Making Real Change Together

An Interview with Eboo Patel

Next week, from November 11 to November 13, Patheos will cover the Global Faith Forum in Keller, Texas. The forum will bring together religious and intellectual leaders of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths, for a conversation on the different ideas and worldviews that animate these communities and lead to so many tensions and misunderstandings.

The meeting is convened by Pastor Bob Roberts Jr., a theologically conservative Baptist pastor who has pioneered a different way for Christians -- and especially evangelicals -- to relate to people of other faiths. It promises to be an extraordinary event, with speakers ranging from Os Guinness and Ed Stetzer and Mark Galli to Daniel Levy and Rabbi Jeremy Schneider to Eboo Patel, John Esposito, Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia and the Ambassador of Vietnam.

As the website for the event states,

The Global Faith Forum brings together distinct and conservative bodies of faith for greater understanding, while facing our differences with grace and humility. Muslims, Jews, and Christians hold different beliefs about who Jesus and God are. As people of faith, we must maintain our distinct beliefs, yet live in peace with others of faith. God calls followers of each faith to carry out the dialogue of our distinctions in a spirit of common dignity for one another. The multi-faith perspective is about deepening respect for one another while dialoguing about our differences. Participants are not asked to boil down their beliefs to define God in common terms but to hold to their distinctions with a spirit of respect between participants.

We thought it would be interesting to interview the participants and speakers in advance of the event, and we thank Eboo Patel -- founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, and a blogger at the Washington Post -- for responding to these questions:

Why do you believe the Global Faith Forum and projects like it are important?

Projects like the Global Faith Forum are critical to building bridges of understanding between diverse communities. Pastor Bob Roberts, the organizer, has done an incredible job as a model of this, working all over the world to develop relationships with Muslims and other religious groups One of the things I admire most about him is his willingness also to spread this message within his community -- he’s not afraid to speak up about the importance of interfaith cooperation and how his Christian values call him to build it. I’m thrilled to be part of his Global Faith Forum.

What do you hope will occur at the Forum?  What would be the ideal outcome?

One thing Pastor Bob always talks about is that in order to build interfaith cooperation, it’s not just dialogue that’s important -- it’s taking action together to strengthen our communities and solve real social problems. By working together across the lines of faith, we prove to the world that we are better together. The ideal outcome of this Forum is for the leaders who attend to build partnerships and commit to making real change together after it concludes. In my mind, the Forum is a kick-off to long-term work between the communities.  

See our interview with Pastor Bob Roberts for more information on the Global Faith Forum.