Interfaith leader calls for building bridges, not barriers between faiths

1308632PROVO, Utah — Eboo Patel wants to build bridges.

Not big steel structures that span bodies of water or deep, rugged canyons. No, Patel wants bridges between people of diverse religious faiths: Muslims and Jews. Christians and non-Christians. Mormons and Evangelicals. And don’t leave out the atheist and the secular humanists.

“Frankly interactions between people who orient differently around religion can turn into four things,” said Patel, founder of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, which works to foster interfaith work on college campuses. “It can turn into bubbles of isolation. It can turn in to barrier of division, where people emphasize their differences. It can turn into bombs of destruction. Or it can turn into bridges of cooperation.”

In a shrinking world, where diversity of culture and faith is more prolific in communities than ever, and where new democracies are rapidly emerging around the world, bridge building fosters understanding and creates civic cooperation and shared work for the common good, Patel told an audience of students and scholars at Brigham Young University on Tuesday night.