I’ve been working to organize and interfaith event at my church, an event that would allow Jews, Christians, and Muslims to learn about each other’s faiths. We had presentations from each faith tradition represented, followed by a guided discussion. My plan was simply to find some common ground among these people of faith. But rather than honing in on and sharing personal experiences of faith and worship with each other, the group was much more focused on global issues. Some of them dealing with elements of religion such as religious extremism, terrorism, and violent land disputes. But many discussed misuse of power, greed, and ignorance in wide sweeping contexts.
As people of faith they look to heal the world, not just issues within their faith, or even within religion at large. The realms of ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ were not segregated. Participants identified their faith as a major source of strength when facing issues of today, including ‘secular’ issues. Moreover, participants brainstormed tools to promote among their members, to improve the world beyond their community. Both ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ issues were targeted by these tools. But faith organizations were utilized as a means to bring positive change in the wider world.
For me this further illustrates the arbitrary segregation of the ‘secular’ and the ‘religious’. Here, people of faith are blurring the lines, not to have religious law dominate the country, but to bring knowledge, peace, and joy to some of the most difficult and dim situations. While it did not go exactly as planned, it was a great event that shed new light on the ‘secular’ / ‘religious’ boundary. It gave participants grass roots actions to employ in their everyday life in order to bring the healing these faiths desire so dearly.