Geoffrey Nelson-Blake (an Adventist minister and the director of interfaith Community Organizing Residency at Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice) and Sarah Jawaid (a Muslim community organizer) recently co-authored a Huffington Post article on the role of faith in social action--"Faith in Our Streets." The authors note what they believe are deficiencies in the Pew Research Center's recent report on America's diminishing religiosity. They report routinely encountering people "experiencing their faith outside the walls of a church, synagogue, or mosque. It's harder to quantify the role faith plays for people expressing their values through fighting for justice, but it's an important piece of the current puzzle of faith in America that we won't find in the Pew study."
To back up their claims, Geoff and Sarah present stories of social action.
Last fall, faith leaders joined ranks with peaceful protesters in Ferguson to demand justice for black lives and capture the stories of heartbreak and hope lost in the news. This past Hanukkah, Jews and Muslims demonstrated together in New York City to decry police brutality. An interfaith rally led by Pastor Jamal Bryant united the Baltimore faith community in hopes of healing after the death of Freddie Grey in police custody. These voices made an impact and the other week, President Obama announced banning military-grade weapons at local police departments.
The authors conclude by pointing out two expressions of faith-based activism--one that divides and one that unites. They share:
Too many people associate faith activism with those who abuse faith language to promote exclusionary and regressive policies. We saw that recently in the language used to promote Indiana's so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which promoted discrimination against the LGBT community. People in power often abuse faith to divide and keep communities separate from one another. However, as the American landscape of faith becomes more diverse -- racially, ethnically, and religiously -- we can expect to see more diversity in how faith is expressed and the impact it has -- personally, communally, and in our streets.
The entire article can be read here: "Faith in Our Streets" (Nelson-Blake and Jawaid, Huffington Post, June 2, 2015).
Featured Image Credit: By Fibonacci Blue from Minnesota, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.