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About Us

The Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS) advances interreligious dialogue and understanding in order to build bridges between people and communities.

Vision

An interreligious society in which dialogue replaces division, friendship overcomes fear, and education eradicates ignorance.

Mission

To dismantle religious bias and bigotry, ICJS builds learning communities where religious difference becomes a powerful force for good.

About the Logo

The three colorful marks in the logo suggest quotation marks. At ICJS, we read sacred texts together and invite people into vibrant conversations around religious difference. Quotation marks evoke both the acts of reading and dialogue—two hallmarks of the ICJS.

 

Each quotation mark is distinct, acknowledging the differences of the three religions. Yet the three marks do not stand in isolation, nor are they adversarial. Rather the marks appear to approach and engage each other in conversation. The white space between these three marks hints at a natural connection and speaks to the quiet and calm that the ICJS hopes to bring to the world through study, conversation and friendship.

 

By Ken Karpay, ICJS Past President and Emeritus Trustee

ICJS History

ICJS Values

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, May 2020

Difference

Religious difference is integral to life in the United States. Each religious tradition and community exists within a mosaic of cultural, historical, social, ethnic, and racial contexts. We believe engaging religious difference is necessary and transformative.

Equity

We engage religious difference in a society marred by inequities rooted in race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, abilities, socioeconomic status, and other differences. These inequities should have no influence on how we value each other. However, our religious traditions continue to be complicit in the perpetuation of these inequities, and interreligious dialogue often reflects them. We refuse to privilege any individual’s or community’s perspective or to interpret their experiences for them. We commit to fostering a culture of equity and inclusion in interreligious conversations.

Dialogue

Dialogue invites us to bring our commitments to each conversation and calls for patience, humility, curiosity, and courage. The outcome of dialogue does not require agreement, and meaningful relationships can exist even where there are irreconcilable differences. We believe that dialogue around religious difference deepens understanding and is an essential tool for connecting communities.

Learning

We use scholarly and educational resources to challenge religious bigotry and to confront the historical injustices that have divided our religious communities. Through the give-and-take of learning together, our understanding of ourselves and others expands through a process of encounter; translation; interpretation and/or misinterpretation; and clarification. We endeavor to create learning spaces where productive discomfort stretches us toward mutual discovery and deepens relationships.

Community

Responsible civic life requires more than tolerance and coexistence. It requires participation in community, respectful dialogue, mutual understanding, and flexibility with resources and positions. We build robust interreligious communities that interweave the civic, educational, and religious dimensions of our lives together.