We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Tolerance in religion! Local opportunities.

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John Eyster
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tolerance in religion! Local opportunities.

BE SURE TO READ ANNA MARIE LUX’s “Between the Lines” feature starting on the front page of today’s Janesville Gazette, “Intro to Islam”! COMMENDATION to ANNA MARIE for this informative feature and to the Gazette for publishing this major feature starting on the FRONT PAGE!

E SURE TO READ ANNA MARIE LUX’s Tolerance in religion! Local opportunities.

BE SURE TO READ ANNA MARIE LUX’s “Between the Lines” feature starting on the front page of today’s Janesville Gazette, “Intro to Islam”! COMMENDATION to ANNA MARIE for this informative feature and to the Gazette for publishing this major feature starting on the FRONT PAGE!

The feature informs us about the SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY this coming THURSDAY, June 16, sponsored by the DIVERSITY ACTION TEAM OF ROCK COUNTY to visit the MUSLIM COMMUNITY CENTER, 5912 Darlene Drive, Rockford, IL, for an opportunity to visit the mosque in Rockford, IL.

Anna Marie Lux reports, “Shpendim Nadzaku is a welcoming man who invites people in Janesville to step outside their comfort zone.” Nadzaku is the Imam of the Rockford, IL area Muslim community. The Diversity Action Team of Rock County is inviting people to car pool to attend this event. Meet at 5:30 pm Thursday, June 16 at Nativity of Mary Parish, 313 Wall St., Janesville. For more details, see the box on the front page of today’s Gazette.

There is also going to be an interfaith event at Trinity Episcopal Church, 409 East Court St., Janesville at 6 pm on Sunday, June 25. Leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith will be participating in the Reading of the Torah, the Gospels and the Quran. This event is open to the public.

COMMENDATION to those who are stepping forward to provide opportunities to learn about one another’s faiths. I am convinced that each of our faiths teaches us to live in peace together. After all, the “Golden Rule” is at the core of each of the world religions, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

I have been following the work of Eboo Patel, a 35-year-old Muslim, who has been advocating interfaith understanding and tolerance. He is the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core. Use the link to learn more about this vibrant faith movement.

I read with interest and appreciation Laurie Goodstein’s New York Times article, “An Effort to Foster Tolerance in Religion.”

The gist of Patel’s movement is based on his observation, “…if Muslim radicals and extremists of other religions were recruiting young people, then those who believe in religious tolerance should also enlist the youth.” I agree with HIM! What is YOUR perspective?

As Laurie Goodstein reports, “Mr. Patel, who is Muslim, is not saying that his plan will solve all those conflicts, just that the focus should be on what he calls ‘the American project.’ Immigrants across the generations brought their faiths, their biases and their beefs and ‘built a new pattern of relationships’ over here, he said, pointing out that English Protestants and Irish Catholics eventually overcame their enmity on these shores.”

Interesting evaluation of Patel’s “Interfaith Youth Core,” articulated by Goodstein in her article, “There are many interfaith groups, but none like Mr. Patel’s, where youthful idealism and spiritual searching have been channeled by pro bono consultants from McKinsey & Company into strategic plans, templates and spreadsheets. The offices take up a whole floor in a handsomely renovated industrial building. On one end is a small prayer room. On the other is a bulletin board where the manager of foundation development tracks grant applications worth millions of dollars.”

“Youth Core” is a vibrant movement which by the end of the school year in June 2010 had trained 18 “interfaith fellows” who each recruited about 40 students on their campuses. By this June, the Youth Core had trained leaders on 97 campuses, who engaged an average of 100 students, for a total of 10,000 participants — more than 10 times over the previous year. The leaders are undergraduates, religious and nonreligious, who attended summer training sessions led by Youth Core staff members, and then returned to their campuses to organize interfaith events and community service projects using the upbeat slogan, “Better Together.”

I urge you to read Goodstein’s article for more information and perspective on the history and development of Patel’s “Youth Core”!

I think it is significant that Joshua DuBois, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said Mr. Patel, who served on the president’s religion advisory council, and the Youth Core staff were “critical early partners” in developing the new initiative.

Reference to DuBois' continues, “You have people who can cast a vision but then not implement the vision. Then you have people who are great implementers but are not very inspirational. Eboo is a unique leader who can do both.”

VERY INTERESTING & TELLING to read Goodwin's observation, "At night, when Mr. Patel comes home to his apartment, his year-old son, Khalil, is waiting at the glass door.

"Mr. Patel tries to live the philosophy that exposure to other religions enhances one’s own. He and his wife, Shehnaz Mansuri, a civil rights lawyer and a Sunni Muslim, have hired a South American nanny who sometimes recites the Lord’s Prayer to their two sons. They send their 4-year-old, Zayd, to a Roman Catholic preschool.

“'When Zayd talks about saints,' Mr. Patel said, 'I can tell him about imams.'"

COMMENDATION & THANKS to ANNA MARIE LUX and The Janesville Gazette for alerting us to our LOCAL opportunities to learn more about one another’s faiths! What is YOUR perspective?

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 10:50 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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