Take Action

We know that many Americans today feel the urgency of building understanding and respect among people of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, but they often don’t know where to begin. We plan to create a shared space in the interfaith world, an easy-to-access way for individuals or groups to find out how to become involved in interfaith activity locally and to show the American public the wide variety of interfaith events, programs, and organizations throughout the U.S.

Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters is inviting others to become a part of this initiative. By becoming a “Neighbor” of this movement your organization would gain:

1. Networking amongst some of the most recognized interfaith organizations in this country.

2. Publicity of events and programs through our interactive map, as well as social media outlets and newsletters of those already on board.

3. Resources being shared by interfaith groups who have already joined this movement.

4. The opportunity to be on the forefront of this growing, national movement.

For more information on what it would mean to become a Neighbor please read this document Becoming a KYN ME Neighbor and by reaching out to Interfaith Coordinator Kate Chance at Kate@ing.org.

Call to Action for Organizations

Through the facilitation of partner organizations, congregations, communities, and individuals will join the campaign by:

  1. Signing, sharing, and encouraging others to sign a pledge to stand up to all forms of hatred and bigotry.
  2. Inviting other communities from different religious and cultural backgrounds to a scheduled worship service or prayer at your own place of worship. See Appendix I for practical tips, Appendix II for template email invitations and Appendix III for a sample sermon.
  3. Help us publicize and support your event by submitting it to the Know Your Neighbor Interactive Map which will can be found at https://ing.org/all-events/; this also helps us track the impact that this campaign is having nationwide. Events will also be publicized through ING’s Facebook page and Twitter account. and through partner organizations’ social media accounts.
  4. Convening new events, or inviting people to existing events that are not congregational worship, which facilitate encounter and engagement across and between communities. See Appendix IV for suggested topics of interfaith panel presentations from ING; scripts and resource packets for each of these topics are available by contacting ING (kate@ing.org). Appendix V lists a selection of other organizations’ resources for planning interfaith events and Appendix VI lists some other event suggestions.
  5. Publicizing these events within and outside your own community, using the hashtag #KnowYourNeighbor on social media and inspiring others to attend future events or convene their own.
  6. Organizing a small-scale event as an individual and inviting neighbors and colleagues. Call to Action for Individuals lists some suggestions, tips, and considerations for organizing events; these were suggested by community members at visioning meetings in December 2015 and February 2016 in the Bay Area, CA.

Call to Action for Individuals

  • Neighbors: Inviting your local neighbors to an informal social gathering can be a great way to begin building new relationships of trust, and strengthen existing relationships. You could invite neighbors to come to your house to celebrate your holiday with you, asking them to perhaps bring a can of food to donate to the local food bank, and enjoying special foods that they may well be familiar with – such as pecan pie, pizza, donuts, cookies. People are very curious to learn about new cultures and religions, and while they most likely won’t ask hostile questions, they may ask for your views on a host of issues. For Muslims, you may want to refer to online resources like ING’s Answers to 100+ Frequently Asked Questions . An alternative to an holiday party could be a family-friendly games day (or night) with a selection of board games, word games, and physical activities.
  • Framing: Remind people that you are an individual practitioner of your faith tradition, and that while you will be happy to speak about what your faith gives you and why it’s an important part of your identity, you cannot speak on behalf of anyone else and you certainly do not represent your entire community. Remind people that you are not a scholar or an “expert”, and that you are speaking from your own personal experience of how you live your faith and identity in your local area. Making a local connection helps to remind people that you part of the same community as them, and you are likely as involved in local politics and social life as they are.
  • Connection: To the extent that you’re comfortable doing so, try to make connections based on any and all aspects of your identity. Emphasize that as well as being a practicing member of your religious community, you are a mother/father, soccer player, baseball fan, avid reader, coffee drinker, baker, etc. Making a person-to-person connection on a human level makes it easier for people to empathize.
  • Language: Try to avoid using foreign words which may be unknown or even off-putting. For example, for Muslims refer to ‘God’ rather than ‘Allah’ and if you use non-English phrases in conversation, explain them. Avoid using language that reinforces a binary narrative of “us” and “them” or “we” and “you”. Emphasize your shared identity as Americans as your primary identity; you may be American-Muslims, American-Hindus, or American-Jews, but first and foremost you are Americans.
  • Responding to Questions: We advise individuals who have not received training against organizing formal panels or presentations, because responding to complex and sometimes loaded questions in a nuanced and effective way can be difficult without training and experience. We encourage you to consult online resources such as IING’s Answers to 100+ Frequently Asked Questions about Islam and Muslims to be better able to respond to questions which your neighbors or other community members might ask you if you set up a table at a library, mall, or community center with a sign saying “Meet a Muslim” or “Ask Me Anything”. You could offer coffee and donuts to passersby and engage them in conversation.