we try an interfaith group?” He was down for it and he said let’s do some research

And see what we can come up with. So, we talked to a few different companies to see how they were set up and how they approached it. We didn’t really see an interfaith model; we saw a lot of faith-based models. I just knew I didn’t want to go that route, I wanted to

Find a space for myself to be able to be supported in who I am but I wanted to go beyond myself too, because there is so much value in going outside of yourself and learning about the other. How can we combine that – be your authentic self, confidence in who you are,

But also build those relationships across divides, in my case religious divides, but everything else too. FaithForce came about, we put a charter together and pitched it to our executives and they said let’s do it! No pushback, maybe a little bit, make sure

We know—how are we going to address if this happens, or that happens, there’s always concerns when you talk about religion at work? Our charter was very clear how we were going to address it. We have an HR structure at a company just like any others, so any issues we can

Just direct in the right channels. When it comes to inclusion and belonging, recognizing that faith is just a part of our identity. When we say bring your full self to work, that part is included. You couldn’t really argue against it. We got set up and launched

In five cities initially. Since then, we have grown to over 17 cities across five continents, 3000+ members of all different faith backgrounds. It has been an amazing journey; we have 50,000 employees at Salesforce, and I need to reach them all. The work is not done, but just really

Excited to be able to make a difference in my own little way. >> PAUL: Thank you so much, that was inspiring. Mike, can you tell us about your experience at Twitter? >> MIKE: For sure, first off for anybody that missed the intro, my name is Mike. I’m one

Of the cofounders and cochairs of Twitter Faith, our multifaith BRG. I use he/him pronouns, Twitter is also hiring for anybody looking for a job. Thank you so much for having me here today, I really, really appreciate this conversation. Just hearing Farah speak and

Sharing a bit of her story, I don’t know how I can follow that. Yeah, when it comes to Twitter Faith, I think I would be remiss not to give credit to a handful of other Twitter employees who, before I ever got involved, they raised their voice to our leadership

To say that faith is missing from our inclusion and diversity work, very similar to what Farah identified. Our Twitter employees which I will probably end up referring to as tweeps just by habit, they indicated to our leadership that we need to get better at this and to

Be honest, I didn’t know, I work in an office that is about 40 people. I’m probably one or two of those 40 people that identify with faith, it is not something I really talk about work or, not used to. I didn’t really know it was even possible to just raise my voice

To our leadership and indicate this. But, I am grateful for other tweeps who did, and we already have amazing work being done with existing BRG’s in our company. If our goal is truly to make Twitter the most inclusive and diverse tech company in the world, then

Faith needs to be represented as its core to the identity of billions of people around the world. Fortunately, we have such a supportive inclusion and diversity team. Making the case for Twitter faith, I don’t think was a huge challenge. Getting it off the ground has been

A very interesting experience to say the least, we launched back in January right heading into a global lockdown. As Paul mentioned, we do call our group a BRG, so a business resource group. The difference there between an ERG and a BRG. The way I see it is that

BRGs are uniquely positioned to not only impact the employee experience, but also have a voice in the policies, the products and services that our company creates and puts out in the world. For example, something that is a work in progress for us right now is, how do we

Tackle the anti-Semitism that is happening admittedly on our platform and how do we get better at getting it off our platform? That is up to us as a BRG, we are able to make the recommendations and have a seat at the table in those conversations. When it comes

To the goal and mission of our BRG, we are multifaith. We were established in order to acknowledge, celebrate and foster understanding of global faith, belief, diversity, both within our company and on our service. That again, that all ladders up to this idea of bringing

Your whole authentic self to work, not feeling like you need to check your faith at the door when you come in, not feeling like you need to head to the parking lot to pray. Not shying away from talking about your beliefs or telling people that you went to church on the weekend,

Or that you prayed about this idea that you had at work. We really want to provide cover for our tweeps and give tweeps permission to practice their faith, both at work and also, through their work. I would just say, the biggest learning that we have had in the

Past eight or so months, in starting this BRG if I can share for anyone who is looking to start one at their company or organization, we spent the bulk of the first bit just really brainstorming ideas, trying to crystallize our principles on what the BRG actually stands

For and shout out to Farah, we might have taken a peek at your charter to get some ideas as well. That was super helpful in helping us clarify, what do we stand for? A lot of trial and error, my biggest learning if you take anything away from what I’m saying, is

To form a team around you, I am nothing without my fellow chairs, without my fellow office ambassadors, we also have a committee internally within Twitter Faith, knowing I am definitely not a subject matter expert in every single faith or belief out there. We have a committee

Of probably about 10 right now tweeps that cover a whole bunch of different faiths that will consult us and answer questions that we have about different observances, holidays or just things about different faiths that I myself wouldn’t know about. That has been

Invaluable to getting things off the ground and establishing processes and really advocating for all of our Tweeps around the world. I will leave it at that, and I don’t want to take up all the time and want to hear from the other folks as well.

>> PAUL: I think it might be helpful actually if you all can find your mission statements or like your principles of operation and it would be great to supply those to the folks listening so that they can walk away with those resources, or we can send out an email

Tomorrow. Becky, do you want to go next? >> BECKY: Absolutely, I really appreciate the opportunity to be here, and to be sharing because a part of our mission for our interfaith group which we call Believe is to not just

Impact within the four walls of PayPal, but also to impact the communities where we do business and beyond. Again, I really appreciate this opportunity. I pick up on a couple of things that Mike and Farah have shared so far. I would also say for those who are interested

In starting, or just in the process of getting started, that benchmarking is so important because it really helps break down some of the concerns that folks may be having. You may have this concern, but look, Salesforce is already doing this, or Twitter is already

Doing this etc. So we, being a tech company in Silicon Valley, we’ve specifically benchmarked with Salesforce, Google, Apple, Facebook, companies that we couldn’t have people within PayPal saying, “Oh, maybe an airline is able to do that, but that is totally a different

Company culture.” We wanted people benchmarked in similar industries as us. Again, it was an appropriate benchmarking and likewise, we had looked at Farah’s charter and kind of the slide that has that here is what we will do, here’s what we’ll not do. We

Have something similar that has been a very effective communication tool because you can put it in the mission statement out there. And then people always. the very next question is, “OK, but what does that really mean in practice?” We likewise have a slide that

We always share accompanying our mission statement that says here is what we are about and here’s what we are not about. We are not about promoting a political agenda, we are not about promoting one faith over another, we are also not about trying to say, well, all faiths are basically

The same. Those are some things that as we also took around a year to get to the point of lunching, have been really key in our journey. I will take a step back and go to some of my personal reasons as well for helping to cofound Believe at PayPal. Six years ago,

I suffered a series of heart attacks. Which, I was someone who had always been an athlete my entire life, I had no pre-existing conditions, no family history of heart disease, so it came as a complete shock. In fact, the damage from the heart attacks were so severe that

Within a day of experiencing my second heart attack, I was in need of a heart transplant, which I was blessed to receive just two weeks later, which is a pretty quick turnaround by most standards, sometimes folks are on the waiting list for months or even sometimes,

Depending on the severity of their condition, a year. On a side note, if you’re not signed up to be an organ donor, please do. But what really helped me through that life alternating, painful experience of waking up in a different hospital like five days later, from skiing

And active one day, to waking up in another hospital learning I needed a heart transplant. My hope and my stability during that time were really my faith. When I was able, seven months later, to come back to work, I was thinking, that sense, that source of hope,

That source of resiliency, that’s something that I want to be able to bring more fully into my everyday life and into my work. I was very fortunate to have some connections with people in leadership positions at PayPal, who had come from other companies like AMEX

Who did have faith-based employee resource groups and had had them for like 20+ years. Our senior vice president general counsel at the time, former, but at the time, Wanji Walcott was the one who really helped from an executive level champion this. So, you

Can imagine when you have, like, your head of legal saying we should do this, that breaks down a lot of potential barriers that I’ve heard folks have run up against in other companies. And so, for me, it was really about, truly, I know it sounds a little bit cliché, but

Being able to bring that full, your whole self to work. As we were trying to convince our HR folks and our diversity and inclusion programs that there was momentum around this, what really kind of tipped the scales for us is, we had a conscious inclusion training

That everyone at PayPal was going through. One of the things they did in the training was asked people to just throw out some phrases that describe their core identity. They were finding that a lot of people actually were saying phrases or words that made reference

To their faith background. It wasn’t necessarily so much about something that you could visually observe about them, which was where our existing, what at the time we called diversity and inclusion communities, but it was something much deeper than that. Their core identities were much

Deeper than that. Our next decision point also was around, well, should we have an interfaith employee resource group? Or should we have the separate ERGs by faith background? It was really important to our D and I team to make sure that we were being inclusive and

In addition to that, as we were benchmarking with some of the other tech companies that I mentioned, who do have a variety of models. We really looked at what Salesforce was doing and said, gosh, that seems like when we think about making sure we are being inclusive and

That we are actually , when we set out are mission statement to say we want to increase understanding and awareness, we are not going to achieve that mission if we are still in our separate groups. We really want to be functioning together as an interfaith group.

That’s why we chose to go interfaith, we launched in December of last year, it was kind of a soft launch at our corporate headquarters and we did our formal global launch in June of this year. Also, in the virtual world which has had its pros and cons, certainly our programming

Because it is all done virtual is now available to folks around the world. On the other hand, we do lose a little bit of some of that in person connectivity and local office connectivity, but definitely I’m very grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to start our interfaith

Group and get it off the ground. We are at a point now where we’ve been able to get programing in place to have, which we will talk more about in a little bit, you know, things for folks to start engaging in. Our next step and our kind of next challenge is

Really, how do we, now that we are getting, increasing our membership, how do we make sure that we are putting in place the right leadership positions because we have representation from all of the major world religions. We also want to make sure we are bringing in

Representation from humanists, spiritualists that maybe don’t fall into that. Also, just the run the business type of stuff of having a communications chair, a growth chair and those types of things, that is where we are at now is making sure we get people in those

Roles so we can really grow this thing to the vision that we have. >> PAUL: Thank you, thank you. Dan, let us know what Accenture’s doing, and we’ll move on to our next question. >> DAN: Sure, and thank you again for having me. It’s an honor to be with some of my peers

Who are all on the journey of helping our employees at every company bring their whole selves to work as it relates to faith. To me, my background is similar in some respects to what Farah was saying, with the same regard, very different. For me, as an Orthodox Jewish

Person, I grew up in more of a world where my peers and friends, you know, going to private school, Jewish private school, my world was really the Jewish world. It was really only until I came into the workplace where I had that exposure to people that weren’t like

Me. The questions about do I wear a kippah, or do I not wear a kippah. These are questions of how to deal with the food situation when I’m going out for dinner, do you order XYZ or something else? So how open do I share with people about what is important to me,

Related to my faith? Those were deep questions I had to ask myself as I was going into the workplace. I had a couple of jobs and really was solidified in terms of where I was sitting

But it was really only when I came to Accenture and I remember it was probably like a year or so into it, my time here, and I heard about the, our local office, was—had some money

At the end of the fiscal year and made $1000. They heard that I was Jewish and were like, oh, we had a Jewish group, but they never really did anything, do you want the money? I said great, let’s take it, let’s figure out how we’ll be able to spend this to be

Able to engage our employees. We took our Jewish group that then was just like maybe 15 or 20 people in the New York office and we went to Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, which was right around our office in New York. It was our first event where we were bringing

People together and people were saying, wow, this is amazing that we are able to have this happen in the workplace. And then, you know, after that, I heard about this bigger interfaith group which wasn’t necessarily doing a ton, but it was around. At Accenture, it’s been

A journey for us on, you know, an interfaith spectrum. For us, it really started probably around 10 years ago as an affinity circle, which was mostly Christian employees who are gathered around the room to learn and pray together. That is sort of how it started as

A grassroots movement. It was more of an opportunity to really get people of similar like-minded interests together to be able to figure out how do they come together in the work environment. Over the years, our faith groups have really started to spring up into different areas.

Then, that has transitioned into a more formalized structure where we have both the faith groups and we have interfaith. Interfaith is the overall umbrella, then you have different faith groups Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, atheist, nonbelievers and Sikh,

And we’re now having a stronger alignment at the interfaith level with I and D, inclusion diversity leads, in order to have that tighter integration both with the company but also, between faith and interfaith. So that’s sort of been our structure and for us, one

Of the things that stands out for me is one of our building bridges workshops and what we did was after the series of racial events that happened a couple of years ago and unfortunately still to this day is building these connected workshops to bring our employees together

To talk about these topics. We ended up doing one, specifically around faith. It was just an empowering event where we brought different clergy from all the different faith groups to come in and talk. We ended off the end of the day with a Friday night Sabbath dinner

At a restaurant on the upper West side, where we had an interfaith audience being able to understand from a Jewish faith. What do the Jewish people do on a Friday night? What are the songs they are singing? To be able to experience that both from the Jewish perspectives

And from others who are non-Jewish to be able to share those types of experiences was totally different in the workplace. To me, a lot of our time now is focused on how do we make sure we have those policies and procedures, so a lot around, you know, we’re building

A new office in One Manhattan West, making sure that we have a prayer space and being able to figure out what are the things that help our employees be able to do that. From the perspective of what are the policies that, someone who wants to let’s say, come out

Of the closet, that could be from an LGBT perspective, or a faith perspective, or a disability perspective, it doesn’t make a difference. How do we make those, make sure that employees are empowered to have those types of conversations? It’s so important.

