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New Rooms in the House of Religious Pluralism
Evangelicals and the Interfaith Movement
Credits: Harvard Divinity School
Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, delivered this year's Dana McLean Greeley Lecture for Peace and Social Justice. Eboo's core belief is that "religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division." He has spoken at the TED conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, and a wide variety of other venues. He is also author of the recently released book Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America.
Evangelicals are a large and vibrant part of the American religious landscape, but are dramatically underrepresented in organized interfaith work. Patel argues that this is because the main rooms in the house of religious pluralism are for theological liberals and political progressives—rooms that are furnished in such a way that those with more conservative views feel uncomfortable. If the interfaith movement is to achieve its potential of building bridges between people of a range of religious beliefs, it will have to expand the house of religious pluralism, creating rooms where Evangelicals and others of more conservative theological and political views feel welcome and engaged. This is the room of "civic pluralism," and Patel argues that it ought to be the primary purpose of interfaith work.