We’re living in an era of deep divisions. We have seen the devastating effects in our homes, our communities, our workplaces, and our houses of worship.
In this current contentious climate, many Americans have retreated from civic life or have responded to social conflict with calls for civility. But abstaining from civic life only cedes our public dialogue to the most polarizing voices. And too often, “civility” is misunderstood as the mere absence of argument, or politely ignoring our differences. Neither will make change for the better.
The key to addressing division and building pluralism in American life today isn’t to paper over divides. Rather, it’s to engage more constructively across differences. This is pluralism, or an understanding and respect for our differences, coupled with a mutual commitment toward to the common good.
Faith institutions and communities are one of the few places where people of varying age and worldview gather and exchange ideas in a localized manner. Many faith traditions hold sacred tenets about the importance of loving and engaging with those with whom we differ. We believe faith communities have an essential role in civic life — and in forging relationships across differences.