Because if the policies are there to support the employees, then the employees are necessarily going to be able to have the strength to be able to share what is important to them. Making sure that we have the policies and that we empower people. Then, it’s really training

All of our employees, across all levels around these faith accommodations. Being able to train our recruiting teams, our business teams, and finds those opportunities, like what Mike was talking about, of how do we figure out that connection to the business? Is there

A way for us to be able to think through a financial services company that wants to think about how do they bring faith into an investment strategy? How can we as consultants help them through that journey? I think what is important, especially now, is this idea of intersectionality,

Of being able to look at things not just with our own groups but also our neighboring groups. That could be both from an LGBT or racial perspective, trying to see what are the things that bring us together? Because I think that often is the thing that will really solidify

Our relationships is seeing the commonalities that we have and realizing that we are so similar together. That is a little bit about our journey, and we are now on that growth and expansion phase, moving to different locations, expanding our training, being able to really

Be pulled in by the company for these important initiatives versus, you know, the opposite. >> PAUL: I love that, I think I heard that there was actually the new corporate office was going to incorporate a prayer space which, to me, is quite revolutionary. If these groups

Can help influence the architecture of corporate America, that is really something. That’s a good example, you gave a couple good examples of how to concretize the work that you’re doing and what it really means to the employees who are in your companies. I would love for

You each to offer a brief anecdote of a time which really comes to your mind about why the work you are doing matters to people and their lives. If you could each offer just a brief anecdote of a time over the last year or two, when you felt like the work of your

Interfaith ERG or BRG, was really making a solid difference in the life of someone who showed up to work on a certain day. Farah, why don’t you kick us off and we’ll go around. >> FARAH: Sure, I have a couple of examples, you want me to keep it brief, I will try to

Find the best one. One thing is, as a person from a minority group or minority tradition, seeing that support is huge. We see that right now with our Black employees, feeling supported, feeling like your voice is heard, your community’s pain is felt, and work is done to address

It, right? I think that matters so much to our employees. As a Muslim and, you know, you can use this example for a Jewish employee, a Christian employee, there’s so many ways to look at it but, as a Muslim, coming into work when I know there is some crazy stuff

Happening in the world related to my community, it brings you down. It hurts, you want to go into a room and cry, and you have to get out and just do your work and act like nothing is wrong and that is hard. To come into work and actually, people hear about the Christchurch

Shooting, and your manager texting you in the morning saying, “Are you OK? Everything all right? If you need to take a break, go ahead.” The fact that they feel comfortable enough to reach out and say that to me now, the past 10 years no one ever said anything

About anything. It is just such a testament to the value of just creating that group, that space, that this is okay to talk about guys. Your Jewish employee is hurting right now, it’s OK to ask them if they are OK, to give them the day off if they need it.

Just like we are doing for our Black employees who need to know that we understand, and we care, and we are here to support you. At Salesforce, after Tree of Life, after Christchurch, after the Sri Lanka shootings, after these events the impacted our faith communities, where

We knew they were hurting we rallied together as a company and had these healing circles and brought in speakers from different faith traditions. For the Tree of Life example, we brought in a rabbi to share some beauty around the Jewish traditions on just explaining

About grief, and mourning, and support, and community. It was just a beautiful time to sit with their Jewish employees and listen to them and say that we are here if you need us and, as a company, we support you. And just donating where we can donate to help

Support, right? We did the same thing for Christchurch and the Muslim communities. That being shown love, and support, and seeing the tweets from your CEO, just, I never expected something like that at work. To see that FaithForce was able to help this come about. Because,

As Mike mentioned, it doesn’t take one person, it takes a team. We have an amazing team of global leaders, regional leaders, executives who are just so supportive of this message. So, I think that has been so empowering for employees to see that support. For Sikh employees

As well, right? It doesn’t matter what your identity is, we are here to support you and that is known now at the company and I think that is pretty huge. >> PAUL: Thank you. Becky, do you want to go next?

>> BECKY: At PayPal, we have other companies as well, I think you’ve used the word allyship, right? And we have an acronym for allyship—the “A” stands for “act,” “listen, learn, and yield your privilege.” In terms of ally, right? That’s how we kind of help teach

People how to be an ally, not necessarily in that order, because you should probably listen and learn before you act. A lot of our events in our year one here are focused around the listening and learning. A shout out to Farah, she was a guest speaker at an

Event that we hosted, a learning event that we hosted around Ramadan. And really describing for attendees not only what is Ramadan and how is it celebrated, but specifically, based how it is celebrated, how can you support your Muslim colleagues in the workplace? For

Example, please do not schedule meetings at the time that they are breaking their fast because they have not eaten all day, and this is their chance to actually get to eat. Or during Ramadan, please don’t, while people are fasting during the day, let’s not schedule

A big smorgasbord type of event for everyone, except your Muslim colleague feels left out because they cannot partake in that event. So, coming out of that event, what was really I think a key win for us, is that our Muslim colleagues were saying how, Farah talked about

This already, but how it made them feel so included when there were all these people not of the Muslim faith attending the event, and actively wanting to, having that natural curiosity, and actively wanting to learn about it. When we have Muslim events, it is not,

OK, so all the Muslim people show up. We have Muslim events and the Christian, and the Jewish, and the atheist and everyone else show up in addition to the Muslims. But to really learn about it, to build those bridges even within our faith communities so that we can

Support each other in the workplace. >> PAUL: Great. Mike? >> MIKE: When I think about impacts of Twitter Faith so far, I think that one thing we discovered pretty quickly was that a really easy entry point for people into the conversation around

Faith is food. Normally, in non-COVID times, we would be gathering around a table with our friends, and our families, and communities and sharing a meal, and having conversation. But, obviously, that is not possible right now. But even still, food provides a way to

Break down barriers. Take that, alongside this idea that faith is fun. I think we get so caught up sometimes in being really serious about faith, there is a time and a place for sure, don’t get me wrong. When I think of my beliefs in the Bible, it says the joy of

The Lord is your strength. At Twitter Faith, we are trying to find ways—How do we make faith fun and accessible and create an entry point for people? Over the course of the past six months, we put on now four different virtual events where, for four different faith traditions

And occasions, Tweeps have done a cooking demonstration for some kind of a dish or baked good that relates to the occasion that they are celebrating. We started with Purim a few months back, where a Tweep made these hamantaschen cookies, which were so deliciously looking,

I didn’t taste it myself. From there, we moved on to Orthodox Easter, where another Tweep from Ireland did a baking demo of this cake she was making. Then, we moved on to Islamic new year which is not so much the most celebratory type of occasion, but it does call for a meal

With community and family, and it’s through that demonstration that we are able to start to explain traditions to people, start to share what it is that we believe and why we believe it. How we celebrate it, also during this time what makes it hard to celebrate.

I think it is really meaningful for our Tweeps to share with their colleagues like yeah, Rosh Hashanah, it really sucked that I couldn’t have a meal with my entire family, but I made this challah bread and it looks so wonderful. We’ve really been prioritizing things like

That and the impact that we’ve seen, is that this conversation around faith is going outside of the borders of just people’s faith, but into the rest of the company as well. That is what we are looking to do more of in the future.

>> DAN: For me, I would, obviously I think what Farah mentioned specifically around the leadership around when those tragedies occur I think has been super uplifting for me. I remember after the Pittsburgh shooting, seeing a text message from the head of HR, Ellyn

Shook at Accenture, when she texted me like, Dan, are you okay? Can you talk? At that point we just ended the Shabbos and I had no clue what was going on. I was wondering, am I going

To get fired. At the end of the day, being able to have that relationship with our leadership and, you know, getting on the phone with the CEO that night and her saying, “I’m going to personally write a note to the community.” I was just shocked and in awe and inspired

By that and it meant a lot. For me, my story would be aligned to something that my friend Elan Kogutt reminded me of recently. One of our first events after that Fiddle on the Roof event was something called Dating, Dining, and Devotion. We had each of our faith leads

Talk about how their faith group relates to romance, food, dietary laws, prayer, and meditation. It was a great event and a packed audience. It was exciting to see how everyone was together. A couple days later, someone came over to me, he was a colleague—he was a project manager,

And he told me a story about how he was leading this team and it was a virtual team. He had one analyst who always went MIA on a Friday afternoon, he had no idea where he was, he

Would IM him, never got a response. All of a sudden, from coming to our event, he heard about the Jumu’ah prayer, and heard about that going on Friday, and had no clue that Muslims pray then. He approached his colleague and he talked about his own faith as an Orthodox

Jewish person and observing the sabbath. It came out that, he was saying that he was also an observant Muslim, and he felt uncomfortable talking about his faith in the workplace. This manager and employee now built this greater bond together where they have this new shared

Understanding with each other. They are able to bring that into this new workplace and have this understanding, this analyst and now they are able to go and have the strength to say, hey, I can talk about this. It’s not something that I need to keep to myself

And just go MIA because you’re scared about who you are. That to me, is one of the most important examples to be talking about, is because throughout everything, if we don’t empower each of you who are listening, to talk about these topics, then we are not going

To be able to have that kind of inclusive environment, people want to see people that look like them, that sound like them and that have similar interactions like them. Whether you are the same faith belief or not from someone else, just the ability for you to

Be able to talk about it, even if you are an atheist, to be able to talk about what you believe in, has been—has opened the eyes of so many different people. So, Paul, over to you for the Q&A.

>> PAUL: All right, we do have some really great questions. I don’t – we’ll – you can each take one or two of them. It started, one of the interesting things that’s coming up in a few questions is training. Like, how are you trained to be an interfaith leader?

Some of you may have trained in higher ed to do this, others of you may not have any training. I am curious because we have someone who is talking about, Matt mentioned, on Facebook, that he is working with college students to develop a set of skills that would help lead

An interfaith, this kind of interfaith effort. He’s curious, like, if you were looking for an employee who would be able to bring this to the workplace, what would be the skill set that they would need? Were each of you trained in this? Did you learn it on the job?

Did you self-teach? Maybe one or two of you could answer this question—anybody feel inspired to take this? >> FARAH: I will take a stab at it; I’ve had zero training. I don’t think training is necessary, I think an open heart is necessary. I think kindness is necessary, right? Like,

What skill set would you bring to a leader, or people that I envision taking over when I retire. It’s just somebody who is empathetic, who’s kind, who’s caring, when they see difference, they don’t just argue with it, they learn to respect it. How do you build

That? You build it through religious literacy training, I would just read up on different traditions, get to know people who are different from you, expand your circles. That’s kind of what I would advise in terms of skill sets. I think, build a kind, soft heart, but I’m

Sure maybe others have had actual training and you can chime in. >> DAN: It’s funny because I feel like if you look at some of the other employee resources groups, like there’s like, if there is a disability group or an LGBT group or an African-American

Group, the question generally isn’t like, oh, what training have you had? It’s a question from a faith perspective of like, other faith is so sensitive that we need to make sure that you have training because you can mess this up. I think to your point Farah, I think

One of the things I always share with people is you just got to try and do something. You sometimes could get so woven into I want to make sure every I is dotted and T is crossed,

But you just got to do something and figure out, how am I going to engage employees? You have to figure out for yourself, how am I as an individual? It’s that introspection that each of us need to have is, how are we going to look at ourselves and say, “you

Know what? These are my experiences and I didn’t think of myself as a leader and I didn’t think of myself as an industry expert, but I have my own expenses and I can bring those to the table.” For me, that was sort of the eye-opening piece for me is not realizing

That it was just a Jewish person who was coming to work, but I was a Jewish person who had experiences that I can now bring light to other people as well. I think that to me was the exciting part. >> PAUL: Becky or Mike, do you feel –

>> BECKY: Likewise, I’ve had no formal training in this space and it’s more of a learning by doing. Some of the best advice that I was given along the journey of starting are two things that hopefully can be key takeaways for our audience. The first is, seek first

To understand. Similar to what Farah was mentioning in terms of an open heart. As you approach these situations where you may be getting into difficult conversations with people whether it’s about faith or otherwise, that is the type of skill set or characteristic that you

Would be looking for as an interfaith leader. Somebody who seeks first to understand and doesn’t just come in with like, “well, this is my approach or my way.” The second thing is, to be a magnet and not a detractor. If your intent is to attract people and be a

Magnet, you are going to approach how you run interfaith very differently than maybe someone who is kind of a “my way or the highway” type of situation. I will say that for myself, I realize I haven’t mentioned that I am a Christian. Everyone else has made

Some reference to that but I’m also of the Christian faith, which is a faith that says that there is one truth, there is one path to heaven. I had some initial internal struggle on this, should do interfaith or separate ERGs, because I’m like, well, am I giving

A platform for the other faiths where people could choose to convert to that faith or something. As I really prayed about that internally, the Holy Spirit led me to a verse in the Bible that talks about that God gave us the right to choose, the free will concept. So, it’s

Not my place—so this is kind of a skill set that I would suggest interfaith leaders have or, if this is something they kind of struggle with is—it’s not my place in an employee resource group to be saying I’m trying to promote a specific faith. The employee

Resource groups are exactly about supporting employees in the workplace. That is something, whether you are in the context of a collegiate world, a scholarly academic world, or otherwise, these types of groups are really about supporting people within their context and not about

Trying to be a church, serve the function of a church, or a mosque or a synagogue. >> PAUL: This is going to be the last question—there was a question about the charter and how you

Rely on it. I would love for each of you to be able to provide us with your charter so that we can send that out if possible to the group tomorrow. The last question I want to end on is, in what way does your work intersect with a broader understanding of how religion

Functions in the workplace? What managers at your company should know in order to provide maximum respect and accommodation for religious people in the workplace. Are you intersecting with managers? What advice would you, if they were to turn to you, what kind of advice would

You suggest for the company as far as a broader sort of approach to supporting religious individuals in the workplace? >> FARAH: I can chime in here really quickly. One thing Faith Force has done, like we haven’t really gone out to create our own faith inclusive training for managers or anything like that,

But what we’ve really done is try plug in with existing training, existing leadership development things, inclusive events and initiatives that are being developed, making sure there is that element of faith identity that is part of it. If we are doing an inclusive promotion,

A trail or something, learning module, one of the examples put a woman in hijab or a put a man in a kippah. Just adding that element so people open their eyes to that type of situation, scenario as a leader that we put into. As a manager, you have people of different

Faith identities, how are you going to manage effectively that type of diversity? There is existing diversity training, there’s existing leadership, fitting in that narrative is something we really push towards, to have that engagement with our leadership. >> PAUL: Who else? >> MIKE: Can I add something as well? >> PAUL: Yes please.

