I recently had an exchange with someone who was concerned about my approach to interfaith work.
As the executive director of SpokaneFāVS, my job is more than religion reporting. Through our journalism, commentary and the FāVS Center (our 1-year-old faith and nonfaith community center), our goal is to foster community dialogue and educate people about the beliefs that make up this great city.
One of the glorious things about Spokane is its religious diversity. Besides hundreds of Christian churches, we have two Sikh gudwaras, and strong Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i and Hindu communities – to name a few. We also have an increasing number of atheists, agnostics and nones (those with no affiliation).
To me, interfaith work means bringing all those voices to the table.
The term ‘interfaith,’ though, has become loaded because many seem to associate it only with progressives.
And that’s where the above-mentioned exchange comes in. This person couldn’t understand why we would have conservatives and/or Evangelicals sitting at our table – people who saw LGBT issues and Black Lives Matter differently than them.
On the flip side, I’ve also had people question why we have atheist writers. My argument to them is the same.
I reminded them that interfaith work (or faith and nonfaith, as I prefer) can’t be exclusive. We can’t preach inclusivity, and then leave groups out who have different views from us. (Extremists would be the exception).
FāVS has worked hard to become a gathering place for all beliefs, which of course means not everyone sees eye to eye.
And I think that’s wonderful.