Inclusive America Project
America is the most religiously diverse country in the world, and religion is an important pole of identity for many Americans. Therefore, few issues today are as vital for American civil society as maintaining our national commitment to religious pluralism to ensure a strong civil society. The Justice & Society Program believes that an inclusive America will possess basic religious literacy, an appreciation of the First Amendment value of free religious exercise, and an ability to respond to incidents of violence in a resilient way. Interfaith leaders will emerge, who like past civil rights leaders will inspire, influence, and voice the aspirations of minority religious communities while bridging difference with adherents of other faith traditions.
The Inclusive America Project, launched in 2012, is a high-level nonpartisan project focusing on five key sectors: youth development organizations, higher education, media, religiously affiliated organizations, and government agencies. Our work builds upon the Aspen Institute’s highest and best function, which is its capacity to convene and bridge political difference. We focus on enhancing religious pluralism in three ways: through publications highlighting best practices and thought leadership on religious pluralism; through small convenings that foster innovative collaborations and alliances; and through thoughtful leveraging of existing relationships to avert negative developments in a tumultuous political moment. We focus on medium and long-term strategies to embed educational efforts in youth service organizations, build on existing alliances, and create new partnerships. Through our work, we have been able to highlight and disseminate 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 beliefs to advance the common good.
We’re excited to share our new report from our Inclusive America Project, “Pluralism in Peril: Challenges to an American Ideal.” The report explores how our nation can maintain its historical commitment to embracing people of all faith backgrounds against a backdrop of polarization. Pluralism in Peril offers guidance to community and interfaith leaders, youth-serving organizations, philanthropists, and state and local officials on specific action steps to build a more resilient, trust-based environment that fully incorporates American religious minorities. It also includes effective tools and strategies to defenders of this core American value. Essays explore ways to increase basic religious literacy, promote allyship and community resilience, and build bridges between youth of different faith traditions. The report can be found here and more information about the February 7 launch event can be found here.