>> MIKE: With Twitter, I feel like there are multiple ways where we tackle this but something I found to be really meaningful with me and my manager is that I’ve actually made my BRG work and involvement a part of my yearly goals as part of my rating. It’s something that,

Because that comes up in our one-on-one all the time and in general, our company does a fantastic job as well of cultivating a culture of allyship. When you are able then, kind of, hold your managers accountable to that and say like, hey, I need you to show up for

Me, I think that goes a long way. Once it becomes visible, it becomes contagious. Then other managers will start doing it. It just will spread through the company and really change things in how you operate as well. Yeah, OKR’s ratings are included in there as possible.

>> DAN: It’s true, most people don’t realize the work that they do sometimes as a passion, right, has so much impacted to their daily life. The people that they are managing are the people you can translate into so many different things. For us, one of the things

That we were lucky enough to have is, you know, we got a sponsorship to have an interfaith summit. We brought together 150 people for half a day training across all levels, from managing director to the analyst, together to be able to bring our own training. This

Is stuff that we really developed on our own. By empowering our employees at all levels to be able to figure out what is the structure of that day and how will we be able to think through that, we were able to build a curriculum ourselves that was able to be shared with

Employees to managers to managing directors and now is being taken to each of the different regions as well. We are trying to bring that same training during some of our connect days to be able to bring our employees to talk about these topics and to continue to bring that awareness together.

>> PAUL: Well, this has been an extremely inspiring hour that has passed very quickly for me. So, I want to again, thank all of our panelists for being so forthcoming and really bringing your whole selves to this conversation, which is actually indicative

Of the way that this work operates. It’s being true, being vulnerable, being authentic to who you are and letting that be a blessing. Each to one of us—each one to the others. So, I feel very blessed by each of you and for all of you who have been with us today,

We will be reaching out soon. Again, thank you again to all of you.

#Interfaith #Groups #Work

The Interfaith Community at Rochester

The Interfaith Chapel is the center for religious and spiritual life on campus for students, faculty and staff. We’ve been doing Interfaith on this campus in this Chapel for forty years and when the Chapel was first built Interfaith was Christian and Jewish and in that forty plus years it’s now a much bigger tent

Thanit was in the beginning. So there’s a lot of diverse stuff going on in here. It’s kind of a hub of activity, religious and spiritual. We currently have ten different religious groups that are affiliated with the chapel. We’ve got Muslim and Jewish

And several Christian and Buddhist and Hindu and we have student groups that are affiliated with the Chapel and a very active one in Interfaith engagement, the Student Association for Interfaith cooperation and they’re the group that pretty much ties together all the other groups and gets them to do

Interfaith programming together. Tonight at the Interfaith Chapel, we are holding an interfaith Thanksgiving banquet with a guest speaker, Chris Stedman, from Yale University. University of Rochester’s Christian Fellowship has been around about twenty seven or twenty eight years at this point. We

Are usually the most diverse ministry on campus and I’d like to say that we have a little slice of heaven here on earth. So what we’re going to do for tonight is hold an informational session for Hajib for a day

Which is an event that’s part of our annual Islam Awareness Week in support of and in solidarity of women on campus who choose to wear the headscarf. Cru has a weekly meeting that meets once a

A week on Thursday night. We want to be a place where we can be real, honest and vulnerable about our lives because we believe a relationship with God is possible through Jesus Christ. We have the Roman Catholic Newman Community and the Protestant Chapel Community. Both of these

Communities have been here on this campus for fifty years. So, the Catholic Newman Community is the largest single denomination on campus. We serve about sixteen hundred Catholics on campus, thirty percent of the population in discovery, faith and reason together. Many people see faith as

Opposed to reason as if it’s an either or option and here on this campus we definitely take this stance that they’re very compatible. PCC is a multi-denominational group of kids from all different Protestant-Christian background, some of them from backgrounds that are not Protestant-Christian who have all come together to worship and

Be at church on campus here. Also like pretty much all faith groups, once you’ve captured the fact that we’re eating, you’ve captured the essential part of our group. We do a lot of food in the chapel. People can get free meals here several nights a

Week with one religious community or another. All religious cultures have special foods and so often they will do things with their something special to a particular tradition that’s being served and others get to sample that and enjoy it to. Having Diwali dinner,

This is a yearly event we usually do around the fall time. It changes every year based on the calendar. We do this usually in Douglas Dining Hall and we’ve been preparing for this ever since the start of school.

Actually, great people, great food. It’s just a good time to celebrate a good event. Happy Hanukah! Happy Hanukah everybody! Tonight, tonight is the first night of Hanukah so there lighting a candle. We brought the lights, the Menorah, which is symbol of freedom.

We are going to have hundreds of students pause in the middle of finals and see what is important to celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah together as a community. I love bringing people of different religious traditions and students of no

Tradition together to find the things that they have in common and the things they value together. It’s important that people, regardless of faith and belief come together and you know take the time to learn about what the other person believes in and I think U of R ‘s

Great for starting that initiative. A production of the University of Rochester. Please visit us online and subscribe to our channel for more videos.

#Interfaith #Community #Rochester

Countering Hate Speech interfaith and intergenerational perspectives

So greetings of peace everyone. Welcome to this panel discussion. Good morning, good evening, good afternoon, depending from where are you joining us today as we have speakers from literally all over the world. Uh it is my great pleasure to welcome all

Of you either who are following us on the live stream on different channels. Uh as I said, this will be the panel discussion under the title countering hate speech interfade and intergenerational perspectives. Uh this is organized as a part of the

Fellowship program. Myself, hello when my colleague Amina Furdak are beside other roles that we are having, we are also fellows. So, as a part of our final Kaisit Fellowship Program, we decide to organize this webinar on the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony

Week and even though World Interfaith Harmony Week is happening at the first week of the February, as we all know, it is, there is plenty of activities organized throughout the month of the February and one of that is today’s panel discussion that we are

Organizing. So, I would just like to shortly introduce all co-organisers of today’s panel discussion. The first one is of course Kaisit International Dialogue Centre, SBI Dare Fellows. So the Kaisit Fellowship Programme brings together leaders and educators from different religious

Backgrounds from all over the world. For training in dialogue facilitation, intercultural communication and promoting social cohesion. Uh and this is all done by by the pool of Kaisid expert. The program equips fellow ops with the skills to educate their students and communities about

Interreligious dialogues so they can become facilitators and leaders in the dialogue and active peace advocates in their communities and we hope that this today’s panel discussion will contribute this aim as well. The second organizer is Youth for Peace which is Youth

Led Organization from Bosnia and Youth for Peace bring young people of diverse, religious, spiritual expression coming from different cultures and tradition backgrounds from all over the Boston Hertz of Govina And this organization is established to promote dialogue, interfaith and

Interactive cooperation to end all kinds of violence and to create culture of peace and justice for youth. A youth for peace is also CC of United Religion Initiative which is our third partner on this webinar. So United Religion initiative is a global

Grassroot interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities and the world. Europe is one of the eight URI regions and I’m very glad to

Say that URIN presence in all in more than 111 countries currently with more than thousand groups called cooperation circles and even for peace is one of them. You can find more more information about all these organization on the links that will be provided

During the livestream. Now I would like to welcome all of our panelists of today’s discussion. We have very nice group of people coming together from all over the world as I said. So welcome again. Thank you very much for making extra

Effort to join us today despite all this time differences and a lot of activities that is happening throughout the month of February. We are really happy that you accepted our invitation And we decide to discuss about this topic of countering aids hate speech

From perspective of interfaith and also intergenerational perspective because we know unfortunately that today’s hate speech is presence all over the world and and especially now when we are using the social media and when we are all present in the online sphere so

Much. So we thought that this will be very important to discuss what can be done in terms of bringing people from different backgrounds together not just in a religious sense but also a different generation. Therefore we would like to hear what our

Distinguished speaker had to say on this topic and I would like to invite Tahil ah Sharma. He is regional coordinator for North America in United Religion Initiative. So Tahil welcome. I will just shortly use him. So, Tahil is an Interfaith activist based in

Los Angeles in United States of America. He was born to Hindu father and a sick mother. Following the Oak Creek shooting of Sikh Temple in 20 12, Tahil become involved in efforts for Interfaith Literacy and Social Justice and he has

Also been doing this very professionally for the past eight or nine years. He also serves as the Los Angeles coordin term for Sathana which is coalition of progressive Hindus and he also serve in various organization in different capacity to educate,

Engage and serve various communities that promote interfaith cooperation and ethic analytical pluralism, a social and and productive norms is society including Interfaith Youth Cord, the Parliament of the World Religion, of course, his role in United Religion Initiative and much more. So I

Think the Tahil is a great person to give us input on the topic that we are discussing today about countering hate speech as a young person, as also in a person who is working quite a lot in Interfaith field. So, Tahil, we are happy

To have you with us today and please floor is yours. Thank you so much, Layla. Good morning, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s such an important time for us to be able to talk about countering hate speech Um mainly because a

Nature of how we address it has been sort of a constant question in the context of many countries in the world but particularly in the United States in a country that professes an idea of the freedom of speech. Um there has

Been a very troubled aspect in approaching this idea of what is acceptable speech and what is not acceptable speech. Um and coming from a space where I work with a lot of religious and spiritual I know that especially in the space of the

United Religions Initiative, the nature of how we engage in this work is centered around creating a space for appreciative inquiry, getting to know people as much as possible, and trying to deepen our understanding of them as making it a process of deeply

Understanding ourselves as people. Um and what happens in this work sometimes can be very challenging because the nature of dialogue in in the context of Interfaith Cooperation especially makes it especially challenging to be able to address differences in a way

That make us really feel like we can really empathize with other people. And sometimes the nature of empathy can be itself very challenging because we like to use the framework of filling in or feeling as if we are in someone else’s shoes. Um

But what happens when you can’t actually fit into those shoes What if those shoes feel uncomfortable? Uh the nature of empathy is actually to go a little more than just trying to make sure that you know the exact person’s experience. You

Don’t need to know their suffering to be able to help them. Um you don’t need to experience their exact suffering to be able to help them either. Um what you do need to understand is the nature of building those powerful bridges between

Communities and individuals. Uh requires us to be able to step into a space of solidarity to step into a space of that appreciative inquiry that allows us to go a lot deeper than we usually do when we’re stepping into spaces that are

Unknown or uncomfortable to us. Um and in the United States for the past several decades the ability of mitigating the the speech that is sort of targeted towards many minority religious and cultural and ethnic communities. Um continues to be a challenge today. Um because

Is in the nature of how we understand even our own United States Constitution that interpretations allow people to understand the nature of the freedom of speech as very different things. Um for me entering this perspective personally speaking, the nature

Of having freedom of speech is essential to the way that we interact with each other but we need to remind people that a speech has consequence, both good and bad. Uh and the nature of the intention and ways that you are expressing the speech

Are essential in how you are able to make or break communities. Um and in my work personally as someone who has been doing interfaith work for just about a decade now. While at the same time being someone that is deeply involved in the

Mission and values of the United Religions Initiative it becomes very clear that when we centre an interfaith narrative or an interfaith foundation to the nature of dialogue. Um we are able actually mitigate hate speech in ways that we haven’t

Been able to see before. Um the nature of this work of standing up for communities that are facing things like anti Semitism and Islamophobia specific examples tend to be pushed by a lot of misinformation, by a lot of conspiracy theories that are

Both historical and new. Um and it it took a lot of Interfaith communities to show up for Muslims and Jews here in the United States to make them feel like they were not alone and to be able to start deeper conversations with them and

Engaging this idea that solidarity looks like a lot more than just seeing you when you’re happy and seeing you when you’re sad. It’s being able to show up and say what do you need and how can we keep this relationship flourishing?

