Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters Program

A moment of interfaith dialogue from a Muslim-Jewish Halaqa-Seder dinner
 

We find ourselves in a moment where we are deeply polarized as a nation by divides—cultural, religious, political--that impact our communities and even our families. At this critical juncture in our history, we want to advocate a simple model for effecting social change: working at the grassroots level in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, houses of worship, and civic organizations to model the civility and respect we want to see upheld by everyone.

This is why Islamic Networks Group has launched the Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters Program with simple yet impactful tools and resources for reaching out to build mutual understanding and respect among all our fellow Americans. Studies show that all you need is a ten-minute non-confrontational encounter with a person from a different background to dispel stereotyping and prejudice. We believe that if enough Americans join our campaign by participating in one or two simple actions of mutual encounter, we can strengthen our communities, foster relations among all Americans, and live up to our national ideal of being one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

We invite you to participate in this effort by using the suggestions and resources on this webpage for individual, community, and youth actions. By building bridges across our current divides we can build the community and nation that we all want to live in.    

What is the Know Your Neighbor Program?

Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters is a national grassroots program that is the outgrowth of a coalition of around 20 organizations that was launched at the White House in December, 2015 to work on policy concerning civil rights. Founded on American values of religious freedom and pluralism and of diversity and inclusion and motivated by a desire to effect social change at the grassroots level through community engagement, the Know Your Neighbor: Multifaith Encounters program was created to promote understanding and mutual respect among Americans of diverse religious and ethical traditions. It has grown into a collaborative effort of nearly a hundred national and regional organizations and groups with diverse missions and objectives who work together on campaigns that push back against bigotry and discrimination while promoting civil dialogue across differences, building relationships and peaceful communities, and advancing human rights and justice.

See this page to learn how to join the Know Your Neighbor program as an organization and go here to get a closer look at our current program partners and the current campaign. You can also get caught up on past campaigns, newsletters, and webinars on interfaith best practices.  

Sign up for the Know Your Neighbor Program

 

Individuals:

Have a quick conversation with someone – 5 minutes or less

  1.  Check out Civity's guides to engaging in dialogue across differences
  2. Have a quick conversation with someone you see at the gas station or while waiting in line at the grocery store. Ask them questions to build understanding, but do not be rude or invasive
  3. Euphrates Institute has this resource for dialogue with those holding different viewpoints: Communication Guidelines--Circle of Trust

Go out for a coffee break with a neighbor or co-worker or talk to your neighbor while sitting on a plane – 20 minutes or less

  1. Invite your neighbor or coworker to coffee and have a chat with some guided conversation topics or strike up a conversation on the plane
  2.  Check out Civity's guides to engaging in dialogue across differences
  3. Euphrates Institute has this resource for dialogue with those holding different viewpoints: Communication Guidelines--Circle of Trust
  4. For other ideas on questions to ask your neighbor visit Lifehack: 45 Questions To Ask To Get To Know Someone

Invite people to your home to share a meal

  1. Invite people whom you know little about into your home or to a safe space over good food to get to know them and engage in dialogue. Make it potluck, a barbecue or just cook an easy meal yourself

Invite friends or neighbors to your house of worship or community center

  1. Invite friends or neighbors to a special event or religious service to observe how your faith or ethical tradition conducts communal gatherings. Be sure to inform administrators about their attendance and make sure your community or place of worship is ready to welcome visitors
  2. Before the event make sure that you share relevant guidelines on how to dress, behave, and respect specific protocols at various events and houses of worship and give examples of what different services look like
  3. Can’t attend a faith service? Look at Spokane Interfaith Council's video series on various houses of worship called “Meet the Neighbors”

Attend an event hosted by a community that you are not familiar with

  1. Check out the Know Your Neighbor map to find local events like Iftar (breaking the fast) dinners and interfaith gatherings
    • Find a United Religions Initiative cooperation circle in your area
    • Our partner organization Se7enfast is a great resource for finding interfaith iftars (Muslim Ramadan fast-breaking dinner) and events in your area
    • You can find events to participate in your area hosted by the One America Movement by using this form
  2. If there are none in your area, host your own; here are some guidelines for organizing interfaith events and groups

Complete a quiz and questionnaire to reflect upon your own beliefs

  1. Take our clever quiz or send it to a friend or family member
  2. Take this questionnaire about your faith, beliefs, ideology, self-perception, and some creative questions that would make for great discussion in a group. Use it to create a space for personal reflection

Increase your impact by sharing your story with others on social media

  1. You can increase your positive impact on your neighbors and nation by sharing on social media
  2. Try downloading and using our partner organization Interfaith Youth Core's Frameworks for Interfaith Conversations

Write a letter to someone who identifies with a different religious identity than your own

  1. Send holiday greetings to your local faith communities
    •  You can download and write your own message using our postcard: KYN: ME Postcard
  2. If a local house of worship in your area has been the target of a hate crime, send them a note or flowers, bring them cookies or find other ways to demonstrate your support
    • You can download and write your own message using our postcard: KYN: ME Postcard
    • An example of what to say to a targeted house of worship: “We want to offer our hands in solidarity to you in the face of this ugly act of hate. We extend our support to your house of worship and all its congregants. Let us know what we can do to help. We hold you in our hearts and prayers.”
    • Stay up to date on hate crimes against groups like Muslims though Muslim Advocates or against Sikhs through The Sikh Coalition

Other ways to reach out to your neighbor

  1. Bring your neighbor a dessert or special food on your holiday or give them a small gift such as a potted flower to plant, but make sure this gift is culturally sensitive
  2. Send your neighbor or coworker a postcard, you can download and write your own message using our postcard: KYN: ME Postcard
  3. Invite a co-worker or neighbor to an activity you both enjoy such as to play a board game, join you at a pottery class, go bowling, attend a sporting event, go for a hike, etc
  4. Volunteer to serve on an interfaith council
  5. Join an interfaith book club

Communities:

Encourage your community members to invite their friends and family to attend a worship service or community event

Practical Tips for Inviting People to Join a Scheduled Worship Service

  1. Check out our guidelines on how to invite those of other traditions to attend a worship service or community event: Tips For Inviting Others To Your House Of Worship
  2.  We want to briefly note that places of worship have services at different times of the day and week. As a guide:
    • Islam: Jummah prayers are typically held between at lunchtime on a Friday. If the community is large, there may be two services, one after the other
    • Judaism: Shabbat services may be held on Friday night or Saturday morning, depending on the denomination
    • Christianity: Church worship services take place at various times on a Sunday, typically in the morning and sometimes in the early evening. Some churches have Saturday evening services also
    • Hinduism: Many Hindu communities do not have congregational services on a particular day of the week, but rather encourage individual practice throughout the week, with communal services to mark special celebrations and events at various times of the year
    • Sikhism: Similarly, many Sikh communities encourage individual practice throughout the week rather than communal worship on a particular day. Nonetheless, many Gurdwaras have highest attendance on Sunday
    • Buddhism: Different Buddhist denominations have different schedules of practice. Many American Buddhist communities have communal services on Sunday

Host an interfaith film screening

  1. “Waking in Oak Creek” is a movie on Sikhs and police from Not in Our Town
  2. “20,000 Dialogues” is a program providing several quality films about Islam and Muslims from Unity Productions Foundation
  3. "The Sultan and the Saint" is a historical documentary with live action portions from Unity Productions Foundation that examines the relationship between Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt during the Crusades. Visit the website to find screenings in your area or to set one up

Find other interfaith film screenings in your area by visiting The Seventh Art Stand

Organize a book club around a piece of fiction or non-fiction which explores some aspects of faith, values, culture, or identity

  1. Read and discuss The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner, which explores the story of three women who are practitioners of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and their journey towards  dialogue, understanding, and friendship
  2. Read and discuss The Witness of Religion in an Age of Fear by Michael Kinnamon
  3. Read and discuss Of Strangers & Enemies: A Pathway to Peace for Jews, Christians, and Muslims by John Robert Eagan. It is free to download here
  4. You can always look at the The Daughters of Abraham's recommended reading list as well and use that to create your own reading list

Invite your community to be a part of this campaign

  1. Invite community members to sign up for this campaign as an Individual. Encourage them to sign up for emails and participate in the tasks discussed about in the "Individual" section
  2. Join the KYN movement which will provide you with resources and share interfaith events
  3. If you are a leader within your community and would like to encourage community members to participate in our Share Your Story: Social Media Campaign you can do so by using our Know Your Neighbor (KYN) Summer Campaign Talking Points for a Sermon which demonstrates how to share the value of interfaith engagement and ways to participate in this campaign.

