If you’ve ever had an eye exam, you’ve no doubt had the disorienting experience of having the doctor flip through a series of lenses, some blurry and disorienting, others better, until the right one clicks into place and you see the world anew. Interreligious encounters often provide a similar experience. Looking at life through a neighbor’s religious worldview can be like looking through a series of lenses. Some make things look fuzzy, while others provide a clearer perspective.
But if we take a risk and open ourselves to new perspectives—new lenses on our shared life—we will see new places where creative community growth can happen. We will have the opportunity to express our own beliefs and values with others, as well as bring the best of our religious traditions to the task of addressing common problems, allowing others to see the world through our eyes.
An interreligious lens is for all of us—for believers and nonbelievers alike; for those who regularly preach, teach, and lead sacred services as well as those who worship quietly in the back of the sanctuary; for those who find holiness and meaning in community service and aid to others; for teachers and students in all kinds of classrooms; for neighbors and for strangers. For you and for me. All of us have ethics that shape our actions and worldviews that give us meaning. All of us have dehumanizing blindspots of religious bias and bigotry, which prevent us from fully seeing our neighbors.
That is why ICJS works to share the benefits of an interreligious lens with several audiences:
▪ the general public
▪ congregational leaders
▪ clergy, chaplains, and religious leaders
▪ civic and nonprofit leaders
▪ seminary students and
▪ higher education faculty
If we want to create a multireligious democracy where people of all religions—including no religion—can flourish, we need to be able to see the world, and one another, with an interreligious lens.
Heather Miller Rubens, Ph.D., Executive Director and Roman Catholic Scholar
Irfan Malik, President, Board of Trustees
A Note of Gratitude from Heather:
I would like to express my gratitude to Irfan Malik as he completes his term as ICJS Board President. Irfan stepped into leadership in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic moved us all into our homes and moved ICJS online. Yet thanks in no small part to Irfan’s partnership and guidance over the past three years, ICJS is a stronger organization, better positioned to make our vision of the interreligious society come to life.