President Obama's Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has an "interreligious dialogue and cooperation" task force that includes a female Hindu priest, an Orthodox Jewish layman, a female Muslim pollster, a nondenominational evangelical Christian pastor, a pastor and black civil rights leader, and a Muslim youth worker.
UPDATE 4/6/10: Can America export 'interfaith model' to secularized Europe?
-- From "Interfaith movement gains new strength" by Julia Duin, Washington Times 4/5/10
Not since 1950, when the National Council of Churches was founded, has this much energy been aimed toward alliances across religious barriers.
Some say the lessening of fervor among evangelicals — the Southern Baptists, for instance, have been losing members several years in a row — is responsible.
Many point out that it's not American Christians but minority religious groups — Muslims, Mormons and Jews — who are providing the energy and creativity for this movement.
One of the newest interfaith initiatives is the annual "twinning" of synagogues and mosques, an effort sponsored by the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding to build bonds between Jews and Muslims. About 100 mosques and synagogues in North America and Europe "twinned" in November, double the amount that participated in the first Weekend of Twinning in 2008.
Evangelical Christians have been more resistant to interfaith dialogue but are slowly climbing on the bandwagon, especially with Muslims. Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., has had three such evangelical Christian-Muslim dialogues. The last one, an April 2009 gathering, attracted 30 scholars.
In August, the Rev. Brian McLaren, founder of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville and a leader in the "emergent church" movement among evangelicals, announced on his blog that he and some friends would fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan.
Sometimes evangelicals and Muslims come together for a common cause, as happened in September when about 3,000 Muslims showed up on the Mall just west of the Capitol for a Friday afternoon prayer rally. While most evangelical outlets disparaged or ignored the gathering, the National Clergy Council, the Richmond-based Hillside Missions and the Christian Defense Coalition teamed up for a news conference to celebrate it.
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