Let me preface this by saying that I have nothing against Interfaith gatherings, in theory. I am a little shy of these events, in practice, because I am so used to being the “token-Jew” at what is actual an Ecumenical event.
So that is why I might have rolled my eyes when I read the title of this article. But give me some credit, I read the article despite my hesitation. And I actually cheered at my desk when I got to the end of this article from the HuffPo, 3 Reasons Interfaith Efforts Matter More Than Ever. Again, I have no problem with the idea of an Interfaith memorial service. However, I do not see the desired long-term gains being accomplished by making a perfunctory gesture toward the inclusion of members of minority groups.
Eboo Patel hits the nail on the head when he writes:
“An interfaith prayer service is only one place to see multiple traditions coming together to heal a community. Imagine how much interfaith cooperation there was in the operating rooms of Boston hospitals last week, where medical professionals of all faiths were working together to save lives and limbs.
These times require all of us to be interfaith leaders, to signal clearly that the worst elements of every tradition represent nobody. The murderers of all communities belong only to one community: the community of murderers. We have to expand our knowledge base of the various contributions diverse communities make to our nation and world, to bring into mutually enriching discussion not just people from different backgrounds but diverse identities within individuals.”
That is not to say that, despite my cynicism, we can’t gain some ground by coming together for an Interfaith memorial service. However, I think that Interfaith cooperation that happens unintentionally, outside of a religious service and out of the context of a national tragedy, can do more to foster harmony and fight discrimination than we credit.