Um so that’s kind of the context I’m bringing in this morning. Um albeit it may not be comparable to others experiences who in the in around the world having interfaith dialogue can be something beautiful but it can also be something that can get

Boring after a while when it is the same people talking about the same things. Uh but there is a a an active role that each of us can play in making sure that we are talking about things that are transformative and being able to improve

Society. So thank you for that this morning Linda. Thank you very much Tail for this very valuable input and I think that you already start this discussion and highlighted some very important thing as you said we definitely need to discuss about empathy but

Beyond just understanding of the empathy but stepping outside of our comfort zone and providing space for dialogue with others and also it is great to hear what is URI doing all over the world especially stepping not just into shoes of

Others but also trying to others when they are attacked and standing there for them. So thank you very much for sending this very important message. Now we would like to go to another young person who is Sahil who is joining us from

The United States early morning. Now we are going in the middle of the night to the Philippines and it is my great pleasure to introduce Ren Zargaro who is coming from different roles that he’s having and a huge biography but

As Tahil is coming from United the Legion Initiate is coming from another very big organization, religion for peace, so I just want to shortly first introduce even it is very hard to introduce him shortly, as he’s quite young person but with impressive and

Huge biography, so Doctor Renz Argao is the president and chief executive officer of Argao Health International. He is a registered psychologist and psychometrician and international also certificate expert in the psychotrauma. He’s one of the handful of Filipinos who hold the status

Of diplomat of the American Academy of Expert in Traumatic Stress and his work as clinical psychologist include over a decade of experience in clinical administration, case management, psychological assessment, psychotherapy, mental health and psycho social support services. He also work

In quite a lot of conflict areas and in addition to his impressive clinical practice, Doctor Renz is also peace activist and he is engaged in a faith-based diplomacy and development work through religion for peace. He is coordinator of the International Youth Committee

Of Religion for Peace which is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition where he also serves as a member of the World Council of Religious Leaders as well as international executive committee and he also has quite impressive academic career and

As you know, he’s holding the PhD diploma and I think that I will stop over here because if I continue it will took half hour to go through all your impressive biography but once again, thank you very much for accepting to be with us today

And we are looking forward to hear your input on this important topic. So, floor is yours. Thank you very much, Leila for that introduction. I can feel that you’re overwhelmed. I I got overwhelmed with, the introduction as well. Um, good

Evening from my side of the world. Uh, from the Philippines. Good morning. Good afternoon to wherever you may be. And ah I’m happy to be joining you in ah this panel and this session that we’re having today. Um it’s very

Important and timely to talk about hate speech and what we can do to counter it especially at this time wherein hate speech is becoming a major threat to peace. Um largely due to the now more connected world that we live in. Of course

Thanks to the internet and our social media platforms. Um the social media platforms and their companies seem to continuously allow the proliferation of various expressions that advocate initiate, promote, or even justify hatred, violence, and discrimination. All over the

World. And all all of this are disguised in the context of the freedom of expression or as he’ll mention the freedom of speech. And true. We have that freedom to express ourselves. But let us not forget that freedom is not absolute. As

Victor Hugo puts it the liberty or the freedom of one citizen ends where the liberty or freedom of another citizen begins. That is your freedom ends where my freedom begins. And hate speech is not mere expression of opinions or of

Your thoughts or your ideas or an exercise of the freedom of speech. It is one that can already step on and one that is violating the fundamental human rights that each of us should be able to enjoy. Ah the European Commission Against

Racism and Intolerance already recognized that there is a dangerous link between hate speech and violence. They add that hate speech possesses grave dangers for the cohesion of a democratic society. The protection of human rights and even the rule of law. Um for

Many of us, we have witnessed this in many circumstances. For us, Asians, for example, many of my fellow Asians have been injured. Worst, some of them have been killed due to anti-Asian expressions, especially when the Covid-19 pandemic started. Um, hate

Speech directed against Asians especially due to misinformation and racism, stigma and stereotypes have caused fear, trauma, and suffering to many Asian communities in the west. Here in my own country in the Philippines, hate speech is already a weapon of choice when

It comes to political propaganda. Um, it was expressions or speeches or even jokes that are filled with stigma that was used to justify the deaths of thousands of people in what called the war on drugs. It was also hate speech that brought emotional

Trauma to those who were even given or receiving death threats. Ah some were being intimidated and some are being wished to be killed, to be sick, or even to be raped. And it is hate speech that continues to divide our people.

And that threatens the very fabric of our own society. And this is not just in the Philippines. This happens in many different parts. Um of the world. Now when we look at it, why is there so much hate speech Well, we can’t just

Blame social media, of course, and the internet. We also have to look at the role of our of our own values and our ethics. Um, for us people of faith, for example, we often look up to our religious leaders, in our religious institutions. To

Guide us, when it comes to fighting hate speech. All of our religions and faith traditions teaches love. And none of these religions, none of our faith traditions teach hate. So when we see hate speech being normalized, we get to wonder why our own values

And principles are leading to this hate speech. Where are our values and principles? Those that make humanity human. In this context that lead us to hating one another or to promote violence against one another. Why are we not reminded or even taught the

Value of respect, human dignity, or even care for the other. Why do some leaders or those who should be guiding us towards what is good? Or those who ignite the flame of hate speech? What are we doing? Or what are we not doing? For the

Youth speech is something that seems so common nowadays and not that I’m saying that it is common for the youth to use hate speech. What I mean is that the youth can read, hear, or encounter hate speech in almost everyday of their lives.

It is on social media. In the mainstream media, in the streets, or in places where we gather. Sadly, I even once heard while I’m in in church. Uh, the thing is, we, the youth, have the potential, and the power to combat hate

Speech. The youth of today is the largest generation of the youth. Um, that is no in the history of human civilization. Today’s generation of youth is also the more connected. Well, that’s a good side of the internet and social media.

Hence, if we use this connectivity to influence positive changes and to counter expressions of violence, hatred, and discrimination, we can affect a shift from hate speech to speech that respects human dignity and human rights. The youth is also more

Motivated and driven by their passion to make this world a better place. We can use this to start conversations that highlight collaboration, common actions, and harmony. We can talk about what peace means and what we can do to achieve it.

We can and discuss our values and ethical principles that can help fill in the gaps that allow hate speech to start and to even grow. More than that, we can start by taking actions like calling out our friends and educating them about the

Impact of hate speech. We can also do so by signing up for others and by being the voice for those who are silenced. I too have seen how young people have fought hate speech. We have a friend in Myanmar that

Started a campaign on what they call as love speech on social media. They respond basically to hate speech with love and care and respect. A friend in India organized learning sessions to talk about the impact of hate speech and the

Danger it brings using sports, using activities that are allowing young children to learn better about values and and ethics. It is possible to bring change. We just have to take that first step towards it. Let us teach empathy. That he’ll mention empathy a while

Ago. As well as understanding. Let’s promote and celebrate diversity and inclusivity. Let us turn back to our faith and values. We also need, of course, to be mindful of our own thoughts which then becomes deeds and words. We all need to

Find the root causes of hate speech and counter or best to address these. Let us advocate for the important balance between ending hate speech while still promoting and of course, protecting the freedom of speech, expression, and belief. We need to hold

Platforms like social media platforms, accountable for hate speech. Report those social media accounts that promote hate speech or those that incite violence. Demand, demand actions from social media platforms and hold their companies accountable. Of course, let us not forget it.

Ah, we need to give support as well for those individuals who are victims and targets of hate speech. We can all do this together only if we work together. This emerging tradition of hate in speech, in actions, has gone a long, long

Time. So let us all choose to be the generation that breaks the habit on behalf of the world and of generations to come. So again, thank you for having me. I hope I was able to share some of insights from

This side of the world and from our generation to all of you. Thank you very much and may peace be upon you all. Thank you very much. I hope that you are okay for me calling you Renzo. We are almost a similar

Age. So Doctor Ergo seems a little bit too special. Great. Uh thank you very much for bringing this insight and for sending this important message and I’m sure that all our listeners on our live stream got really inspired by all

These words that you share and you highlighted same as Dahil very important things because we usually forget that hate speech is not just hate speech somewhere online but this is affecting people in offline and that it can lead to the hate

Crime and of terrible things that you mentioned some of them that are happening but on the other side it’s great to know that young people are are starting these great initiatives that you mentioned some of them and we definitely

Need more love and more peace and less hate and we hope that this webinar will contribute into bringing a little bit more more positive stories into this space where there is too many too much hate present everyday so thank you once again and I’m

Looking forward to our question and answer discussion because I’m sure that there will be some question in the line with all these great initiative that you mentioned and now we are moving to if I may say a little bit older generation because as

We said this is intergenerational approach. So more wisdom that we are looking forward to hear from our dear Sally. Sally welcome and thank you again really much for accepting our invitation to join us today as you are really inspirational for a lot of us

In URI but I’m sure beyond URI as well. So I will just try to shortly introduce you even it will be very hard to short introduce. So Sally Mahe is senior consultant and she’s a founding staff person at United Religion Initiative so this

Great organization that I present at the beginning. She held her has held senior staff position for over 20 years. And Sally formerly served as URI, director of organization development and director of global programs as well in United Religion Initiative Sheberg primarily with regional

Staff across the world. and a senior consultant right now, Sally is on call for consultation and makes career high values, practices, and in-depth organizational wisdom available to DRI community globally. Uh Celia also co-authored the birth of the global community in 2003 and

Another book is the great greater democracy day today, day by day. Sally also hold master’s degree from Harvard and she lives currently in the Bay Area with her family. Uh she maintains the every voices which I highly recommend all of

You to take a look at the URI website as there is plenty of inspiring stories from URI community all over the world and there she writes about the variety ways URI cooperation circles or member groups all over the world give voices to

The URI and also contribute to it to its success so thank you Sally for as I said founding URI and being inspirational person as you are and really looking forward to hear your on today’s topic so floor is yours. Oh. Well, thank you so

Much, Layla. I so much appreciate your enthusiasm and it’s like receiving a flow of just earnest desire to do good and to be together at this moment and again, I appreciate the fact that we get to have this conversation. It’s so

Important even though we think we know about it to be engaged with ideas, with perspectives that really matter. And really matters. I want to begin with the sentence to ignore injustice, hurts. I heard that a few days ago and it stopped

Me in my tracks to ignore injustice, hurts, And they made me feel really for in a new way the emotional connection between hate speech and our intrinsic need as human beings for justice. So we all maybe have experienced this topic from many perspectives. But

It’s important I think and I’m happy we get to talk about it here. We get to raise up these feelings and these issues here. Cuz hate speech in all its forms isn’t justice. Hateful words or prejudice, making assumptions, ignoring, propaganda. They’re not just

Bad behavior. But they violate justice. And they hurt us as individuals and our societies. So to allow micro or macro expressions of hate speech to proliferate. Without confronting them. It rips in our souls. And it it degrades a nation. It’s not just bad

Behavior I think, but it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous habits. It’s dangerous patterns that deeply hurt people and society. So, we are called to confront our own interactions with hate speech. It requires introspection and personal choice. So, what do we do? When

We maybe are confronted that we’re helping to perpetrate it. What do we do when we witness it? What do we do? When we’re victim So some choices are we can just let an incident go by kind of minimize its impact Uh we can

Remain fixed in a perspective and just unaware of of assumptions we might hold. We can choose to let our own victimized feelings fester and get buried inside of us. We can choose to continue to spread the stories of the bad ways

We’ve been treated by retelling these stories of mistreatment over and over. Now, a personal experience with that. My daughter converted to Islam many years ago and I have a Muslim, in-law family, and three grand kids and we were out on the sidewalks. Oh,

Again, maybe three, three, or four years ago and yeah, here are my, me and my daughter and little grandsons and People hurled some hate language towards us. As Muslims because she was wearing a hijab. So I had a choice then. And I I

Often fell down. I would I just kept telling. Oh do you know what happened to my daughter? Do you know what happened to us? Do you know what happened? I kept repeating and repeating. A very ugly incident. Yes it was emotional. But that made me

Realize that I forgot to say multitude kind, generous, protective, solidarity acts that they also experienced. So again, the choice of what we choose to amplify, what we choose to carry on is really ours to make. So, another choice, choices that I think

Tahil and Rent have spoken to. Is it we can be open to learn. There’s a lot of learning that’s that’s available to us now. We can be trying to recognize our own undiscovered prejudice within ourselves We can become, learn more about

Becoming empathetic. I like to call it listening ears but we’re really listening hearts. For people who we know are feeling afraid or feeling victimized by hate speech. We can practice and it usually takes practice to speak up against hate speech, especially

When it’s directed at us. to take courage, to intervene when we witness this. So I think each of these choices involve usually new behaviors. For us and for organizations. So whether we’re unaware of perpetrators or angry or hurt victims, letting these kinds of

Experiences go by unattended. Believe it eats away at our insides. And it infects our environment. So again to ignore injustice hurts. As people have said here, the bad news is that hate speech in myriad forms is on the rise. It’s fueled as you

All have said, social media, migration, insecurity from climate change, economic insecurity and injustice and unrelenting change. But the good news is that this is kind of entrenched behavior of hate speech which has been with us for a long time. It’s coming

Out of the shadows. It’s demanding our attention. I did just a brief Google search before this to prepare for this call. And it turned up many different kinds of training programs and how to understand it, combat it much of what was spoken here. I’ve

Learned a new term which you may know called counter speech. So, there’s trainings now in counter speech which is ways to present alternative narratives rather than censorship of offending speech. Counter speech is a direct response to hateful or harmful speech which seeks to

Undermine it. So there are, as you know, there’s lots of good training programs, so I encourage all the people listening, to go online, and to look for them. So, I was asked to speak from an intergenerational perspective Um, and I think Layla and Amina

Invited me in part because I was involved in an intergenerational project, hosted by URI, a few years ago. So our of this project was to launch, you might say, a counter movement We wanted to create new ways for elders and youth

To interact We wanted to just practice behaviors that would replace traditional attitudes and assumptions. With meaningful listening, a new ways of cooperating and standing with each other. So, our purpose statement, I think is still relevant. It says, our purpose is to establish

And intentional international community of millennials and elders of different backgrounds to explore dialogue, relationship building, and cooperation between these generations. Our aim is to be a learning laboratory where we learn from each other. By honestly addressing the issues our different generations face.

