An interfaith pursuit of values fostered by religion
to sustain a free, pluralistic society.
Situation: In recent years, with a widening polarization of the political parties in the United States and elsewhere, there has been an alarming decline of respectful civil discourse. As a nation, we seem to have forgotten the importance of cultivating behaviors and qualities that are required for a democratic society to function properly.
In the face of increasing violence and fearful, often hateful, rhetoric, what might help us move beyond a natural fear reaction to a conscious response based on principles we choose to live by? Are there ideals that people of faith living in America can strive toward together? During this time of challenge and uncertainty, are there shared values upon which we can stand together?
Great teachers of humanity, as well as the sacred writings from all major religions, encourage people to develop and express qualities that are beneficial for themselves, their families and their society. For a democracy to function properly, its citizens must be informed and share a sense of human dignity and concern for the well-being of others. What role can religion play in fostering these and other desirable human qualities?
Standing Together is an interfaith study and dialogue program that focuses on founding principles of the US in light of the teachings of leading religious scholars. It explores the guidance of sacred texts and the advice of great minds regarding how human beings should live, think, act and BE in the world, if they wish to experience inner peace and be responsible members of the human family. Standing Together promotes self-awareness, social responsibility and a deepening commitment to embody the core wisdom of one’s own faith. It also encourages participants to revitalize their commitment to the ideals and values upon which America was built.
Objectives: By means of an interfaith panel, scriptural reflection, and small group discussion, this program seeks to foster greater understanding, respect and cooperative social action among citizens from different faith traditions. It is designed to:
- Tap into what is potentially ‘right’ with people, with religion, and with democratic values
- Explore the positive influence faith can have on individuals and a democratic society
- Increase appreciation for the relevance of sacred teachings in modern life
- Encourage genuine interfaith friendships and cooperative social action
Sponsored by Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) and The Church Council of Greater Seattle. Endorsed by Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Pacifica Institute, Seattle Univ. School of Theology & Ministry, Bear Creek Methodist, Congregation Kol Ami, Kadima Reconstructionist Jewish Community, Faith Action Network (FAN), and Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
A properly functioning democracy requires leaders and citizens to pursue lives of integrity and a commitment to a common good.
2016 Focal Topics & Dates
All sessions are free and intended to build upon each other. Sessions take place in both Seattle and on the Eastside. RSVP for each individual session, or go here to RSVP for the series (Eastside). To RSVP for the Seattle series, go here.
Note: All Eastside events occur on Sundays from 4–6 pm. All Seattle events occur on Mondays from 7–9 pm.
Session One: Democratic Values, Religion & Personal Fulfillment
RIGHTEOUSNESS: Core teachings from major religions promote the same human qualities that are needed to sustain a well functioning democratic society. In addition, sacred texts and renowned religious scholars both claim that virtuous character and righteous actions are stepping-stones to lasting human happiness.
Session Two: Yesterday’s Wisdom: Today’s World
KNOWLEDGE: Pivotal religious scholars in the three Abrahamic traditions emphasize the critical role that knowledge plays in maintaining both a just society and personal satisfaction.
Eastside—Sun., Feb. 21, 2016: At Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), 17550 NE 67th Ct, Redmond, WA 98052.
Seattle—Mon., March 7, 2016: Queen Anne United Methodist Church/The Well 1606 5th Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119
Session Three: Ideals & Virtues: Too Much of a Good Thing?
BALANCE: The last 2,500 years have produced few lasting examples of individuals or governments that have heeded Aristotle’s advice about the need for moderation in all things. Today is no exception. Balance is needed in the pursuit of ideals, virtues and all that is perceived as good. For example, mercy tempers justice, as knowledge or wisdom can guide the expression of courage in honorable ways.
Eastside—Sun., March 20, 2016: At Newport Presbyterian, 4010 120th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98006
Session Four: The Heart of Religion & Democracy
RESPECT/TRUST: Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and the Qur’an call followers to develop hearts that understand (the message reflected by the words), eyes that can see (the truth behind the words), and ears that can hear (the wisdom being conveyed). The scriptural heart, therefore, is a site of understanding of the divine messages regarding intangible realms such as justice, mercy, human dignity, responsibility, courage, etc. A successful democracy requires leaders and citizens to embody such intangibles.
Eastside—Sun., April 24, 2016: At Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 3850 156th Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98006
Seattle—Mon., May 2, 2016: At Kol HaNeshamah Synagogue, 6115 SW Hinds St., Seattle
Session Five: Human Family Values & the Work Ahead
COMMITMENT: As concerned citizens of a democracy facing serious issues, we have work to do. How do we seek to live into the future? Can you describe what you feel called to ‘do’ and ‘be,’ to more fully live the deep call of your faith within a modern democracy?
Eastside—Sun., May 22, 2016: At Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), 17550 NE 67th Ct, Redmond, WA 98052
Seattle—Mon., June 6, 2016: Location to be determined
Format: Sunday, 4–6 PM
4:00 Welcome, Prayer, Overview
5:15 Small Group Reflection
Takeaways and Closing Prayer
6:00 Tea & Conversation (optional)