The President’s Committee on Interfaith Action at Claremont Lincoln University held its first meeting to discuss religious conflict, racism and a growing lack of civility and compassion in the world today. The recent meeting launched the development of ongoing relationships between leaders of various causes, all of whom are committed to taking part in a dialogue for collaboration and change.
“Interfaith work is actually dangerous work,” said committee chairwoman Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, who explained that difficult conversations need to take place in order to bring about peace.
Having spent years working with world leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro and many more, Campbell has seen first-hand the sacrifices made by others to bring about positive change for humanity.
“One of the problems with interfaith is that we want to make it look ‘nice.’ We want people to get along,” she said. “To take this on is extremely important, but it is also extremely challenging… Don’t forget the high cost other people have sacrificed for peace.”
Some of the nation’s most prominent interfaith leaders and social activists joined academicians and leaders of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other religious faiths to identify issues and develop ideas for action that can bring about change.
The power of religions working together for peace is compelling, said Paul Chavez, whose father, Cesar Chavez, reached out to different faith communities in the 1970s as a part of his campaign for worker’s rights.
“Interfaith work is always important,” Paul Chavez said.
The committee is comprised of more than 30 members representing a variety of faiths, cultures, races and beliefs. Some of the more prominent members include Dr. John Esposito, professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University; author and journalist Susan Katz Miller; Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the national nonprofit Interfaith Alliance; Chavez and many more.
CLU President Dr. Eileen Aranda helped to facilitate the meeting, encouraging everyone to speak from the heart on issues as they see them.
“At Claremont Lincoln we’re really about action,” she said. “The civil rights movement taught us that if you put people together, change can happen. We want to focus on those skills that allow people to do that. We are all here because we believe in that.”