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The Diversity Of Your Faith Community

How can you learn about your community's diverse faith communities and expressions?

In New York City, a project called "A Journey Through NYC Religions" simply interviews members of the Big Apple's diverse religious landscape. Begun in 2010 by Tony Carnes, the project team has visited some 7,500 houses of worship and other religious sites. They interview, photograph, videotape, draw, and post their findings on their website.

"Carnes encourages his freelance reporters to practice a philosophy of journalism he calls 'sympathetic objectivity,'" notes correspondent Kim Lawton, in a 9 1/2-minute news video prepared for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a source for cutting-edge reporting and analysis at the intersection of faith and society. Sympathetic objectivity involves starting out with sympathetic listening and interaction, then moves on to objective interviewing, which includes asking a set of stock questions that make it easier to compare and contrast religious beliefs and practices.

At the heart of the project is the belief "that people don't have to give up their faith to relate to others. We want to say you can talk about your differences. You do things differently, and that's pretty interesting, and we want to show how interesting things are." The program also shows that "faith leaders are thought leaders just like Wall Street and the government; we are one section that influences thought and the direction of the city."

Carnes hopes that his group's documentation of the challenges, celebrations, and uniqueness of New York religion can be a model for the world; "they're not going to agree on everything, but to live with each other, value each other, to cherish each other and to say, well, in these areas where we do agree we can do something for the sake of the city, and if we can do that here in New York, then I think we actually have a paradigm that can work in Cairo, have a paradigm that can work in Mumbai."

For more on U.S. religious pluralism, read our feature article, "Meet Your Neighbors: Interfaith FACTs."

 

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