Interfaith Speakers Bureau Overview

Initiated in 2007, the Interfaith Speakers Bureau (IFSB), is both a natural outgrowth of the interfaith friendships and connections the organization has built in the course of its work and a recognition that the acceptance of Islam and Muslims is intimately related to the degree to which our society accepts and welcomes cultural and religious diversity and pluralism in general. The Interfaith Speakers Bureau extends ING’s outreach efforts to build bridges among religious communities and enhance religious literacy and mutual respect.

To learn more about the powerful impact IFSB has had on the Bay Area, click here. By leveraging the success of the Islamic Speakers Bureau and through partnerships with over 50 Bay Area interfaith organizations, ING can provide schools, colleges, universities, and other organizations with onsite interfaith speaker panels that represent multiple religions.The Interfaith Speakers Bureau program consists of speakers from the Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu faith traditions. Our purpose is to increase cultural and religious literacy and mutual respect while furthering religious freedom and pluralism in our communities. We achieve this through
educational dialogues.

The needs and opportunities that the Interfaith Speakers Bureau program addresses are as follows:

  1. To fulfill the goal of the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law
    respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. “ At this critical time of
    government preferences and global strife that often center on religious divisions, modeling an interfaith
    community in one’s local area that is inclusive of all major religious groups and voices is an important
    step towards living and practicing religious pluralism, a goal which has never been so important.
  2. To fulfill the growing demand for education about world religions in public institutions, particularly in:
    • Middle and high schools where religion in the context of social studies and world history is required
    • Colleges and universities where teachers and resources about religion, particularly Islam, are highly
      sought after in a post-9/11 context.
    • Law enforcement agencies, corporations, and healthcare facilities that are required to teach cultural
      diversity or competency as part of corporate, state, and/or federal mandates.
    • Government, community, and faith-based institutions that are seeking to build bridges among
      people of different faiths.
  3. To fulfill the growing number of requests for grassroots activists, speakers, and educators who are
    regularly connected in their regional houses of worship and organizations to provide education about
    their faith tradition and their views and perspectives on a variety of issues.
  4. To provide accurate supplemental material for public institutions that offer in-house delivery of
    cultural diversity training and other programs.
  5. To provide needed content for interfaith dialogues and conversations in local communities.
  6. To improve interreligious dialogue among people of all faiths, especially between Muslim and Jewish
    Americans, as it improves relationships and increases peace and harmony in local and regional
  7. To provide answers to frequently asked questions about religious communities and ongoing conflicts in
    the world that involve religion.
  8. To address prevalent stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and
    Christians, which in the case of Muslims have risen dramatically after 9/11 according to various polls.
  9. To reduce discrimination and bias in the delivery of services in public institutions by better informing
    service providers about different religious beliefs and practices.
  10. To improve the quality of life for members of faith communities by reducing incidents of prejudice and
    hate crimes against them.

The Interfaith Speakers Bureau offers two major types of panels. Requesters can select from one of the following topics:

Multi-Faith Panel: Living the Faith
How do adherents of different religions implement and live their beliefs, practices, and values in the busy life they lead in the San Francisco Bay area? In this panel discussion, panelists answer this question, drawing on their understanding and experiences living in this region. Among the topics addressed are how religions influence everyday life, how people make room in their daily schedule for the demands of their religion, and how they negotiate possible tensions between religious practice and their working and living environment. (60 – 120 minutes)

Multi-Faith Panel: Shared Values Among Faiths
Religions and cultures differ, but all the major world religions share key values. In this panel discussion, panelists discuss the human and ethical values they share with one another. This panel illustrates the possibility, and indeed the necessity, for diverse religions to join together in a common effort for a more harmonious and peaceful world. (60 – 120 minutes)

Multi-Faith Panel: Religion and Extremism
Various forms of fundamentalism and extremism pose a problem in all religious traditions and communities. In this panel presentation, panelists discuss the forms that extremism and fundamentalism take in their traditions and how their communities meet the challenge posed by such distortions of their beliefs. (60 – 120 minutes)

Multi-Faith Panel: Religion and Pluralism
How do different religions view the beliefs and practices of other traditions? Is adherence to one religious tradition compatible with respect for the many other religious traditions and convictions in our world? In this panel discussion, representatives of the major world religions address these questions and explain how each of their traditions is able to adhere to its convictions while taking a positive and respectful stance toward the diverse beliefs of others. (60 – 120 minutes)

Multi-Faith Panel: Separation of Church and State
The relations between religious institutions and state power have been a source of controversy and conflict throughout human history. In this panel discussion, panelists discuss the different ways that their religious community has interacted with the state in history and in today’s world, demonstrating that all traditions can respect the independence and impartiality of government and that a secular state need not be a threat to religion. (60 – 120 minutes)

Multi-Faith Panel: Religion and Environmental Concerns
Environmental degradation and climate change have become major global concerns that threaten our existence as we know it on this planet. In this panel presentation, panelists discuss their religion’s teachings about conservation and environmental preservation. While environmental issues are a new concern in the form they present themselves today, religious traditions have long addressed the question of how humanity relates to and interacts with the environment. (60 – 120 minutes)

Muslim-Jewish Relations in the U.S. – Living in the Shadow of the Middle East Conflict
The purpose of this panel is to change the paradigm of Jewish-Muslim American conversations away from the Middle East conflict towards common interests as Americans, addressing topics such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and maintaining a religious identity as two of the largest religious minorities in the country. (55 minutes)

Custom Panel
This presentation allows you to pick a specific focus that might not be included above. Once you order this presentation, we will contact you to discuss the details of your custom presentation.

To schedule an interfaith panel, click here.