WASHINGTON, March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Justice and Society Program at the Aspen Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core will host an invitation-only conference, America the Inclusive at the Institute's Washington, D.C. offices, on March 30.
Growing out of concern over the increasingly polarized conversation about religious diversity in the media and the public arena, the Conference will focus on the core American value of freedom of religious expression, and our long heritage of welcoming and including peoples of all faiths into the American experience. Models for youth and community organizations with a track record of success in building American identity from diverse cultural heritages, and innovative approaches that balance respect for religious identity with inclusion in the mainstream will also be addressed.
The Interfaith Youth Core, Aspen Institute's partner in this event is one such success story. Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is a Chicago-based non-profit organization that seeks to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. IFYC works to change the public discourse about religion from one of inevitable conflict to one of cooperation and religious pluralism; nurture and network a critical mass of emerging interfaith leaders; and partner with college campuses to become models of interfaith cooperation. This conference will look at building similar programs for young people not yet in college, and for families with young children, the two groups that bracket IFYC's core focus.
Founder and President of IFYC Eboo Patel says, "America is the first nation based on the idea that people from the four corners of the Earth can come together and build a country. We depend on the contributions of our various communities, and we are weakened when we exclude the contributions of any community. It wasn't that long ago that the institutions of Catholics and Jews were viewed with suspicion. We now realize just how central they are to our civil society. American Muslims contribute in a similar way today to our nation, and we need to extend that American ethic of welcome."
While the focus of the conference will be on the construction of robust community partnerships, the national security implications of integration will also be highlighted in the remarks of keynote speakers Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and Jane Harman, former chairman, House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Terrorism Risk Assessment, and current Director and President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
"The accelerating rate of bias-motivated incidents and strident rhetoric spotlights the need for new local and national conversations about religion and American democracy, conversations focused on community building and shared values," said Meryl Chertoff, director of the Justice and Society Program. "It will require not only tolerance for religious pluralism in the United States but also the forging of strong and durable interfaith relationships and the growth of respect for fellow Americans' religious identities. Government has a role to play in addressing these issues, but government is not equipped to deal with many of the challenges. Many of the solutions, therefore, must be private sector and community based."
The conference will be attended by representatives from government, community groups, foundations, and non-profit institutions. It will be livestreamed on the Aspen Institute website at www.aspeninstitute.org/live.
Funding was provided by the Carnegie Corporation and Martin L. Budd.
Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is a Chicago-based non-profit organization that seeks to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. IFYC works to change the public discourse about religion from one of inevitable conflict to one of cooperation and religious pluralism; nurture and network a critical mass of emerging interfaith leaders; and partner with college campuses to become models of interfaith cooperation. Since 2002, Interfaith Youth Core has worked on five continents and with over 200 college and university campuses, training thousands in the principles of interfaith leadership, and reaching millions through the media. For more information, visit www.ifyc.org.
The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, D.C.; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners.
Contact: Michael Green
SOURCE The Aspen Institute