Wednesday, June 21, 2023
The InterContinental Hotel – The Wharf
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Powering Pluralism Network Members Dinner
Powering Pluralism Network members will join Religion & Society staff and special guests to celebrate the field of religious pluralism and explore contemplative practices that strengthen coalition building work.
Dinner Panel | Contemplative Practices for Strengthening Coalition Action | SPEAKERS: Jeanné Lewis, Faith in Public Life, Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Religions for Peace USA, James A. Lynch, Jr, Rissho Kosei Kai
Across faith traditions, many have contemplative practices that help adherents determine right actions, especially regarding societal and political change. Panelists will share the wisdom behind their contemplative practices and share methods that can be used by faith-based coalitions to discern strategy and spark transformative joint action. Participants will reflect on their own contemplative practices and strategize how they can work in coalition to improve the political landscape.
Thursday, June 22, 2023
The InterContinental Hotel – The Wharf
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:30 – 9:40 – Opening Plenary Session | Whose Story Do We Tell? The Challenges and Importance of Accurate Religion Reporting & Storytelling | LOCATION: Waterside 1 & 2
How does an ever growing and changing media landscape shape and distort how we understand religion? Join religious leaders, public theologians, and media experts as they explore the balance between critical reporting, shared understanding, spiritual practices, and social prejudices to discern our collective role in presenting a more accurate picture of modern pluralism.
9:50 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. – Breakout Sessions #1
(Attendees have choice of 1)
PANEL | Leveling the Public Square: Reporting on Religion in a Multifaith Society | Speakers: Mark Silk, Religion News Service, Roxane Stone, Religion News Service, Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service, Adelle Banks, Project Editors | LOCATION: Waterside 3
Accurate and insightful reporting on faith groups is more necessary than ever – and increasingly rare, due to shrinking budgets and a lack of grounding in religious literacy for journalists. Panelists will discuss Religion News Service’s reporting approach, giving all faiths the space to be understood on their own terms while examining their goals and actions as citizens in a multiracial, multi-faithful democracy.
PRESENTATION | Representing Religion in Media | Speakers: Rev. Mark Fowler, Tanenbaum, Dasha Tanner, Tanenbaum | LOCATION: Seaport 2
In this session, we invite the audience to view a camera as a catalyst for action—a chance to reflect, to collaborate, and give back. In doing so, we will explore the media as a mediator between our differences—religious and otherwise. We will unpack how the Representing Religion website can be used to learn from and connect to communities who are already sharing their stories.
PRESENTATION | Blind Spot: Religion and Contemporary Journalism | Speaker: Josh Good, Ethics and Public Policy Center | LOCATION: Seaport 1
How and who trains the media about religion? What are the common questions and hesitations that journalists have in covering faith? How do we create wider models for faith coverage and continuing education? This session will answer these questions and cover the critical need for religious competency training in newsrooms across the country.
PRESENTATION | Filming Peace and Pluralism, Unity Productions Foundation | Speaker: Alex Kronemer, Unity Productions Foundation| LOCATION: Harbor
The work of Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) is to counter bigotry and create peace through the media. UPF produces films that tell compelling stories for television, online viewing, and theatrical release. These films are part of long-term educational campaigns aimed at increasing religious and cultural pluralism, especially among Muslims and other faiths.
11:10 – 12:10 p.m. – Breakout Session #2
(Attendees have a choice of 1)
DISCUSSION | Civic and Theological Pluralism | Speaker: Anantand Rambachan, Religions for Peace | LOCATION: Seaport 1
Justifications for religious pluralism and inter-religious cooperation generally emphasize the civic value of such engagement. The civic arguments, however, need to be complemented and enriched by theological arguments. Civic arguments are important but often end up in commending tolerance. Theological arguments have the potential to enable us to celebrate religious pluralism and rejoice in our neighbors of other faiths.
PANEL & DISCUSSION | Sacred Heritage: Promoting Pluralism | Speakers: Knox Thames, Pepperdine University, Andy Vaughn, American Society of Overseas Research, Brian Lione, Program Manager, Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute | LOCATION: Waterside 3
Across the Middle East, sacred sites tell of a diverse but forgotten past and demonstrate a history of living together with profound differences. While these stories were never perfect, sacred sites provide an indigenous inflection point to discuss the importance of respecting diversity and others’ beliefs. With a strong belief that understanding our collective histories can improve our future, this session will discuss, through speakers and audience interaction, ways to leverage the unexplored avenue of cultural heritage to promote religious pluralism.
