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Initiated in 2007, the Interfaith Speakers Bureau (IFSB) provides educational presentations on various topics related to five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism), promoting religious literacy and mutual respect among all faiths. Modeled after the Islamic Speakers Bureau, the IFSB organizes panels consisting of two or more representatives of these religions speaking on a variety of topics to schools, colleges, universities, and other venues.
IFSB speakers share a brief overview of their faith and then speak on a variety of contemporary topics, including “Living the Faith in the SF Bay Area,” “Shared Values Between Faiths,” and Contemporary Issues such as “Pluralism” and the “Separation of Church and State.” Additionally, the Jewish-Muslim panel addresses common issues related to living as religious minorities in the United States. Since its founding in 2007, the IFSB has given close to a thousand presentations to over 30,000 people.
Impact of IFSB Panels
- The most recent evaluation results show 98% of audiences rating the panel they attended as “excellent” (62%) or “good” (36%), with only 2% rating it “fair” and 0% “poor.”
- Among the most frequent responses to the open-ended questions on the evaluation form are the following:
- Surprise and pleasure at seeing people of different faith convictions and backgrounds coming together as friends
- Increased understanding of and the dispelling of prejudice against certain religious groups, above all Muslims, but also Jews and Buddhists
- Increased appreciation of the ethical and moral values that different religious traditions hold in common
- Increased understanding of, and often surprise at, all that different religious traditions have in common, especially in the values they encourage