Now this project didn’t take off. Um but I its main intent is valid here at this time. So, again, it goes to something really at the core in us. Whether forms of bigotry happen among elders or youth, different people of diverse religions, classes,

Races. I believe what doesn’t change is people’s basic need for people for we each need to be seen. We each need to be heard. We each need to be understood. So People, I don’t think need to be agreed with as much as we

Need to be visible. To be given dignity for who we are. And I think most of us have experienced what it feels like to be misunderstood, rendered invisible, or without value. Uh, most of us hold onto these bitter feelings. And when we’ve

Had our own words ignored, or have been made invisible by another person, or a cultural mindset. The and the diminishment lurks inside of us. It was that long ago, I think two years ago now, maybe last year, I participated in a URI

Panel yet led by young adults regarding the role of youth leaders in the Interfaith Movement. And I remembered, I took notes, and I heard these speakers express anger at being stereotyped, or assumed to be people who are good at computers, yet the young people

To help us with the internet. And I feel as well. I heard the pain inside of the young people who say, well, we’re we’ve been used as tokens by our organizations. They want young people to show up for them but

They don’t really give us responsibility and authority. And I heard frustration about misguided compliments. Oh, the youth, the young people. We are relying on them at this time. We we need them so much. But they still are denied actual roles and responsibilities and

Important decision making. So, these are hard feelings to take but again, in this situation, the good news is that the results of lifting up those different feelings and experience actually was incentive to produce a book and it’s called the toolkit for

Meaningful youth participation. When I’m finished, I’ll put it in the chat box. It just came to me yesterday, hot off the presses and it’s quite practical in bringing up the very issues that I spoke of and offering perspective, offering alternatives. Well,

What can we do when we feel this way? Um so, that’s a very good homemade kind of resource that did come out of a group of young adults who are all part of the URA network. And it’s yeah a lot of practical situations. So

Wherever we encounter it, hate speech, I think and it’s dramatic and it’s subtle expressions. It won’t. It’s not going to go away anytime soon. So, I encourage that each of us make it a priority for ourselves and within our organization To acknowledge it

Is here with us and to humbly but actively learn better ways to listen and to treat one another. I wanted to close with two practical points. What we’re involved in is personal. It’s not out there. It really connects with most of our own

Experiences. And what we elders learned in school and in university. We learned over 40 and 50 years ago. The world has changed. We do have wisdom from life experience. But we don’t understand well the world as it is now. So elders need the

Knowledge and leadership of youth to meet today’s issues. Many elders have learned resilience, have learned perspective that’s can be removed and a bit distanced which is helpful And wisdom. But youth and elders need to listen to each other. And give

Elders a chance to offer offer assurance often encouragement and offer courage. So confronting hate speech is also political. I think both Tahil and Rentz mentioned it. As autocracies gain power across the world and use hate speech, propaganda to secure power. All

People are called to stand up for core democratic values. That demand respectful listening. And the inclusion of all voices. We’re called to create all of us are called to create safe spaces. For diverse to come together And raise their voices and be listened to

And make decisions that affect their lives. So it’s it’s the impact lunch deep. Combating hate speech is about standing for justice. And it’s about upholding values. At the heart of democracy. Every day we make choices about how we interact with other people. Important

Choices that can be overlooked as being trivial. But these choices define us. There are statements of who we choose to be in this lifetime And what impact we will have. On the ones close to us and our nations and the whole world. So

Thank you so much for this opportunity to offer some thoughts about this really crucial topic. Well thank you very much. I I listen to you in different occasions but always somehow you managed to impress me by all the level of the wisdom and

The words that you are sharing with us so I’m I’m really glad that you accepted invitation to join us and thank you very much for sharing all these important things that I hope will inspire all our audience to take the

Action as you said and yes you highlighted some very important things we all need fight especially in justice and this is something that is hurting all of us and I’m glad that managed to bring together a Legion for Peace and United

Legion initiative which is their core values are having desire to create peace, to create peace in the world, where there will be more justice and peace and healing for the whole human beings. So I’m really happy that they managed to bring these younger

People and wisdom from the older generation that we speak today and also thank you very much Sally for all these practical things that you share with us because I think that we all need to take action idea of this webinar and panel

Discussion is not just to share our ideas and thoughts but to motivate our audience and ourselves as well to do something after this webinar. At least maybe to letting some of our stereotypes and prejudice that we may have and

Next time when we set in our computer or meet somebody else on the street maybe to think twice how we will approach this human beings and what we will share with them. So thank you once again and you also mentioned something very

Important. This practical toolkit that we will share a link to it and I’m really happy that URI produce something like that that we will be able to share it with others but you also mentioned in a few times that hate speech should have

Alternative and counter narratives that hate that we should fight with hate speech not just by ignoring it but we need to bring some extra values and I’m so happy that my colleague Amina is is with me here today and even though we

Will now move to the Q&A section before that I would like floors to her because we were also part of the project called Alter Hate. Which was the project bringed by you know organised by young people from Religious for Peace Europe. And

Idea was to provide alternative alternatives to the hate speech. So I mean I think that this is the right place right now to share a few information about that. Before we move to next session of our webinar. So thank you Sally once again and

Amina Flores yours. Thank you Layla. Thank you very much. Um I will try to share a few words about the outer heat which is what the campaign that we had the opportunity to do in the Western Balkan specifically Um we were concentrating on

Serbia, Albania, and Bosnia, Herzegovina. But also it’s really important to say it’s a a part of the larger platform called speech for change which is a platform within religious for peace. And more precisely we were doing it inside the framework of European

Interfaith Youth Network of Religions for Peace. But one of the one of the very, let’s say, immediate results that we had and that we actually did last year on the occasion on the World Interfaith Harmony Week. We’re actually two important

Things. It was again one webinar. We already talked about the interface perspectives and interfaith importance of countering hate speech to let’s say bringing a better Interfaith Corporation. But very important and very dear to me. Output is that we try to root our alternate

Response in the interfaith. And we decided to create a post where we decided to you know just dig into different religious traditions. And we found 11 different religious traditions and again I want to say that there are many more spiritual directions,

Traditions that were not a part of our poster because again we were working also with limited resources, limited time, limited number of people who could work on this poster and it took us a lot of time to actually come up with this

Poster and to find quotes and verses inside religious traditions, inter religious scriptures and inside just oral traditions of the of different religious traditions and create this poster where we that we actually symbolically called no hate speech rule poster. And we

Found in those 11 different traditions we found quotes that are supporting good speech, that are supporting supporting positive speech. Speech that is actually encouraging people to listen to each other not to use harsh words as be and and also sometimes those were there were

Some quotes that are basically somehow prohibiting people to use harsh words to hate each other and to use words that are going to do harm to those to whom we are speaking. So I will just briefly share with you

This poster. Uh some of you had the opportunity to to see it already. The post is already available on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and it’s completely free for use because we had some inquiries from people. Is it okay that they

Use it? That they promote that they you know put it in their classrooms even. So for me this is like really important output and really important, it’s here, it’s really important to hear from people, their reactions, and their wish

Actually to use this as a learning material. So I’m just sharing this very briefly with you. Um, and probably you, you will see it, so just tell me, give me a thumbs up when you can see the poster, and as you

Can see, we decided to, dig in, let’s go in into Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, the high fate, Jainism, Hinduism, Confertianism, Islam, Zorastrianism, Tao and Christianity. And of course, as I said there are many other spiritual thoughts, many other traditions that we did not

Manage to include, but we invited people to send us also the, the quote. So, maybe we will have another version of the poster, maybe we will have no hit pitch rule number two, or maybe we’ll have something like more comprehensive, and

Added with other religious traditions, but, I just wanted to to share this as one of the ways how we as young people wanted to react to hate speech. How we as young people wanted to root ourselves in the interfaith and you know show

That that religion you know is a source of of positivity, is a source for peace, not just for violence because unfortunately in media we mostly see how religion is being manipulated and used for not so nice actions. So we we decided to

Show something different, something alternative. And that’s how this hate no hate speech roll poster was actually born and I do hope that you like them, you like it, and I do hope that also our viewers will be able to see the poster

And will be able to you know, get something out of it but you can definitely find it on our alter heat Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as I said. So, Layla, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this

With you as well. Uh and thank you to you panelist for your amazing inputs. I have to say Layla that all the three speeches were so powerful. I really You know, I found myself asking like, you know, where were all these people? I mean,

We were doing campaigns, you know? Where were all those inputs? Because you know, you really touched my heart. I’m not saying this just because you know, you are our panelist, but you really spoke from your hearts, and this is important

Because you understand, and you see when people are speaking from their hearts. And it’s really touched me because, you know, you spoke about hate speech and about the real problem without like, you know, I don’t know, citing different like definitions, citing you

Know, you can do this, you can do that, you know, because you’re really speaking about practical and very important things that we need to consider where we are countering hate speech and I really hope that our viewers actually could

Sense this. Uh I was really moved by also personal experiences that you decided to share with us because those personal experiences, I think it, they have to be much more present in the media, much more present, on social media, much

More present in the public, that people actually see how people, you know, react to hate speech and what hate speech can do to people because a lot of times I spoke I spoke I spoke to to different you know especially to young people and

They, they say, you know, sometimes, you know, it’s just words, it’s hate speech, maybe it’s not going to harm anybody, you know, we were just joking, etcetera, etcetera and then like, it’s not a joke. Because at some point, this hate speech

Can lead to hate crimes unfortunately. Luckily, most of the hate speech is not that dangerous, but we never, we can never know, you know, who can be listening and who can actually take seriously what we just said. And and act upon

That. And we we saw that many times you know with the public persons who were spreading hate speech. They were just thinking okay I’m saying something because I it’s my freedom of speech. And then actually somebody takes that very very

Seriously and acts upon it. But again thank you for your inputs. Um I had a lot of questions roaming around my mind. When you were speaking that I would actually try to address to each of you one of the questions that came to my

Mind that I would like to learn more. That I will also give to lay life. She wants to say something. Uh but I would like to start with Tahil because he spoke the first and I’m just going to follow the order. And

Tahil I know that a few days ago you moderated one event that was again dealing with hate speech. It was called the power of words to say or not to say. And you had also three amazing panelists. I know that

Because I was part of the event so I had the opportunity to listen to those people but I would like to ask you just to with us few highlights from this event. Just few highlights, you know, few important messages that you

Actually found in this event. So, Tahil the floor is yours, please. Thank you so much Amina. Um thank you for the plug for our last event. It’s nice to be able to be able to share some of the highlights from that space because I think

You know we often times do not consider the role of how we use our very own languages in the nature of addressing hate speech itself. Because we always look at hate speech from the frame of this is specific language that we’re using

Against a specific community that is targeted. But sometimes what actually happens is both historically and traditional we note that there are of terms and phrases that are picked up by our own mother tongues that are actually rooted in injustice, that are rooted in

The oppression of certain communities. Um especially from the context of looking at the lens of anti-blackness, many communities around the world use words and phrases to be able to describe people of African descent or of darker skin colors as people who are

Inferior in society. Um one of the major things that actually came out of our conversations with folks from a couple of days ago was the fact that the nature of challenging this means being able to step up our ability to be able to stand in

The way of using this language. When it comes to people using this language very naturally, they don’t assume that they’re going to be challenged and we don’t think about how certain words and phrases have a certain etymology or origin

That allow them to to you know prosper in certain communities. So, it is up to us in a lot of ways to be able to step in and say, you know, I think you should consider using another term or phrase that allows a

Person or a community to feel humanized. A good example that came up was of a colleague of ours by the name of Firaz. Um who was speaking to his friend from Saudi Arabia. Um I don’t remember the term exactly but when it came to referring

People of African descent, particularly Um the term that the Saudi colleague of his used to describe them is translated to the word slave. And the person used it so naturally in conversation that Firaz got taken aback and said I’m sorry

Are am I hearing this word correctly? Are you referring to this person by this term? The person said yeah it’s just been a part of conversation so like what other term do I have? And Firaz took the initiative to be

Able to say actually you could just call person by their skip color or you could just call them by their name rather than demeaning them in the way by using such a derogatory term. And often times we don’t feel comfortable in being able to

Step in to be able to interrupt or try to cause discomfort when it comes to these kinds of things. Um but a major point that I actually brought up is how do you stand up for people? Or a community when they’re not

In the room? And what Firaz did was one of the key ways that you’re able to do that. When you know that someone is using certain derogatory terms and they sometimes use it only because they’re in the safety of one of their own

Communities. It’s up to us as allies and accomplices for justice to be able to step in and say, no, that is not the right thing to do. You should not be doing that. Um because it takes a lot of effort from,

You know, folks who are learning about communities who are showing solidarity to be able to do so when spaces do not have the representation necessary for folks to be able to intervene and say no this is not the language you should be

