Tag Archives: diversity

Interfaith Center at the Presidio

Celebrating (Religious) Freedom

Interfaith Center at the PresidioThe Fourth of July is a day in the United States for celebrating the freedoms we enjoy, not the least of which is freedom of religion. The US is frequently noted not only for the diversity of the religious practice of its citizens, but for the importance those citizens give to their faith and practice. Without an established national religion, people are challenged to choose for themselves what tradition they will practice (or not).

The picture is not so good in other parts of the world. The International Religious Freedom Report for 2012 released recently by the US Department of State, an annual report on the state of religious freedom around the globe, finds that governments limit and harass religious groups within their borders. Anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish statements and actions are increasing, and the report notes a correlation between religious repression and social unrest:

“Governments that repress freedom of religion and freedom of expression typically create a climate of intolerance and impunity that emboldens those who foment hatred and violence within society. Government policy that denies citizens the freedom to discuss, debate, practice, and pass on their faith as they see fit also undercuts society’s ability to counter and combat the biased and warped interpretations of religion that violent extremists propagate.”

As we celebrate our freedoms this Fourth, let’s be thankful for the religious freedoms we enjoy, and commit ourselves using that freedom for the benefit of all.

chapel entrance

From Diversity to Pluralism

Last month, Eboo Patel, founder and director of Interfaith Youth Core based in Chicago made a visit to Santa Clara University as part of the President’s Speakers Series. “Diversity is stunningly challenging,” Patel declared, suggesting that often we take it too much for granted. He pointed out that the United States was the first experiment in democracy that did not involve a homogeneous population, and that we struggle with diversity every day. In a land of many cultures, each individual’s culture becomes not a matter of fate, but a matter of choice.

Great for individuals; but not so great for communities. Diversity can be hard on social cohesion and “social capital,” the “glue” that holds a society together. Religious diversity in particular has the potential to spark conflict, as it implies deep differences around fundamental values. Any day in the world news, we hear about religious conflicts that have exploded into hostility and violence.

In this context of diversity, Patel called for a new generation of leaders who recognize that pluralism–  mutual respect and positive relationships among people who differ, and a commitment to the common good—is an achievement, not a given. Bridges between diverse groups “don’t drop from the sky,” he said. They are built by people trained, skilled, and committed to moving diversity towards pluralism.

“Always look for the resonances,” Patel challenged the audience. The greatest challenge is to identify that person or group with which you most profoundly disagree, and then look for something you can admire about them. “Diversity is holy,” he said, “and it is amazing what we can do together.”

MIC Religious Leaders Gathering

Racism/Implicit Bias

Most faith communities desire diversity, but many struggle to become inclusive. YWCA’s new Inclusion Inventory, bridges the critical gap between diversity and inclusion. Come network with other religious leaders, experience this new tool, and learn how you might use it to help your faith community become truly inclusive.

Facilitated by Laura Eberly, YWCA Community Organizer
Cost: Love Offering at the door
Please bring your lunch. MIC will provide light snacks.


Westminster Presbyterian Church
240 Tiburon Blvd.
Tiburon, CA 94920

Arms Around Fremont


Fremont takes pride in being one of the most diverse cities in America. While diversity is our city’s greatest strength, some members of our community have expressed feelings of vulnerability.

Come celebrate the diversity that makes our city great by joining the City of Fremont Human Relations Commission and the Fremont Unified School District Instructional Services Department along with your friends and neighbors at Lake Elizabeth to support all our diverse communities and take a stand against division, violence, and hatred.

Festivities and speakers will start at Picnic Area C, followed by a walk around Lake Elizabeth and a joining of hands to show our commitment to a secure and safe community for all Fremont community members.

Interfaith Gathering to say NO to Nazis and Extremists

The Network of Spiritual Progressives, Tikkun magazine and Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls invite interfaith and secular humanist individuals and organizations to join us this coming Saturday, August 26 at 3:00pm to create sacred space at the location where Neo-Nazis plan to rally the following day. Our goal is to provide a safe space for those who are concerned about the violence that may happen the next day when the right-wing extremists are scheduled to rally in that same location, do not want to be part of that scene, and do want to affirm our solidarity with those who will be nonviolently protesting the Nazis and other variants of fascism the next day. We will sanctify the location with our prayers and expressions of solidarity with all those who want a world of love and justice for all.

We will lead with some traditional Jewish prayers (in English and Hebrew) and invite other religious/spiritual communities and atheists and secular-humanists to bring prayers, songs, music, poetry, and anything else of beauty reflecting our values of love, justice, environmental sustainability, nonviolence and awe, wonder, and radical amazement at the grandeur and mystery of the universe. Please bring your own contributions to the program which will also include some reflections on long-range strategy for strengthening the progressive and love-and-justice-oriented forces in the U.S. This event will hopefully be a model for other events around the U.S. in the coming months as right-wing-extremists bring their message of hate to a wide variety of communities.

This gathering is not meant in any way to detract from the importance of those who will be assembling or demonstrating the next day for precisely what we seek also–a world without racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and religiophobia.

Putting Differences on the Table

In this divided social and political moment, space to practice compassionate dialogue is critical. This workshop is open to everyone and to learn to engage and connect across cultures.

Come for a chance to learn more about (and practice) the art of conversation, sharing stories, and exploring our differences in a respectful, authentic, and fun way.

Complimentary lunch from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. | Workshop from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. | Saturday, Dec. 9 | MCC Conference Room

RSVP requested at mcceb.org/conversations

In this divided social and political moment, spaces to practice compassionate dialogue are critical. MCC is teaming up with Civity to put on a workshop to help you examine (y)our stereotypes and judgements, and learn how to have difficult conversations across social, racial, and political differences.

This workshop is specifically focused on exploring social tensions and differences that fray communities in San Francisco Bay Area, such as income inequality, gentrification, and racial segregation. The workshop will be co-hosted by Civity and MCC East Bay.

Malka Kopell, Civity co-founder will be facilitating this workshop. She brings over 30 years of experience with facilitating collaborative, cross-sector civic engagement. She’s worked on a variety of issues, including neighborhood revitalization, water and air quality, transportation, youth development, and public health.

Free. Please RSVP so we can plan enough lunch at mcceb.org/conversations

About Civity:

Civity helps people harness social, political, and organizational diversity – not to ignore differences, but to work across differences. When we bridge divides, we are better able to address the collective problems that confront us. Learn more: www.civity.org

“Civity” is a culture of deliberately engaging in relationships of respect and empathy with others who are different.