Justice and Society Program

Inclusive America Project

Few issues today are as important for American civil society as maintaining its commitment to religious pluralism and tolerance. Troubled by the rise of increasingly polarizing religious rhetoric in America, the Justice and Society Program undertook to examine the issue in March 2011 at a day-long conference, "America the Inclusive," in partnership with Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core. 

Encouraged by the high level of enthusiasm exhibited by participants in the initial conference, the Justice and Society Program launched the Inclusive America Project (IAP), a high-level nonpartisan project focusing on five key sectors: youth development organizations, higher education, media, religiously affiliated organizations, and government agencies.

With former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Harvard Kennedy School professor David Gergen serving as co-chairs, IAP brought together a distinguished panel of leaders in these five sectors for full-day meetings at the Aspen Institute headquarters in December 2012 and April 2013. Panelists collaborated to author a white paper on proven strategies to increase respect for diverse religious identities in the public sphere, foster positive interfaith interactions, and form productive partnerships among people of different faiths in the service of the common good. The report, titled Principled Pluralism, was discussed in two events at the Aspen Ideas Festival (full video from both events available below!) by Co-Chairs Gergen and Albright, panel members Eboo Patel and Jim Wallis, former ISNA president Ingrid Mattson, and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. The report can be ordered here or accessed in PDF form here.

IAP has now entered its second phase, which focuses on further disseminating the report and pursuing action steps. A religious diversity project in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and The Y of the USA is now underway, and public discussions about religious diversity will be held at Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI) on April 24 and Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL) on April 29.