Using. Um it would also became very clear is that the nature of using language itself can pose a lot of different challenges. Um one of our colleagues on the panel by the name of Izzy had spoken about his journey in getting to study

Hebrews specifically. Um and when he was asked about you know what he does for a living, what he does for his studies and he had mentioned that he studies Hebrew, someone explicitly asked him, why are you studying the language of

The enemy? In other instances, one of our colleagues, Sibu, who, you know, is a polyglot in her own right, has studied numerous languages, decided to go to China and was using Mandarin Chinese with people, and was abused by people who

Thought she was of a different ethnic origin, but was still able to speak Mandarin Chinese. Mind you, she is not Chinese in origin in any way. She comes from a Costa Rican and a Polish background. But her ability and her interest in studying

Chinese brought her into a space and because she looked different and was speaking the language of the people that people were disrespecting her. So the nature of hate speech is very complicated. It is rooted in so many different forms of

Injustice. It doesn’t look the same everywhere you go. Hate speech can be directed at you. You can espouse speech that is a culturally a part of community or you can just talk and hate can be thrown towards at you for using speech. Um so

The nature of being able to combat all of those things is rooted in us being able to speak up and to stand up for what is right in the face of any of those challenges. And I think it becomes even more

Clear that in the nature of addressing that we do have to learn about the nuance of where language is used and how it’s being used. Uh because often times we don’t know the roots of why language is the way that

It is. Um much of it can be rooted to you know colonialism and the ability of those who have conquered various countries within Asia and Africa to be able to hold onto language mainly because of languages like English and

French that sort of pass on from generation to generation. And many other times through observation of what the community sort of examine and express. You’re able to also determine that there has been you know connotations that are intentionally negative towards

Specific communities that have developed over time So, this is both a historical challenge to the status quo and both the modern challenge to the status quo when we are trying to counter hate speech. Thank you very much Tahal for

This input Tanya. It is very interesting Respective when you are when we can discuss about language itself. Being the root causes of the hate speech. So thank you for bringing this dimension and I want to use this opportunity to invite all

Our people who are following us right now and watching this live stream to go to your Facebook account and account of the organization who coordinated the seminar yesterday and take a look as it was really interesting discuss and a lot of inputs that relate

To the to today’s topic as well. Uh now I want to as this presenter on the TV say like we have interruption in the program I would like now to bring us back to our speakers. So Doctor Lakshmi welcome. Uh

We hope that you manage to find the space to join us. We understand what we are organising events in different time zones than it can be really confusing. As we said at the beginning. Some of us are coming in the early morning,

Afternoon, evening, so we are glad that you managed to join us. And of we’ll be more than happy to hear your input to this topic as well. So far we have our three amazing speakers, the inputs and we start with the question and

Answer but we will now give floor to you to share to give your inputs on this topic in like five to 10 minutes and then we can continue with the question but before we give Lord to you I would like to

Shortly to introduce you as well. You also have impressive biographies like all our other panelists so I will try just shortly to give some glimpse of of your incredible and I’m sure that our followers will be able to read more about it. So

Doctor Lakshmi Viyas dedicates a lot of her time for charitable organization and her main objective is to unite the Hindus of Europe under one umbrella. Hindu forum of Europe. She coordinate recently celebrated Diwali in European Parliament that was held last

Year on the 9th of November which bring together attendance of members of European Parliament, High Commissioners, NGOs, spiritual organization, non-political communities, from UK and all over the Europe. Uh she also coordinates the UK census on their consultation and being a standing advisory

Council on religion education. Doctor Lakshmi is also well versed in Hinduism and has clear view of immigration and in an integration as the head of quality and she also works with you with people and learners from all walk of life.

She also had quite impressive academic career with writing different of books and publications so we are really happy to have you with us here today and I would like to give you floor, to give your inputs on important topic that we are

Discussing. So, Doctor Lakshmi Floor is yours. it please unmute yourself. nice, thank you very much Eliza for that wonderful introduction. Um I was wondering, I mean, are we starting the meeting or are we going to start it at at five

O’clock? Yes, so the meeting already started. We are in the middle of the meeting already one hour. So, you were a little bit late. It’s probably there were confusion by the time zones. So, our speaker already gave their input. We started

With Q&A session but we will now give floor to you and continue with the Q&A. And and that I joined late. No problem I have confusion. It was the time confusion. I am very sorry about that. No problem. We are

Happy to have you with us. So please floor is yours. Yeah, hate speech and countering hate speech is one of the biggest problem for leaders And of course, people who may run the organization, different organizations. It’s it’s a nightmare sometimes. So, it is

A hateful hate speech is a form of expression through which intent to vilify, humiliate or incite hatred against a group of people. I mean all these things everybody must have spoken. So I’m not going over it again. Ah I would like to

Say that technology has made it a lot easier for ah all all of us to share ideas and information. Seek advice and much more. And while most of this interaction is kind and respectful. There are those who use it to demean, insult, bully

And abuse. Hate speech, by and large is dangerous and may to low esteem, depression, isolation, anger, anti-social and self destructive behaviours. So, ah generally we as leaders have to provide the right direction to parents and educators seeking to prevent

Children under their care from experiencing or engaging in hate speech. As well as dealing with it in healthy ways when they encounter it. But it’s not just for a caregivers, hate speech can affect people of any age. Including adults which is why

We need to curb and allow it to happen at the same time, punish the perpetrators. Here I, I’ll give you two live examples of ah what happened in the past one or two years ah, of ah, ah, hate speech, ah, and, and, and,

And their true incidences and we, may be all of you may be familiar with it also. The first is the Oxford university incidents where ah Rashmi Samant a small town girl from Karnataka was all excited about being elected. The first

Indian women to be the president of the prestigious Oxford University Students Union. Rashmi Samant who ran her campaign on decolonization and inclusivity platform won the elections. She made the headlines in India and across the world all major Indian and diaspora

News outlets proudly covered the news. Two days later, however, it all fell apart. Samantha had to resign amid allegations of racism, anti Semitism and transphobia. A few days later, Samant quit Oxford and was on her flight back to India after being bullied,

Threatened and abused with hate speeches. For being Hindu. Leading the charge against Samantha, a staff member who still works in Oxford University and he goes scot free. When all the trauma was faced by Samant, who attributed all this to cyber

Bullying, hate speech, against Hindu student. Ah I mean this is the story and finally I think ah ah Rashmi Samant has come back and she has been reinstated ah but ah the staff who actually initiated all this, he is still

There, he is not moved out. Ah this is what happened in Oxford University. And I mean it was widely publicised by BBC and other newspapers. The second issue again ah an Hindu ah harassment by ah for a by not by Hindu. For the Hindu

Students. Ah this this is in ah New Jersey ah university Audre was the faculty member who is the main person who was ah instigating the Hindu students when traumatic. So, what happened was the the Yuva Student Union of the Regulus

University they ah they all Truscare had tweeted that Mata Sita in Valmiki’s Ramayana basically tells Bhagwan Rama that he is a misogynist pig and unkuth. I mean these are all ah worded from whatever it it came through. Nothing is cooked by

Me. She tweeted an announcement of her extremely provocative ah new course ah history of South Asia, Modi to Moguls. And also she suggested that Bhagwan Lakshmana was lusting did not allow the festival of Holi to happen in the she tried

To block the campus event on Kashmiri Hindus. Where the film maker Vivek Agnimoti was the main speaker. Ah the students were shocked and crestfallen when they found out that the animal administration did not only support Trust Gate but also childed students and other

Attacks on Tuskegee and her academic freedom. Trust K is full of hate and demean Hindus openly and was suing hate and hate speeches against Hindus. She also instigated Hindu students to join her and try to achieve her end through them. She was openly abusing

The Hindu Gods. The sad news is the university authorities did not take any action against her. The students were forced to go in in groups and came around with copied of copies of trust case social media posts. In their present to the university

Administration. They demonstrated how Truscare had repeatedly and consciously mocked Hindu deities, misrepresented the rivered ancient texts such as Ramayana and Mahabhata. Ah and tried to whitewash ah other historical atrocities in the Indian subcontinent. Finally ah after several ah rounds of

Presentation the ah the university bosses apologized. But trust K goes ahead with her agenda. She is still free. So hate speech is something which happens on all around. It’s a very very difficult scenario to tackle individually. So ah we can

Counter counter it very intelligently and very politely. So ah some of the points ah how can we counter the speech? Or the trolls. So challenge the message. Never the person who spread it. This is very important. Secondly, use facts and data to call out

Generalization and inaccuracies. I would also add here, display the harm of hate speech by showing a different perspective. Politely. And be polite in your reply. Don’t become abusive yourself. sorry The biggest source for source of hateful comments on the

Internet is trolls. A troll is a profile intentionally created to spread controversial or off topic content and provoke inflammatory responses while remaining anonymous. So, once again we need not keep quiet about it. Um if if you are not

Scared, if you are not ah ah afraid of anything, you can counter ah counter them. So what ah some things which you need to remember is we need to recognize them first. Here are some points which you can follow. Their

Name is usually non descriptive. The the one who trolls and or even just series of numbers. Remember, trolls always aim to remain anonymous. Secondly, not setting a profile picture. They generally don’t do that. So, that makes them suspicious. The same applies if

They use famous person’s image or a stock foot Next, look at their followers. How many do they have? Are they trolls themselves? And lastly, now look at their account behavior. Most of them, their activity is very irregular and repetitive. So, once you

Identify the trolls, don’t give them the recognition they search for. When you see their provocative comments on social media, the best thing to do is probably ignore them. Never feed the roles. If you have, if you are a victim of hate speech

Or online shaming, it might be better to mute your account that is provocating you and harming you when you recognize the troll, immediately block and report it. So, you have to learn how to respond to the Facebook et cetera et cetera.

And it is better that you know you work in a group rather than in single. Let let your friends also join you in replying to such ah notes. And look after yourself very carefully. So these are some of the words

Would like to ah suggest to people to counter hack. At the same time ah there is too much of politics in all our rules and regulations. It is sometimes very difficult to keep a watch on all the atrocities that happen in the

Social media ah television and news media. Each country has to monitor its own social media and remove the apps in all those mobiles and ah cell phones who deal with abuses. Ah I feel the media is also paid to do ah hate speech. And

Generally hate speech weakens and destroys communities. Sowing seeds of fear, hatred and distrust. Ah when left unchecked it can lead to violence and even genocide. So ah when I am talking about the Hindus ah Hindus all around the world are generally soft

Spoken, a God fearing and they believe in their scriptures. Ah the term it means ah respect to all the religions and follow the paths accordingly and do what is right and fair. We I will ah in conclude with this statement that we have all we

We have and will always remain committed we as Hindus we will always remain committed to our guiding principle of Vasudaiva Kudumpakam that is the whole world is one family Means the whole world is one family. The diverse of the Hinduism is

Uniquely beautiful and the principle of meaning leading those benighted by ignorance to the light through equation and genuine mutual learning. Thank you. Great. Thank you very much for this reminder about hate speech and how we can react and on all

These concrete examples that you share even though some of them are very painful but I think that it’s very important to highlight them and to discuss about them. So, thank you Doctor Lakshmi for joining us. We are glad to have you

With us and you definitely contribute with your speech and especially highlighting from your Hindu perspective which is highly appreciated and now we have about 15 more minutes left so I will now give Floor back to Amina because she mentioned

That she has some more question for other panelists and the time is really running when you have this nice discussion but Tamina Floor is yours and let’s discuss about few more things that were on your mind. Thank you, Layla. Thank you very

Much. Um and as you said like I really had a lot of questions that I wanted to ask our panelists. And my second question will go to the corner of Friends because we know that rents as a psychologist. He

Works a lot with people on on mental health. And mental health is also connected to hate speech at some point. So I wanted to ask you how does hate speech actually affect our mental health? But both of those who are you know target

Of the hate speech but also of those who are perpetrating hate speech. I think in conversations about hate speech, we tend to discredit people who are perpetrating it. We don’t speak about it. So, how does, you know, all of that

Hatred that we try to perpetrate also affects us and what we can do about it. I know a question is probably too wide and you could pick hours about it but please give us some of your thoughts about it. Thank

You. Let me try to to do that in a few minutes so you can ask the other questions that you have. Um The effect first on those who are targets or victims of hate speech. Um since hate speech incites violence, it incites

Discrimination in in in hatred towards a certain individual. That person experiences severe threats. Um and varying degrees. And this threat becomes not just a threat to their lives but also a threat to their dignities. Now when each of us are facing threats

That causes us significant amount of stress. Um and worst part of that would be what we call traumatic stress or trauma in in simple terms. And whenever we are traumatized that causes negative impacts in the way that we think, the way

That we feel, and the way that we relate with other people. Um, some of our panelists mentioned that, hate speech has caused depression, suicide is actually the second leading cause of death among young people all over the world. Um,

It’s not even, I, actually now, it’s the leading cause of that. And a lot of that come, comes from hate speech as well. Because, it it removes your sense of humanity. It pulls down your self-esteem. And of course you’re afraid for your

Life. So it it causes you to hide in fear. So it causes many of these negative impacts on an individual that often leads to many long term complications in their emotional and psychological well-being. Now we do not usually talk about perpetrators of hate speech.

