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Season for Interfaith-Intercultural Celebration

Tips for Grassroots Interfaith Collaboration

1. Exclusivists, Inclusivists and Universalists: Perspectives to understand during dialogue

2. Interfaith Collaboration works through consensus. Like a jury, everyone has to be relatively comfortable with the outcome or the whole prospect can fall apart.

3. Respect is EVERYTHING!

4. Create an environment in which participants who have been excluded because of their faith will feel welcome and appreciated for their differences and diversity as well as their similarities.

5. Avoid being more political than religious. If the group is too liberal or too conservative politically, outsiders can dismiss it more easily. Balance and moderation keep Interfaith groups both together and productive.

6.  Rejoice in diversity!

7. Start small and build your reputation by being successful. Don’t be the group that the City Council dreads.

8.  Eat together, when possible. There’s something magical about prayer, but also about fellowship. Allow some of your meetings to be informal and fun, not about anything more than getting to know each other.

9.  Try having meetings at different religious sites, with a brief explanation of the faith from the host.

10. Create a newsletter.

11. Make friends with the media. Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the ton. Let the media know who you are, what your mission is and that you are available to answer questions on topics X, Y and Z.

12. Appoint a spokesperson for the group who is trained in media relations and have everyone refer media to the spokesperson.
a)  Stay on message, i.e., say what you do best.
b)  Don’t answer a question unrelated to your group – refer instead.
c)  Stay positive – ALWAYS!
d)  Never say “No comment.” Say, can I call you back, gather your thoughts and then call them back.
e)  Don’t be baited into saying something you don’t believe or wouldn’t say to your boss, mom, rabbi, etc.
f)   Nothing you say is “Off the Record.” If you say it, expect it to be printed or broadcast.
g)  Try not to say something that can be taken out of context, because something always is.
h)  Most of all – Stay on Message.

13. Land Mines for Interfaith Collaboration:
a)  Pork or no vegetarian alternatives
b)  Exclusive language
c)  Not being held, not being allowed to speak
d)  A participant’s faith being classified as minor, small, new, alternative, cult or sect
e)  Calling a participant’s faith by the wrong name. For example, Mohammedanism instead of Islam.

14. Have fun. Working with interfaith groups is the opportunity of a lifetime. You’ll learn more in 6 months than you did in your first year in college.