PRESENTATION | Fortune: How Race Broke My Family And The World–And How To Repair It All | Speaker: Lisa Sharon Harper, Freedom Road | LOCATION: Harbor
Drawing on her lifelong journey to know her family’s history, leading Christian activist Lisa Sharon Harper recovers the beauty of her heritage, exposes the brokenness that race has wrought in America, and casts a vision for collective repair. Harper has spent three decades researching ten generations of her family history through DNA research, oral histories, interviews, and genealogy. Fortune, the name of Harper’s first nonindigenous ancestor born on American soil, bore the brunt of the nation’s first race, gender, and citizenship laws. As Harper traces her family’s story through succeeding generations, she shows how American ideas, customs, and laws robbed her ancestors–and the ancestors of so many others–of their humanity and flourishing.
INTERACTIVE PRESENTATION | How Religious Minorities Have Protected Your Rights: Understanding Religious Literacy through Religious Freedom | Speakers: Hannah Santos, Freedom Forum, David Callaway, Freedom Forum | LOCATION: Seaport 2
From Regla de Ocha to Jehovah’s Witnesses, many landmark religious freedom cases originated with minority religious communities asserting their First Amendment rights. Despite the importance of this history, there remains widespread religious illiteracy about both the cases themselves and the communities that brought them into light. This breakout session will showcase a new resource which introduces audiences as young as 8th grade to critical religious freedom decisions and the communities behind each case. Together, attendees examine a corresponding discussion guide and facilitate an interactive discussion about how this resource can be used in classrooms to further religious literacy and First Amendment education for all ages.
12:20 p.m. – 12:40 p.m. Lunch
12:40 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. – Afternoon Plenary Session | Can Faith Save Us From Climate Change? | LOCATION: Waterside 1 & 2
Do faith communities have the will, the power, and the strategies to help address the climate crisis? What is pluralism’s role in the push for climate action? Leading climate scientists and multi-faith practitioners will join policymakers in dialogue in this roundtable discussion on one of the most pressing issues of our time.
1:50 -2:20 p.m. – Film Screening | STRANGER AT THE GATE | LOCATION: Waterside 1 & 2
2:40 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. – Breakout Session #3
(Attendees can pick 1)
DISCUSSION | Overcoming Racism: The Role of Religion and the Faith Community | Speaker: PJ Andrews, Bahá’ís of the United States, Mat Cotton, Bahá’ís of the United States | LOCATION: Harbor
Since 2017, the US Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs has hosted a dialogue on faith and race with leaders and national representatives in Washington, D.C. on the role of the faith community and religion in promoting racial justice and unity. This dialogue was recently distilled into a document, Overcoming Racism: The Role of Religion and the Faith Community, with insights and commitments from these conversations. This session will invite attendees to a conversation about the implications of this document within and beyond faith communities.
PANEL | Hindu Nationalism in the United States | Speakers: Husnaa Vhora, Indian American Muslim Council, Nikhil Mandalaparthy, Author, Ria Chakrabarty, Hindus for Human Rights | LOCATION: Seaport 1
Hindu nationalism is a far-right political ideology that advocates for India to be transformed into a Hindu state. Hindu nationalism is widespread in India today, but it’s growing in the U.S. as well. In this interactive session, participants will learn about the origins and impact of Hindu nationalism in India, how it’s polarizing communities across the U.S., and how this movement is connected to other far-right movements that threaten American religious freedom and democracy.
PANEL | Challenges to U.S. Religious Freedom & Pathways Forward | Speakers: Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Religions for Peace USA, Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Maggie Siddiqi, Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Sousan Abadian, Independent Consultant & Former Franklin Fellow at US State Department | LOCATION: Waterside 3
This panel will focus on the recent challenges that have arisen for religious freedom in the United States, its impact on people and communities of faith as well as those without a faith affiliation, and explore possible solutions to these challenges. Audience Q&A will follow.