But when we try to understand where all that hatred is coming from we also need to look at the cycle of violence and the cycle of hatred that exists. Uh are theories that explain that someone who might be bullying or abusive of someone else

Themselves may have experienced a form of abuse or violence or bullying. So the human mind basically learns what it observes. So if you as a young child for example grows up in an environment that fosters violence, hatred, and all of

These things. You learned that that’s the normal way of doing things. So if you grow up in a household where your parents for example throws violent curses with one another. They disrespect one another. You learn that that is the way to

Deal with other people. And it it continues. Okay? For you you become a victim of it. You start victimizing other people. Those you victimize will start victimizing other people. So it’s a never ending cycle that perpetuates violence and

Hatred. So when we look at that perspective as much as we would like to say that we condemn those who are doing hate speech. If we ourselves condemn them then what makes us different from them, right? If they’re doing hate speech and

You respond with hate speech we’ll never achieve the goal of ending hate speech. That’s why we respond with love. We respond with understanding, with empathy, with care. All of this because we try to understand that this human being is starting to promote

Hate because they may be hurt. In in my practice as a clinical psychologist, we often say that hurt people hurt people. So, maybe try to understand where they’re coming from. And then understand that pain Give them love. Give them care, empathy,

And understanding. Maybe that way we can help them change the way they do things. I hope I answered your question. I mean it’s quite a short time but I hope I was able to explain that. Thank you very much friends. As as you said it’s

Very short time but this is coming from you as as somebody who’s working a lot with people with you know a mental health I’m sure that our viewers now will you know take this into account because as you said, it’s always easy to just start

Judging and it’s always easy to just start, you know, somehow pushing back, but instead of trying to put yourselves in the, a style set, sometimes the shoes are not always easy to put ourselves in, and it’s not always easy to understand, but

Anyways, thank you very much, and I think you provided very, very clear, very concise answer in such a short time, and, I really appreciate it. Uh, and third question will go to the Sally’s corner because I would like to ask you a bit more

Because you you were mentioning a lot intergenerational cooperation and you were mentioning a lot what you were doing in URI but can you tell us how effectively we can actually you know foster and and go forward with this intergenerational approach. How

We can meaningfully include young people because you were mentioning precisely that you know unfortunately you put young people in people very often feel as talk of and somebody just to brag about them. We have them. Uh so what what would be yours let’s say

Some kind of advices or tips and tricks for for all of us working in this especially in the interfaith spaces because I think these spaces are super important and it’s very very important that we connect those on the seniors with the with

The younger ones and and you know provide the space for for exchange. Um and we are already exchanging on an interfaith basis but what about this generational one. Thank you. Again, not so much time to answer but please, the floor is

Yours. Yeah. well, thank you, Amina. It is so much easier to talk about it than to do it and to make the changes. Um I’ll just say a few things when we were doing that project. One elder gentleman in my age

Group, he said, you know, I humbly, he was humble and open and he said, I really don’t understand the challenges that the twenty Five year olds are facing. I’m curious. I really want to know. So for elders check your curiosity. Do you really want

To know what’s inside a person who’s in their 20s or in their 30s right now. What’s going on? What their their fears are. What their hopes are. So that struck me as something that isn’t about a manual. It’s just about giving true curiosity Um

I what Elder the other thought that we did and I think it was Tahil. This appreciative inquiry, this way of creating a condition where you really are asking each other questions. In that same manner, about who, you know, who you are and what

You, where you have been your best in your life, on both sides. So, within an organization, for instance, we think we can just sort of notice it and then, it’ll kind of get better. But I don’t think so. I think you have to

Make it a priority and and bring people of different age groups in this case into these kinds of conversations where they are asked to tell each other about their stories, about their life issues, and then be listened to. Um this

Book, this toolkit, go to it. It has very practical answers to just these questions. They point out myths And then in assumptions and then they point out what the reality is and then they also it also gives what you can do to bring people

Together. So, I think I’ll stop there and really refer people to that toolkit. Thank you. Thank you very much, Sally. Um I already shared the link to the toolkit on our Facebook comments below the this very panel discussion that is live

Streamed so I do hope that people will have the opportunity to see it yesterday. I saw it. It was very nice nicely done and it’s very you know very lively and very youthful and with all of those colors and and you know,

As you said, very very practical recommendations on how to meaningfully include young people and I think more resources like that are very very much needed and more conversations like this are much needed because intergenerational operation is something that we are

Definitely speaking and we are definitely doing a lot about in the lawsuit years I would say. I think it wasn’t that prominent before but in the last few years it became very important that we need to work together in order to let’s say

Somehow confirmed and face all the issues that that this planet and we as human beings on it are facing. So these intergenerational perspectives are super important. So my another my fourth question which is going in the corner of Doctor Lakshmi. Uh we’ll be you

Know about this cooperation between youngsters and between seniors and about hate speech and about you know these initiatives countering hate speech. So can you tell us you know if you’re familiar with some of these kinds of corporations and you know if

You are familiar and if you have worked because I know that you had you have a lot of experience in this and I had the opportunity to be on one forum that is concerning hate speech against migrants and refugees and I had the

Opportunity to work with you. Uh so maybe you can just give us a few inputs and hints about the initiative that you worked on. Thank you. Please unmute yourself. Yes, I have been working on with the migrants and refugees, not personally but on their

Work and how we can support them. Ah so culturally, cultural diversity in Europe should be taken as an advantage. Ah and celebrated instead of being seen it as negative thing. That is number one. And secondly ah migrants and refugees ah they have miss

Perceptions and misunderstanding regarding the laws, customs and conditions in their host country. You know because they come from different places. These gaps can be reduced by promoting their participation. Moreover their full non intervention decisions that have an impact

On their lives. So I mean we keep it keep the migrants at a distance. Instead cooperate them in the you know take them in your work and in you know in make them more and more inclusive. That would help a

Lot. So my request to each and every person. Mix with the variety of people. Much different from you. Ah may be difficult in the beginning but it is very important for religious leaders and important ah ah both you know people holding good portfolios. That

Ah they it’s ah they mix with a variety of people. Ah political leaders and managers to know different kind of people and rediscover your relationship and make life happy for everyone. So, if you mix, for example, people travel all

Around the world and they have different kind of food. But why not mix with different kind of people and enjoy their food, you know, going to their house or restaurants or something like that. So, that’s, that’s sort of an attitude has to

Develop all round. So, valuing multiculturalism is an important aspect of ah ah you know hate speech and abuse abusive speeches. it’s very important that every become, everyone should start liking or or or at least in start doing a sort of a multicultural group

Work or something like that which will bring people together. Where every every religion is a different but they have some common things and and finally we are all human beings. You know we are not in you know any other persons. We are all human

Beings. So, why can’t we come together? If we make an effort, definitely we can. Thank you, Doctor Lakshmi. Thank you for this, let’s say, call, call to people for coming together and basically asking ourselves if we are coming and if we are

Human beings and why can we just come together and and understand each other but thank you for addressing this issue of hate speech against migrants and refugees because Europe for the past year was you know, all entangled in this you know, a

Lot of people were migrating from different parts of the world to Europe. So Europe was facing this. And a lot of hate speech was rising there. Uh I had the opportunity to work on several initiatives in Bosnia Herzegovina which is just small

Country on the route. Um on the migrant route and not a lot a lot of migrants coming but still there is you know boiling hate speech because it’s something unknown. It’s something that we don’t know and it’s something that we you

Know are as you said like not trying to understand not trying to to come as human beings and understand what those people actually went through to to come to our country and you know what kind of road and path

They had to go through. And you know you you just have to understand what is what what can happen to you that you have to leave your home to go somewhere else. You know this is the question that mostly we

Don’t ask ourselves when we are working with refugees and migrants and this is something that we we should definitely think of. So Layla I finish with my questions and I have a lot of them now but yeah it’s

Already 6: 30 PM in my in my place and it’s very late in Philippines so I would like to you know send back send rents to go to sleep. And for the sake of time I will just hand you over to wrap up the finish

And thank you very much again. Thank you very much Amina. Yes as I said when we have this nice discussion always time runs really quickly and there’s so many open questions but there there is beauty in this because then have chance to

Meet again and to continue a discussion and to open floor for discussion in online. See you again. So I would just like to thank all of you for participating, for giving you a very valuable inspo for being such a great inspiration and

Not just inspiration but for all this call for action and I hope this all our viewers will learn something that they already learn something from this and then they will take action after this and so according to all your suggestions all your nice

Inputs. I want to invite all of those viewers who are watching us right now to step outside of their comfort zone, to try to be more empathic, active listening and now to go outside if it is not too late in the

Airplane and maybe to meet somebody that they didn’t have chance to meet earlier. So as you all said, may peace prevail on earth and let all us come together for the sake of the peace, justice and healing. So thank you once again and thanks

All of those of you who are watching on Facebook and especially thank you for all of you who woke up early in the morning to join us and who stayed late in the evening. It shows how dedicated you are for

This work and I’m sure with all of your efforts and passion and knowledge that we will bring some more positive change to this world. So thank you again and thank you Amina for co-hosting this event. Thank you.

#Countering #Hate #Speech #interfaith #intergenerational #perspectives

The Interfaith Community at Rochester (long version)

The Interfaith Chapel is the center for religious and spiritual life on campus for students, faculty and staff. We have people who come here who believe a particular thing and are affiliated with particular religious tradition and we also have folks who come here for our activities who have no particular

Religious affiliation. We’ve been doing Interfaith on this campus in this chapel for forty years and when the chapel was first built Interfaith was Christian and Jewish and in that forty-plus years it’s now a much bigger tent than it was in the beginning. We have a sort of two-fold focus here. We’re

Supporting those who feel committed to a particular religious tradition but we also promote Interfaith engagement. We currently have 10 different religious groups that are affiliated with the chapel. We’ve got Muslim and Jewish and several Christian and Buddhist and Hindu and we have student groups that are

Affiliated with the chapel and a very active one in interfaith engagement, The Student Association for Interfaith cooperation and they’re the group that pretty much ties together all the other groups and gets them to do Interfaith programming together. So, tonight we’re hosting an event with Doctor Sevak

Whose a local Interfaith Religious Leaders so I’m greeting people as they come in and just try to gather people who are interested in Interfaith to hear from a local community leader and to

Connect with the campus. In the word Interfaith dialogue is a very new word, in fact. 1989 and I will give you some history. So when you hear this word, what it means to you. Understanding to learn from each other instead of trying to keep face that the other people they’re wrong. I love bringing people of different

Religious traditions and students of no tradition together to find the things they have in common and the things that they value together. University of Rochester Christian Fellowship has been around about twenty seven or twenty eight years at this point. I just like to sing and I love to seek God here. Every

Nation. We are usually the most diverse ministry on campus as far as religious groups or Christian groups that are here but we cover every corner of the earth and it’s a wonderful time because we bring all that together, that melting pot, and I’d like to

Say that we have a little slice of heaven here on earth. So what we’re going to do for tonight is hold an informational session for Hijabi for a Day which is an event that’s a part of our annual Islam Awareness week and allows students opportunity to wear

A head scarf or supportment plan in support of and solidarity of women on campus who choose to wear the headscarf as a part of their faith. Hijab or covering self is one

Of the most obvious and most seen thing about Islam and Muslims. Islam Awareness Week is all about promoting tolerance, respect understanding and that applies beyond religion. That applies to everything, I hope that this is a lee-way for people

To approach each other, talk to each other and understand each other a little bit better Cru has a weekly meeting that meets once a week on Thursday nights. A typical weekly meeting starts with about 15 minutes of socializing then it goes

Into an activity, some kind of game, some kind of get to know you activity. Ohhhh! We want to be a community where students are really caring for one another. A place where we can be real honest and vulnerable about our lives and we want

To be a community where all that’s possible because we believe a relationship with God is possible through Jesus Christ and tonight at the Interfaith Chapel, we are holding a Interfaith Thanksgiving banquet with the guest speaker, Chris Stedman, from Yale University where he is the Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community.

I am on the SAKE mailing list. I just really like their events and I really like all the, like, religious co-operation of learning about different religions, so yeah! We have the Roman Catholic Newman Community and the Protestant Chapel Community. Both of these communities have been here

On this campus for fifty years. They just hit their fifty year anniversaries last year. So the Catholic Newman Community is the largest single denomination on campus. We service about sixteen hundred Catholics on campus, thirty percent of the population and we sponsor over a hundred

And twenty programs each year that engage in spiritual to social to the academic and discovered faith and reason together. Many people see faith as opposed to reason, as if it’s an either or option and here on a Science campus we definitely take this stance that they’re very compatible. PCC is a multi-denominational

Group of kids from all different Protestant Christian backgrounds. Some of them from backgrounds that are not Protestant Christian who have all come together to worship and be a church on campus here. Also, like pretty much all faith groups, once you’ve captured the fact that we’re eating you capture the

Essential part of our group. Thank you God for giving us food. Thank you God for giving us friends. For the food we eat and the friends we meet, thank you God for giving us food. We do a lot of food in the Chapel. People can get free meals here several

Nights a week with one religious community or another. Food’s important here because obviously students like to eat and actually religious students often have religious restrictions on what they can eat so one thing they learn they start doing interfaith etiquette is learning about each other’s dietary

Restrictions and how to be hospitable to one another. All religious cultures have special foods and so often they will do things were there something special to a particular tradition that’s being served and others get to sample that and enjoy it too.

Having Diwali dinners, this is a yearly event we usually do around the fall time. It changes every year based on the calendar. We do this usually in Douglas Dining Hall and we’ve been preparing for this ever since the start of school.

