Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters

Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters is a national grassroots campaign of the Know Your Neighbor Coalition that was founded at the White House in December, 2015, to promote unity and mutual respect and understanding among the people of diverse religions and cultures who together make up our country. Multifaith Encounters is a collaboration of various interfaith groups, with diverse missions and objectives, who share the American value of religious pluralism.

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.

We encourage all interfaith organizations in this country, regardless of their size, political views or religious affiliation to join us on this mission and become a part of this coalition. We hope you will join us in seeking ways to respond to anti-minority sentiment, bigotry, and hatred by encouraging and facilitating face-to-face engagement, relationship-building, dialogue, and action between people of different religious traditions, beliefs, and cultures.

Why should my organization join?

  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.

Who qualifies as a Neighbor?

  1. A group that is active in interfaith work, to the extent that advancing interfaith is a part of their mission statement.
  2. A group that embraces pluralistic values in their mission statement, and is not exclusive towards faith traditions or focused on a single tradition.
  3. A group that is alive and active, whether this is through meetings, events, programs, etc.
  4. A group that shares the Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters values and mission statement.

What do we ask of our Neighbors?

  1. To be active participants in this grassroots movement by:
    1. Sharing events and programs of other neighbors and helping to publicize other groups efforts.
    2. Sharing your events and scalable programs to put on our interactive map.
    3. Attending online meetings.
    4. Using KYN hash tags and other methods of promotion through social media.
    5. Share the mission of Know Your Neighbor with others and invite affiliates and friends within your own network to join this movement.

What will your organization get out of becoming a Neighbor?

  1. Publicity of events and programs, through the map as well as through fellow Neighbors.
  2. Exposure of your organization at a national level.
  3. Access to other resources of fellow Neighbors, outside of what is published online.
  4. Capacity building of your organization.
  5. Opportunities to network and build relationships with a wide range some of interfaith organizations, from some of the most prominent groups in this country to local interfaith councils with close ties to their communities.

Campaign Partners:

Need and Opportunity

People who regularly attend a place of worship are often more deeply rooted in their community and have greater social capital and larger, stronger in-person social networks than those who do not. At the same time, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked, Sunday morning can often be “the most segregated hour in this nation”: a number of different communities and congregations may be physically located in the same neighborhood or even on the same block, but rarely do congregants and worshippers have the opportunity, resources, or capacity to connect with each other in meaningful and authentic ways. It is human nature to mistrust the unknown. Our communities are only as strong as the connections we have, the connections we make, and the connections we build. It is not enough to engage with others in our communities only in crisis situations when there is a need to respond to an immediate threat. Instead, we need to intentionally build the strength and capacity of our communities on an institutional and organizational level – which begins when we get to know our neighbors.

The Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters campaign from ING will encourage and equip individuals, communities, and congregations to stand up to all forms of hatred and bigotry by engaging with their neighbors in simple, practical ways, and that the solution to ending bigotry and discrimination is through the simple act of face-to-face interaction, and to #KnowYourNeighbor.

Defining and Understanding the Scope of the Campaign

Terms like interfaith, multi-faith, and interreligious are often used interchangeably, and may be understood differently in different contexts or communities. The Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters campaign believes that interfaith, multi-faith, or interreligious dialogue or action means being rooted in your own identity, tradition, and culture whilst having the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to learn from and about others in meaningful and impactful ways. Except for the campaign’s title, you are encouraged to use whichever term your own community is most comfortable or familiar with.

Similarly, the terms diversity and pluralism can have different connotations and meaning in different communities. According to Harvard scholar of religion Diana Eck: ‘Diversity is just plurality, plain and simple – splendid, colorful, perhaps threatening. Pluralism is the engagement that creates a common society from all that plurality’. Interfaith Youth Core Founder Eboo Patel expands on this and suggests that a helpful framing could be principled pluralism: ‘Principled pluralism encourages that engagement, but respects the desire of some groups to respectfully limit it, in harmony with deeply held views on matters of faith’. It is important for members of your community or congregation to understand that they are invited and encouraged to bring the fullness of their own identity to the Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters campaign. This project is not about watering-down fundamental beliefs, values, and practices of individuals and communities, but about creating platforms and opportunities for people to learn from and about themselves and each other in safe and productive ways.

To explore multifaith programs and events in your area, please visit our interactive map: