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15 diverse civil rights and faith-based organizations participate in White House event and pledge to work together to reinvigorate American traditions of inclusion, freedom and cooperation among those with different beliefs
December 17, 2015, Washington, D.C. – Today, a coalition of nonprofit organizations with unique perspectives on the place of religion in public life launched an innovative project titled “Know Your Neighbor” (KYN) and participated in a White House convening on religious pluralism.
The Know Your Neighbor project, created by a young Sikh man named Gurwin Singh Ahuja concerned about his own community’s challenges, calls on all Americans to share their own beliefs as well as understand and respect those of others.
The coalition is rooted in the belief that America’s strength comes from its diverse heritage. “We are a nation of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, non-religious people, and more – we live and work together and we need to have faith in each other,” said Ahuja, who is also the co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign.
Developed after extensive research, Know Your Neighbor seeks to protect and strengthen the fabric of one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world by acknowledging that our strength is derived from understanding and collaborating with each other.
“Americans generally believe that minority religions are an important part of their communities,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “Most critically, familiarity breeds tolerance and even acceptance. Negative attitudes tend to decline as people interact more with members of lesser-known religions.”
The coalition also seeks to address the recent uptick in hateful rhetoric against religious minorities, which has led to increased discrimination, mistrust, and violence. Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, a Muslim woman residing in New York whose community was recently threatened, noticed how this affects everyone. “The rise in anti-Muslim sentiment has created a dangerous environment for all worshippers — not just Muslims,” she said. “This reality is why a coordinated interfaith effort to address this hostility is necessary. Our global community must support and patronize these efforts and provide resources to further these relationships.”
The Know Your Neighbor coalition members:
ACLU, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Center for Inquiry, Hindu American Seva Communities, Interfaith Alliance, Interfaith Youth Core, Islamic Networks Group (ING), Muslim Advocates, National Council of Churches, National Sikh Campaign, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Religions for Peace USA, The Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, and Sikh Coalition.
About Know Your Neighbor
Know Your Neighbor (KYN) intends to foster a nationwide dialogue on the country’s religious diversity and general awareness of faith traditions. This coalition believes that such a dialogue is desperately needed to reduce religious tensions and maximize the strength of our nation’s diverse heritage. All Americans are encouraged to sign the organization’s pledge:
Our strength as a nation comes from the ability to hold true to our own faith and values while defending the religious freedom of our neighbors. I pledge to get to know my fellow Americans of all traditions and systems of belief and to share my own. Moreover, I will speak out against hatred and misinformation against others when I encounter it.
For more information, please visit: www.knowyourneighbor.us
Follow KYN on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/Know-Your-Neighbor-1628339154105932/