PANEL | The Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign: A Multifaith Approach to Countering Anti-Muslim Discrimination | Speakers: Nina Fernando, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, Meira Neggaz, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Najeeba Syeed, Interfaith Institute at Augsburg University, Jen Kilps, Minnesota Multifaith Network, Amanda Tyler, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) | LOCATION: Seaport 2
In this session, participants will explore the importance of multifaith solidarity work, Shoulder to Shoulder’s specific framework for practicing it, and discuss strategies and tactics for building a more pluralistic and inclusive nation where all people are treated respectfully, fairly, and with dignity. Participants will have space to reflect on current issues around anti-Muslim discrimination, share their own experiences, explore deeper questions, and plan out the next steps for partner engagement.
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Breakout Session #4
(Attendees can pick 1)
DISCUSSION | Gun Violence and Faith Communities: Where Do We Go Next? | Speakers: Meredith Jacobs, Jewish Women International, Raymond Chang, Asian American Christian Collaborative, Jamar Boyd, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Mark Beckwith, Bishops United Against Gun Violence, Kathy Rim, Asian American Christian Collaborative | LOCATION: Waterside 3
Join faith leaders at the front lines of organizing their communities to respond to rising gun violence, and discuss the implications for religious pluralism this work raises.
PRESENTATION | Witnessing Powerful Pluralism: Lessons from the Tri-Faith Commons | Speaker: Wendy Goldberg, Tri-Faith Commons | LOCATION: Seaport 1
The Tri-Faith Initiative will give an up-close look at the organization’s messy experiment fostering interreligious relationships and provide attendees with some practical tips for making progress in your community. The Tri-Faith Initiative embodies the hope of religious pluralism and is a model of how diverse religious and non-religious communities engage while maintaining their distinct identities.
PANEL | Pope Francis, Pluralism and Polarization: Opportunities and Challenges in the Catholic Community | Speakers: John Carr, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life Georgetown University, Kim Daniels, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life Georgetown University, Father Aaron Wessman, Glenmary Home Missioners | LOCATION: Seaport 2
Pope Francis has set the Roman Catholic Church in a direction that centers dialogue and encounter. What is the state of pluralism with the Catholic Community? What are the challenges and opportunities? What does this mean for the mission of the church?
PRESENTATION | Community Safety: Improving Hate Violence Prevention Efforts | Speaker: Sim J. Singh Attariwala, The Sikh Coalition | LOCATION: Harbor
Community and religious safety is a central focus. Come learn about the important work of The Sikh Coalition in working to combat hate violence and what prevention efforts look like.
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Summit Banquet | LOCATION: Waterside 1 & 2
Join the Religion & Society Program and our generous sponsors for an evening banquet with special programming led by POWER Interfaith’s Bishop Dwayne D. Royster. Programming will dive into discussions around these central questions: Can we live into a vibrant pluralism in the 21st century? What do we need for a future of religion where all are more fully protected and all have something to gain from cooperation? What is the role of memory and repair?
Friday, June 23, 2023
The InterContinental Hotel – The Wharf
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Day 2: Opening Plenary Session | A Discussion on Religion and Philanthropy | Speakers: Christopher Washnock, Trinity Church Wall Street, Simran Jeet Singh, Aspen Institute Religion and Society Program | Location: Waterside 1 & 2
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Day 2: Plenary Session | Bringing Faith into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conversation | Speakers: Farah Siddiqui, Google, Elizabeth Mashie, Walmart | Location: Waterside 1 & 2
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts in the modern workplace have made some strides, but don’t often include faith as part of the discussion. Panelists will discuss how faith impacts work and life in the 21st century, and will be joined by leaders from the business sector.
10:40 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. – Breakout Session #5
(Attendees can pick 1)
PRESENTATION | Religion and DEI within Business | Speakers: W.Y. Alice Chan, Centre for Civic Religious Literacy, Paul Lambert, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
Co-presenting current 2-year project to promote religious literacy in workplaces in a small town in Canada, and introduce it as something to consider for rural America. This is a pilot project aimed to support small-to-medium sized businesses in rural Canada by creating a locally relevant model of employee resource groups (ERG)/affinity groups that exist in large multinationals, and to create a faith and belief friendly certification appropriate for the context. This workshop will explore the rationale for this work, process, lessons learned, and its relevance for small towns in America.
INTERACTIVE PRESENTATION | From Marginalization to Inclusivity: How online spaces can be transformed from places of isolation to platforms of proud and inclusive religious narratives for youth | Speaker: Yehudah Potok, Facing History and Ourselves
In this session, we will explore the concept of “We and They” as articulated by philosopher and cultural theorist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, to understand the ways in which narratives are shaped and controlled. We will also unpack strategies to help youth navigate these spaces in a way that fosters curiosity, understanding, and empathy while providing them with the tools to stand up to religious hate that they may encounter on social media.
DISCUSSION | Hamline University and the Future of DEI and Religion in Higher Education | Speakers: Todd Green, America Indivisible, Homayra Ziad, John Hopkins University
This session uses the Hamline controversy as a starting point for exploring the ways that religion is often misunderstood, neglected, or avoided in higher education DEI efforts, and for understanding the adverse effect this can have on the health and vitality of universities. Panelists will also share and seek input on a project in the making, in collaboration with Interfaith America, America Indivisible and Johns Hopkins University, to bring together higher education officials to better engage with religious diversity and pluralism in DEI conversations, policies, and processes, and to identify resources and obstacles.
PANEL | The New Religious Pluralism: Faith Rooted Organizing and the Strengthening of Democracy | Speakers: Graie Hagans, Bend the Arc, Umar Hakim, INKERIJ Foundation, Alvin Herring, Faith in Action, Yaquelin Valencia, Faith in Action, Vicky Stott, Kellogg Foundation
Faith is changing in America and new voices of faith, religion and spiritual practice are making their views and their values heard in the public square. This session will dive into how elements of this evolving pluralism are organizing around racial and economic justice and strengthening democracy through their work. Expect to hear from voices across the spectrum of faith in America.
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Breakout Session #6
(Attendees can pick 1)
PRESENTATION | Faith American Character and Community | Amy McIsaac, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement
Faith permeates the civic fabric of the U.S. It deeply impacts this country’s civic spaces and institutions through the ways individuals learn and practice civic skills and in how they organize for civic action and mutual aid, both in times of peace and trouble. Based on a three-year funding and learning initiative hosted by Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), this session will present new evidence of the positive impacts faith organizations have on democracy with a focus on civil rights, justice, and power for new and marginalized Americans.
INTERACTIVE PRESENTATION | Philanthropy and the Black Church: A Necessary Collaborative for the Common Good | Speakers: Dr. Elizabeth Lynn, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, Rev. Dr. Carlos Perkins, Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, Rev. Dr. Reggie Blount, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Contemporary philanthropy is in the midst of a double reckoning, with a history of avoiding work with faith-based organizations and its record of underfunding Black-led organizations. There has been little attention paid to philanthropy’s relationship with Black churches, which have seen both a racial and religious funding gap despite their crucial role as anchor institutions in the Black community. Participants in this session will learn about efforts to build partnerships between foundations and Black churches, explore the patterns of philanthropic engagement that currently exist with faith-based organizations, and how those patterns persist or change when those organizations are Black-led and Black-serving.
INTERACTIVE PRESENTATION | Evaluating Religious Literacy | Speaker: Kate Soules, Religion & Education Collaborative
This session will discuss recent work with the Religion and Society Program on the evaluation of religious literacy. This session will explore the newly developed practitioner report and guidebook regarding how to implement the evaluation of religious literacy in educational programs. Participants will have the opportunity to work with the tools in the guidebook and collaboratively brainstorm ways to increase the evaluation and assessment of their work in religious literacy.
PANEL | Strengthening the Diverse Religious Ecosystem | Speakers: David Bailey, Arrabon, Jenan Mohajir, Interfaith America, Branden Polk, Stand Together
Faith communities of many traditions in this country have been closest to the problems manifesting today. They are hubs for innovation and incubators for new solutions. But what is holding this interfaith ecosystem back from being supercharged in impact? What are the macro and micro barriers to transformation? In this session we will explore how pluralism can support the strengthening of the faith ecosystem, lean into the skepticism about pluralism as a means to achieve success, and offer a path forward that transforms communities and builds social cohesion.