Bridging faith communities is essential to combat violence against minorities and create partnerships to tackle the challenges that face society. The Aspen Institute interviewed CRCC Executive Director Brie Loskota for a podcast about how interfaith initiatives reduce misconceptions and tensions between groups.
After a profile of a Muslim children’s choir that does interfaith outreach outside of Washington, DC, the podcast turns to Loskota, who says:
At the moment, we live at a time of real deep polarizations, and I often say that I think we are simply out of practice about how to be together.
So, if you want to understand a particular religious community, call that one up and see if you are welcome to come and sit in on one of their services – or if they have an educational event – and just go and observe before you ask questions. And then maybe go the second time and ask questions. And then after you’ve gone a couple of times and you’ve maybe met some people, see if there is somebody that would be willing to talk to you. And in the interim, before you talk to them, I would do a little bit of reading – read about them. But more importantly I would read about the way in which you can ask questions so that you ask them in open ways that incite people’s wholehearted disclosure and their ability to feel free to answer them. And I think part of the problem is that we just don’t have a lot of these skills. Doing work that is inclusive and doing work that is about building bridges to me is some of the most counter-cultural work we can do simply because that’s not the trend and that’s not what’s being uplifted and valued by many parts of society right now.
She also commented on the children’s choir, challenging the adults to join them:
I think reaching people at any age is valuable. What I would say though about the challenge around young people is that I often find that adults ask young people to do things that the adults themselves are unwilling to do. If adults are unable to model what we want from kids, then I don’t know how fair it is to ask the kids to shoulder the burden of doing work we won’t do ourselves.
Loskota contributed an article on creating effective partnerships to The Aspen Institute Inclusive America Project’s report, Pluralism in Peril.