4th of July Reminder of Religious Expression in American Public Life

July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

In celebration of July 4th, and with the hope that this document will be useful to religious communities and public debates, we are re-releasing this joint statement of current law on religious expression in American public life today.  The document, Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law, attempts to clearly set an accurate understanding of the current state of the law. It does not focus on what the law should be, but rather what the law is today. The document answers questions concerning a wide range of topics including religious holiday displays, religion in the military and religion in the classroom.

The document was drafted by a committee made up of legal experts, academics and representatives of national civil rights & community organizations, including Islamic Networks Group.

ING Receives Support For Its Work From Four Foundations

ING was recently awarded grants from the El-Hibri, Greve, San Francisco, and One Nation foundations that will focus on reversing negative stereotyping of and discrimination against American Muslims and American Muslim communities. The strategies for implementation will include interfaith dialogue and community service projects involving Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders and communities, as well as disseminating ING’s work nationwide through our existing and new Affiliates.

The El-Hibri Foundation grant partly funded the ING Affiliate Conference that took place on June 8-10 and will fund the start of a new Affiliate in the D.C.-Virginia region.

The Greve Foundation grant will fund initiatives addressing Islamophobia in the United States through public education campaigns about Muslims and their faith.

The San Francisco Foundation grant will focus on increasing the capacity of Bay Area Muslim organizations for service oriented projects through interfaith collaborations.

The One Nation grant will support Muslim organizations in a series of conversations between faith leaders of Muslims, Jews and Christians and prepare for collaboration by the three communities on large-scale community service projects.

ING’s Work Dramatically Improves Perceptions of Muslims and Their Faith

Islamophobia, like any prejudice, rests mostly on ignorance. Among the most important outcomes of ING’s work is our audience’s increase in their sense of familiarity with Islam and Muslims. The chart above summarizes the tabulation for students in grades seven to twelve based on hundreds of surveys conducted between September 2011 and June 2012. The results are striking: the percentage considering themselves to have only a minimal knowledge drops from thirty-eight to six, while that considering their knowledge high rises from twenty-four to seventy-three.

Based on hundreds of adults surveys between September 2011 and June 2012, the results for adult audiences are equally striking as shown above. Adult audiences appear to rate their level of knowledge lower than do youth audiences; but, even so, the percentage of those rating their knowledge as minimal fell from forty-six to nine percent, while the percentage of those rating their knowledge high rose from twenty-three to fifty-nine percent. Obviously, ING presentations are effective in imparting a sense of familiarity with I
slam and Muslims that is a major factor in undoing prejudice.
ING Increases Audience Reach in 2011-2012 by 85%The total numbers for audiences of ING presentations in 2011-12 increased dramatically over last year. This is in large measure due to ING’s increased outreach to community groups and participation in community events, including the official San Francisco commemoration of 9/11. While no one event in the coming year may be as large as that one, ING’s growing outreach and marketing to the broader community, from Rotary clubs to congregations of every faith, should bring ING’s voice and presence to an ever wider public.

The charts above show the breakdown of audience types and presentations types by ING from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012. Live ING presentations reached over 35,000 youth and adults in the Bay Area. Combining youth and adult audiences, seventy-three percent of the presentations related to American Muslims and their faith and twenty-seven percent were interfaith panels, including the other two Abrahamic faiths and Hinduism and Buddhism. Fifty-three percent of the total presentations were to adult audiences and forty-seven percent were to youth audiences.

    Help us continue increasing understanding, building mutual respect and preventing discrimination and conflict in our communities.ING is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, accredited by the Better Business Bureau. All donations are tax-deductible.