Organize a multifaith prayer service or community event

Increasingly faith communities are including multifaith prayers to their services as a way to be more inclusive and to celebrate the rich diversity of our communities. The following are useful resources of organizing multifaith prayer gathering or service

  1. Scarboro Missions offers a guide to designing a multifaith prayer service
  2. The United Religions Initiative has a guide for a candle lighting service
  3. The United Religions Initiative has a collection of multifaith prayers

Hold a community interfaith event

  1. Organize a "Meet a Muslim" event
  2. Start a "pulpit exchange", where clergy or another representative from one community speaks to another community outside their tradition, and subsequently have a representative from the other community speak to their group
  3. Create an Interfaith Speakers Bureau in your area
  4. For Jewish and Muslim groups wishing to engage in dialogue visit Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism's program Children of Abraham
  5. For Christian and Jewish groups wishing to engage in conversation visit Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism's program Open Doors Open Minds
  6. Celebrate the significance and commonalities of certain holidays
    • Host a Muslim-Jewish Halaqa-Seder, which examines the Exodus story in Muslim and Jewish holy texts over dinner
    • Host a Mary/Maryam event where Christians and Muslims study scripture relating to the Virgin Mary from each other’s traditions over dinner. Email Kate Chance for more information

Organize a social gathering centered around foods from different countries and cultures

  1. Celebrate the diversity of your community while savoring a diversity of cuisines! Invite local faith and values-based communities, congregations, or organizations to a potluck with ethnic dishes. Ask contributors to include ingredients and even recipes! To spice up the event ask attendees to collaborate on a public art project such as a poster, a mural or participate in an open mic or spoken word poetry event
  2. Organize a picnic in a park or public space and invite local faith and ethical communities to participate. Make it potluck or a barbecue where a small fee is charged to cover costs. Include family-friendly sports and games, or simply get together to meet and talk
  3. Celebrate the significance and commonalities of certain holidays
    • Host a Muslim-Jewish Halaqa-Seder, which examines the Exodus story in Muslim and Jewish holy texts over dinner
    • Host a Mary/Maryam event where Christians and Muslims study scripture relating to the Virgin Mary from each other’s traditions over dinner. Email Kate Chance for more information

Create a day of service with other communities

  1.  The One America Movement brings people together across religious, racial and political divides to participate in a community service project together, have a meal together and have a conversation. You can find or help create service events to participate in your area through by using this form
  2. The United Religions Initiative has a kit detailing how to host a community-wide day of service

Encourage other communities to join the Know Your Neighbor Campaign with you

  1. Reach out to local organizations and invite them to participate in this campaign with you
    1. If you don't know of local interfaith organizations you can find them by:
      1. Visiting our interactive map
      2. Find a United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circle in your area

Youth:


What can young people do to get involved with the Know Your Neighbor Program? Click the image above or the links below to find two youth challenges that contain a bunch of simple things you can do to make the world a better place. The first is the Know Your Neighbor: Summer Youth Challenge, which is open to all ages, with parental approval. The second campaign is for high school students and is the Know Your Neighbor: Bridge Builder Certification Program

 

Know Your Neighbor Social Media Posts and Graphics:

Here are templates and graphics for posting on social media about the Know Your Neighbor Campaign:

Tweets:

  • Our diverse religious and ethical values look just like American values. Commit to Know Your Neighbor: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Knowing your neighbors isn’t a conservative or liberal agenda. It’s America at its best. Join us: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Want to build a more perfect union? Here’s toolkits, tipsheets, and guides for getting to Know Your Neighbor: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Do you feel like resisting political polarization in America? Start here with Know Your Neighbor: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Check out our guide on inviting people to your house of worship. It's time to get to Know Your Neighbor: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Not familiar with your local minority religious community? Learn how to meet them with Know Your Neighbor: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Do you feel alone doing interfaith work? The Know Your Neighbor program can help. Get connected: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Looking for interfaith resources? We have them. Many of them. Check it out at the Know Your Neighbor program: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Stand up against all forms of hatred and bigotry before they start. Join the Know Your Neighbor program: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • I am a [religious/ethical affiliation], and I believe that people of all faiths & cultures belong in America: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Our communities are stronger and safer when we know our neighbors. Join the Know Your Neighbor program: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN

Longer posts for Facebook:

  • The #KYN coalition has over 70 members offering free interfaith resources from community organizing to dialogue to shared action. Get them here: www.ing.org/kyn
  • We find ourselves in a moment where we are deeply polarized as a nation — a divide that impacts our communities and even families. At this critical juncture in our history we want to advocate a simple model for affecting national change: working at the grassroots level in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, houses of worship, and civic organizations to model the civility and respect we want to see upheld by everyone. We want us all to #KYN. www.ing.org/kyn
  • Millions of Americans fiercely reject the idea that we are a hopelessly divided nation, but that doesn't mean that we can sit back and ignore the very real problems facing public dialogue these days. That's why over seventy religious and ethical organizations across the country are calling us all to #KYN through simple interactions like dinners and coffee conversations. Learn more: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN
  • Social science research proves that even a 10-minute conversation with someone from a different political, religious, or sexual orientation can drastically improve perceptions of that group. It's never been more important to Know Your Neighbor: www.ing.org/kyn #KYN

Social media graphics: