Finding Common Ground: Today's Interfaith Movement
May be shown locally: 12/4/2011 - 1/29/2012

“FINDING COMMON GROUND: TODAY’S INTERFAITH MOVEMENT, AN INTERFAITH RELIGION SPECIAL, WILL BE BROADCAST SUNDAY, DEC. 4, 2011 ON THE CBS TELEVISION NETWORK

    FINDING COMMON GROUND: TODAY’S INTERFAITH MOVEMENT looks at how the interfaith movement has evolved over the years.

    The program visits with Rev. Dirk Ficca, Executive Director of the Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.  The Parliament hosts the world’s largest interreligious gathering, meeting every five years in a different part of the world. People of every faith are invited to share their religious identities, dialogue and voice their hopes and concerns for the future.

    One of the most interesting things about the modern interfaith movement, according to Rev. Ficca, is that cooperation among people of different faiths is more mainstream than ever. He says, “For me, it’s when a local imam and rabbi and Catholic priest in Downers Grove meet every Thursday for lunch and talk about how to get their three communities to know each other, and somehow replicating that all over the United States, all over the world. That’s where I put my hope.”

    We also hear from Dr. Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) based in Chicago, Ill. This nonprofit organization was founded in 2002, based on the idea that the most powerful common ground between all faith traditions is the inspiration to serve others. Dr. Patel and his organization are working with the youth of today as a means to thwart religious extremism and encourage interfaith understanding and leadership. “I think the world looks different,” Dr. Patel says, “if America’s college campuses become models of interfaith cooperation and graduate a critical mass of interfaith leaders.” 

    When the White House announced the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge in March of this year, IFYC worked as an advisor and partnered to craft the nationwide program. 

    One of the schools participating in the President’s challenge is Albright College, a private liberal arts school in Reading, Penn. Rev. Paul Clark, the school’s chaplain, will be shepherding the project with a group of interfaith student leaders.  He says, “If we can apply this kind of model of talking to one another, and then reaching out to the larger community, then something really important could happen here.”

    Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Reading, Penn. has the largest share of residents living in poverty per capita. In an effort to help the marginalized, the religious community of Reading has come together and worked in partnership to help alleviate the symptoms of poverty.  We hear from Rabbi Brian I. Michelson, Rabbi of Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom; Elsayed [Steve] Elmarzouky, President of the Islamic Center of Reading, and Michael J. Kaucher, Executive Director of the Reading Berks Conference of Churches, about how working together to serve their community has reinforced their belief in the need for interreligious dialogue and cooperation at the local level. 

    John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer.  FINDING COMMON GROUND is produced in cooperation with the National Council of Churches, Consortium of Roman Catholic organizations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Union of Reform Judaism and the New York Board of Rabbis.

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