Actually the light kind of symbolizes the victory of good over evil and that’s why we’re here today, not just food, vegetables or food, vegetables for everyone so we can celebrate the good over evil. Great people. Great food. It’s just a good time to celebrate a good event. Happy Hanukah . Happy Hanukah everybody. Now doughnuts and latkes against the wall. You can line up and enjoy some doughnuts, latkes on both sides. We’re going to eat latkes.

We’re going to have sufganiyan, which are doughnuts and we’re going to have fun. We got the lights, the Menorah, which is symbol of Freedom and we are going to have hundreds of students pause in the middle of finals and see what is important to celebrate the

Holiday of Hanukah together as a community. (Singing) I love bringing people of different religious traditions and students of no tradition together to find the things that they have in common and the things that they value together and engaging in conversation and discovering that they

Can make friends across lines of division that they didn’t think they could make friends. We’re so grateful to be part of that community to get to dialogue and and really work towards Interfaith Collaboration. God created us as we

Are so God didn’t want us to be one single nation so if he had willed, he would have done so but he did not. It’s important that people, regardless of faith and belief come together and you know

Take the time to learn about what the other person believes in and I think UofR’s great for starting that initiative and I’ve had a great experience working with people from the Interfaith Cooperation and hope

To do so again in the future. A production of the University of Rochester. Please visit us on-line and subscribe to our channel for more videos.

#Interfaith #Community #Rochester #long #version

Understanding religious roots: David Rosen at TEDxViadellaConciliazione

Transcriber: Keun Wook Steve Kim Reviewer: Tatjana Jevdjic In the early seventies, I was a very young rabbi in a very large congregation in Cape Town, South Africa. That was the period when Apartheid, the laws of discrimination against people based upon their race, upon their colour, were at their height.

And it was obvious to me as to so many people of faith, that this system that deprived people their fundamental human rights, was in complete conflict with religious faith and with scriptural teaching that affirms the dignity of each and every human person, of their fundamental, inalienable freedom and dignity,

Born out of the fact that each and every human being is created in the divine image, as indicated in Genesis. So it was obvious to me that I had to be engaged in social action, to try to do what I could within this iniquitous context.

And I joined together with others in various activities. But it was important for me that my community, that my faith tradition, be seen to be engaged in this struggle. One of the few ways one could go about bringing people together across the racial divide at that time, was through religion.

And so together with the leaders of the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Muslim and Jewish community, we founded an interfaith forum, a council of Christians, Muslims and Jews, one of the first of its kind in the world. So I came to interfaith relations in fact, out of a commitment to social justice.

But as I got involved in this process, I discovered some very important things. First and foremost, I was struck by how these people, who I assumed knew a little bit about Judaism and about Jews, how ignorant they were about me and about my tradition. They had misconceptions, and often biases, prejudices,

Simply out of the fact that they didn’t really know me and my community. It was obvious to me then that if I wanted to combat prejudice and bigotry against me and my community, interfaith relations is really important. But to tell the truth, I discovered something else.

I discovered that I was amazingly ignorant about them, that I too had prejudices and misunderstandings about them. And aside from the fact that surely it was just and right, that I represent them the way they understand themselves, If I really want them, I wanted them, to know me,

It was my responsibility to get to know them. In addition, I became even more aware of the fact that even if there were some profound differences theologically between the different communities, different faith traditions, we shared such profound values, such fundamental values:

Our sense of the transcendent presence in the world and meaning to life, our appreciation of the divine presence in each and every one, each and every human person created in the divine image and its concomitant responsibility to promote justice and righteousness and peace in the world.

If one really believes in those things, then surely one has a responsibility to work together with others who believe in them, so that we are greater than the sum of our different parts. And as I sought to engage with my colleagues in these areas, it became even clearer to me, even more important,

That I deepen my own knowledge of who I am and what I stand for, in order to present myself appropriately to my colleagues. So in fact, interfaith relations helped me deepen my own faith commitment, my own understanding. Something else, however, happened in the course of this engagement,

Where I met wonderful people, people who were truly inspiration, an inspiration in so many ways. It occurred to me, suddenly, that I had never really given any thought to the meaning and significance of other religious traditions. Even though I was already a rabbi, even if I was a very young one.

And I realised that there was a paradox. That throughout the course of history, our religions that have taught the idea of an omnipresent, all-present deity, a God who is the source behind the cosmos, the energy that motivates it, that guides us, that has created us in all our diversity.

That we have at the same time tried somehow to encapsulate that divine presence in one tradition. If God has created us in all our diversity and as Psalm 145 says, “God’s mercies extend to all his creatures,” then surely if God relates to us in different ways,

There must be different ways of relating to God. And anyway, how can one religion encapsulate the totality of the divine. God is more than any one religion. And I realised, as I got involved in this interfaith encounter, that through meeting people, I was getting a glimpse beyond my own particular tradition.

We affirm that we meet God in many different ways and that the human being is created in the divine image. And therefore when we meet with others, as the Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas had thought, when we meet with others in the fullness of their humanity,

That in fact is an encounter with God, that is an encounter with the divine, especially so if one is meeting someone in their sense of the divine presence, in her or his life and community. And therefore interfaith relations for me, I realized, was a religious experience.

It was an experience that expanded my horizons, my understanding of the divine presence. So, in addition to deepening my own understanding of who I was, interfaith encounters gave me a greater sense of the divine in the world, and are an enormously enriching gift for me in my life. I mentioned the story

Of how I had worked together with my colleagues to establish an interfaith forum in South Africa. The process of getting this going wasn’t that simple. Not only because of political realities, but also because of certain religious hurdles. In South Africa at that time, the vast majority of those who supported the ruling party,

The “Nationalists,” known as Afrikaners of Dutch origin, were members of the Dutch Reformed Church. It was often called “the Nationalist Party of Prayer.” And I knew that any interfaith initiative was only going to be meaningful if I could engage somebody from that community.

I had heard of a Dutch Reformed minister, “duminy” in Dutch or in Afrikaans, who was meeting with Catholics, in downtown Cape Town. Now I imagine that for most of you, that’s no big deal. But those of you who are familiar with the demonology of the Dutch Reformed Church from that period,

May be familiar with the fact that the Dutch Reformed Church taught, or should I say the Afrikaner religious community taught, that there were two great dangers. One was the “Swart gevaar,” the Black danger, and the other was the “Rooms gevaar,” the Roman Catholic danger.

And I thought, if this guy is having a dialogue with Catholics, maybe he’ll meet with Jews too! So in my naivety, I made an appointment to see him, and sat down, he received me graciously. And I opened with my gambit, which had worked so well until now. I had said, “You know, father/pastor/reverend/sheikh,

The things that bring us together are so much more important than things that keep us apart.” And they had all agreed and were happy to participate in this particular initiative. But when I said that to this duminy, he replied, with a very strong South African accent,

“To tell you the truth, rabbi, I cannot agree with you, because the most important thing in my life keeps us apart: my belief in Jesus as my personal savior, and anybody who does not share that is going to go to hell, and therefore, Rabbi, I can only meet with you

If I do my Christian duty to save you.” Fortunately, I didn’t lose my cool. And my response, which I’m not sure that I understood the fullness of its importance at the time, I said to him, “Well, thank you, Duminy, for your honesty. I still want you to come very much to these meetings

Because I think it’s important that you understand me and I certainly want to understand you. And you know what, you have to come now, because I’m giving you the opportunity to tell me about your faith.” And he came along, and he became, I would say,

Much more open in the course of our discussions, and brought others along with him. This was a very salutary experience for me. Because it, first of all, clarified the importance of not having lost my cool, and not being offended by what he said,

But above all, the importance of allowing people to discover that human encounter, interfaith encounter, that can broaden not only our sense of the divine, but can even change our own theological understandings, and make them so much broader, encompassing and so much more embracing. I saw this too when I was in Ireland.

After South Africa, we moved to Ireland, where I was Chief Rabbi. This was at the height of the Troubles of the late seventies, early eighties, when people were using, abusing, religion, in the context of the conflict to demonize one another. Together with the Christian Primates of Ireland,

We founded an Irish council of Christians and Jews. And there again, one saw that when one could manage to bring people together, and enable them to see each other as creating a divine image, each one as a child of God, instead of religion being a barrier, religion could be a wonderful bridge

That could enable people to embrace, to work together, and a source of healing and reconciliation. Things of course improved enormously after I left Ireland, just as they improved miraculously in South Africa after we left. In fact, things tend to improve in most places when I leave,

And some people want me to leave Jerusalem, in the hope that things will be better in the Holy Land. But seriously, in all these places, religion has been abused. And not just in these places, but in so many other parts of the world. We’ve heard about Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Kashmir.

And it’s not good enough, I think, to simply blame nasty politicians for manipulating religion. There’s something a little more that we need to be self-critical about, in terms of the way religion is used and abused. Of course, a lot of this has to do with power, as we heard now from Brian Grim.

I’m simplifying his wonderful sociological analysis. But power is the problem very often, when people have too much of it, they often tend to abuse it. And one needs checks and balances, but this is a human problem. But I think there is another aspect

To understanding why religion is often abused in a terrible way. And I think it has to do with the relationship of religion and identity. Religion seeks to give meaning to our understanding of who we are, as individuals, as part of a family, as part of a community,

As part of a people, even as part of humanity. And because it is wrapped up with these different components of human identity, religion nurtures those identities, it gives them meaning, it gives them purpose. But when those identities are in situations of conflict, and when people feel threatened,

They turn to what nurtures those identities, for support, for succor, for self-confidence, for reassurance, for self-justification. Sometimes then, that also becomes self-righteousness. And it becomes deprecating and denigrating of the other and even delegitimizing of the other. Religion has been abused in terrible ways in the course of history

And still is today in many parts of the world. And that sometimes leads people to think that therefore the solution is to do away with religion, and to do away with identities altogether. That was the vision that John Lennon had in his wonderful song “Imagine.” You remember, “Imagine no more countries,

It isn’t hard to do, nothing to live or die for and no religions too.” But I’m sure while John Lennon was motivated by the noblest of impulses, that this is a complete fallacy. Because identity is who we are. If you don’t have an identity, if you don’t know who you are,

As those different components of person, family, community, nation, you are rudderless, you are without psychological anchorage. You don’t have not only the stability of your own self-understanding, you are vulnerable to all kinds of winds, and of forces, and especially to extremist ideologies that manipulate people

Who are rudderless and who are vulnerable within society. The challenge is not to get away of these important components, that make us who we are, let alone the source of meaning and understanding to our existence, which is what religion is. The challenge is how to utilize identity,

How to use religious faith and commitment, in a manner that leads us to embrace others, and to serve others, and not to denigrate them, not to disparage them, and not to, God forbid, to demonize them. Indeed the challenge of everything in this world, of everything within us and around us,

Is how to ensure that what we have and that what we can engage is a source of blessing, and not, God forbid, a source of curse. More often than not, it is the negative image of religion that the media tend to be more interested in giving attention to.

And the wonderful things, the source of inspiration, that comes from religion, and the source of understanding, and engagement, and appreciation of one another, that comes from interfaith relations, is often ignored. But the truth is that there has never been as much interfaith understanding and cooperation in our world ever than there is today.

Whether it is through dialogue, through understanding, or whether it is joint initiatives, for the common values and the common good. Interfaith relations today is exponentially growing in leaps and bounds. There are hundreds upon hundreds of organizations, probably thousands in our world, seeking to promote understanding, cooperation, collaboration,

And addressing the challenges of our time, bringing faith communities together. Here, in Italy, there are many. I might just mention some, like, in this city, the wonderful Community of Sant’Egidio or “The Focolare Movement.” And there are international bodies, like the “World Conference of Religions for Peace,”

Which embraces some 15 religions in some 70 countries around the world, the “United Religions Initiative.” You’ve heard the reference made to the “United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.” Recently, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia established in Vienna, together with the governments of Austria and of Spain, a center for interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

And of course, in addition to all these international bodies, there are those, the plethora of organizations, in different locations around the world. Where I live in Israel, my organization, the “American Jewish Committee,” where I’m responsible for its interfaith relations around the world, helped found the “Interreligious Coordinating Council.”

This is an umbrella organization for over 60 organizations in Israel, promoting interreligious dialogue and understanding, between Muslims, Christians and Jews, and many crossing over, between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. AJC, my organization, also helped establish leadership organizations in Israel. We have a “Council of Religious Leaders in Israel,”

That embraces all the different denominations in the Holy Land. All the Christian denominations: Islam, Judaism, Druze, Samaritan, Bahá’í, Ahmadiyya, all the different communities brought together. We even have a “Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land,” that brings together the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and the religious leadership.

Muslim and Christian together with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, in an organization, the first of its kind ever in history. These organizations are not going to bring an end to the conflict, unfortunately. That is in the hands of the politicians. But they are critically important testimonies of what is possible.

And they are an enormous resource for the day when peace will come. And people will learn how to be a source of enrichment and of a gift to one another. Wherever we are in the world, interfaith relations, sincere engagement with those of other faiths broadens our perspective of the divine,

Gives us a greater sense of the divine presence in the world, enables us to overcome fears, suspicions, hostilities, and above all enables us to see our differences, not as, God forbid, something to denigrate, but as something to celebrate. Thank you. (Announcer) And thank you to Rabbi David Rosen.

#Understanding #religious #roots #David #Rosen #TEDxViadellaConciliazione