Enough with Preaching to the Choir: How to Get Out the Message of the Interfaith Movement To a Wider Audience

The next dialogue of the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society of Washington will be held on Sunday, May 15th from 2:30-5:00 p.m. and will be hosted by the International Cultural Center (ICC), 19650 Club House Rd., Montgomery Village, MD 20886.  This event is co-sponsored by the ICC and by the World Organization for Research Development and Education (WORDE).

The topic of the May 15th dialogue is arguably the most important subject that we can possibly address: “Enough with Preaching to the Choir:  How to Get Out the Message of the Interfaith Movement To a Wider Audience.”   Anyone who has been involved in interfaith work knows just how centrally important this topic is.   I’m sure we’d all agree that inter-cultural/interfaith work is among the best antidotes to the polarization, insularity and ignorance that are degrading our world, but this antidote can only be effective if we stop preaching to choirs and broaden the appeal of our message.  The question is — how can we make that happen?  How can we attract the mainstream of our respective faith communities without dumbing down or otherwise compromising the content of our encounters?

To help lead us on May 15th, we will have three excellent panelists.

       Imam Mohamed Magid is the senior Imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), the largest mosque in the Washington, D.C. area and one of the largest in the nation.  Imam Magid has served as the President of the Islamic Society of North American and is a tireless activist when it comes to the interfaith movement.   He has co-authored a number of books and has led training workshops for imams and other religious leaders domestically and abroad.  Among his many honors, he was named the Washingtonian of the Year by Fairfax County in 2009.
       Dani Laurence is a co-founder of “I Am Your Protector,” an organization devoted to speaking and standing up for the “other,” meaning those whose religion, race, gender or beliefs are different from one’s own.  Born in Switzerland as a political refugee from Hungary, Dani has lived in the Middle East, Europe and now the United States.  She, too, is an interfaith activist and has devoted a substantial amount of effort to Jewish-Islamic encounters.  Dani’s past work includes organizing an international conference, creating multiple NGOs, and initiating a documentary film for French television.
       Mehreen Farooq is a Senior Fellow at WORDE whose expertise includes countering violent extremism, Muslim community engagement, and grass-roots community development.  She has led fieldwork across 80 cities and villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan and is now researching the ability of religious actors in Egypt to counter extremist narratives in that country and abroad.  Mehreen regularly advises government officials on engaging Muslim communities throughout the world and is working on developing a manual for US policymakers to engage communities in preventing violent extremism.