This Week in Interfaith America: A News Roundup

Dave Ley, co-owner of Exoticars, an auto restoration shop specializing in classic vehicles, pulls a restored statue of the Buddha outside in McCandless, Pa., on Monday. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

The Interfaith America team led a writing workshop this week with a religiously diverse cohort of undergraduates participating in the Building Interfaith Leadership Institute.  The workshop focused on cultivating a public voice in digital spaces, and my colleague Silma Suba shared a favorite, timeless quote from Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Every week, we look for untold stories about religion and spirituality – especially ones that show people working together across faiths and philosophical worldviews. We found plenty of those this week, including several that focus on climate change, indigenous communities and racial equity.

Have a comment or an idea for next week’s roundup? We’d love to hear from you. Email us here.

As She Lay Dying: A Letter to a Motherless Child. The Rev. Jen Bailey, founder of an innovative program that brings a spiritual touch to social justice work, led a round table conversation this week with four inspiring and innovative leaders: Harmeet Kaur Kamboj, Maya Williams, Mia Willis, and Byron Tyler Coles. This piece features an excerpt from her new book, “To My Beloveds: Letters on Faith, Race, Loss and Radical Hope.” In the final months of her mother's life, Bailey says she found that "writing became a sanctuary for me when words failed to take shape in my mouth."

Indigenous and Faith Leaders Urge Procter & Gamble to End Logging of Old-Growth Forests. In the first published piece by an IFYC/RNS Journalism Fellow, Diana Kruzman reports that faith-based activists who met at protests against oil pipelines are joining forces to fight deforestation in the manufacture of products like toilet paper and shampoo. "We are connected spiritually," one activist said.

What Indigenous Land Defenders at COP26 Want. In this piece for Teen Vogue, Maia Wikler interviewed four Indigenous activists fighting for climate justice. She writes: “As COP26, the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, wraps up this week, it is clear that the voices of those most impacted by climate change—especially Indigenous communities—are often ignored or silenced.”

Indigenous Activists are United in a Cause and are Making Themselves Heard at COP26. For NPR News, Ari Shapiro, Ashley Brown, Noah Caldwell and Mia Venkat report from the climate summit in Glasgow, bringing us the voices of young Indigenous activists from around the world. “It was deeply difficult and extractive and tokenizing to be here,” says native Dena'ina Athabascan Ruth Miller of Anchorage, Alaska.

Paul Hawken on Helping Our Planet Heal Itself. In this interview featured in Tricycle, A Buddhist Review, Buddhist climate activist Paul Hawken reflects on the spirituality behind his activism. “I often refer to the Wendell Berry quote, ‘Be joyful, though you’ve considered all the facts.’ We have so many facts to consider,” Hawken says. “We can choose to despair, or we can choose to be joyful and see this life as a gift, as an offering.” The full interview is available on Tricycle’s podcast.

The Rev. Emil Kapaun celebrates Mass in Korea in October 1950. The legendary military chaplain is credited with saving hundreds of soldiers during the Korean War. (Photo by U.S. Army Col. Raymond A. Skeehan/courtesy of the Father Kapaun Guild

@BlackLiturgies Expresses the Sacred Truth of Black Life. For Sojourners, Jeania Ree V. Moore -- a United Methodist deacon and doctoral student in religious studies and African American studies at Yale University – writes about Cole Arthur Riley’s viral social media account. It’s described as a “space where Black spiritual words live in dignity, lament, rage, and liberation to the glory of God.”

This Tribe Helped the Pilgrims Survive for Their First Thanksgiving. They Still Regret it 400 Years Later. Washington Post reporter Dana Hedgpeth is a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe in Northern California. In this thoughtful, deeply-reported piece, she writes about efforts of Wampanoag members to tell the overlooked story of their tribal history – and reclaim land, language, and spiritual traditions passed on by their ancestors.

War and Soldiers Have Changed Over a Century. Chaplains Remain a Powerful Force. In this commentary piece for Veterans Day from Religion News Service, Joe Drape of The New York Times writes about the history of military chaplains as well as a new U.S. Army program called the Spiritual Readiness Initiative, designed to help soldiers connect spirituality across many faiths, and no faith. The chief Army chaplain introduced the program, which includes a three-day retreat.

U.S. Supreme Court Weighs Religion’s Place in the Texas Death Chamber. Jolie McCullough of The Texas Tribune tells the story of the case brought by John Ramirez, a 37-year-old sentenced to die in Texas for killing a store clerk in 2004. “This summer, with an execution date set, Ramirez asked if his pastor could lay hands on him and pray over him as he died,” McCullough writes. “Texas prison officials denied the request.” A central question of the case: do the condemned have a right to “religious comfort”?

Bentleys to Buddhas: Vintage-Car Shop Restores Buddha Statue. Peter Smith of the Associated Press reports on an interfaith effort to rehabilitate a fiberglass Buddha belonging to the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center, which practices the Theravada vehicle of Buddhism common in Sri Lanka. The Pennsylvania auto shop that repaired the statue said the Buddha "was a big hit" with customers.


#Interfaith is a self-paced, online learning opportunity designed to equip a new generation of leaders with the awareness and skills to promote interfaith cooperation online. The curriculum is free to Interfaith America readers; please use the scholarship code #Interfaith100. #Interfaith is presented by IFYC in collaboration with


more from IFYC

Many content creators use their platforms to build community beyond their brick-and-mortar congregations, to dispel myths, break stereotypes and invite people from diverse faiths to get a glimpse into their lives.
IFYC's innovative online learning experience, #Interfaith: Engaging Religious Diversity Online, offers lessons on how to approach others online in a way that leads to building bridges.
Lessons from Thich Nhat Hanh, the person who nominated Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize and encouraged King to speak out against the war in Vietnam.
What Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh taught me about the power of mindful breathing through art.
A scholar of democratic virtues explains why Dominican monk Thomas Aquinas’ thoughts on hope are relevant today.
From covering spirituality in Silicon Valley to writing an online newsletter about her own journey to Judaism, reporter Nellie Bowles keeps finding innovative ways to reflect on religion and technology.
Six ways religious and spiritual leaders can help the internet serve their communities right now.
At the request of his editors at Religion News Service, Omar Suleiman writes about waiting with hostages’ families.
Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill, the PNBC leaders said they plan to lobby Congress in March and register voters weekly in their congregations and communities.
King’s exasperation at self-satisfied white Christians holds up a mirror that is still painfully accurate today.
A day before the U.S. Senate was expected to take up significant legislation on voting rights that is looking likely to fail, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s eldest son condemned federal lawmakers over their inaction.
The congregation’s rabbi, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, is particularly well connected to the larger interfaith community and on good terms with many Muslim leaders.
For Martin Luther King Day, an interfaith panel reflects on the sacredness of the vote and the legacy of Reverend King.
In his new book, Princeton historian Julian E. Zelizer reexamines the life of Abraham Joshua Heschel and finds lessons for interfaith political activism today.
King drew criticism from Billy Graham, who told journalists that he thought King was wrong to link anti-war efforts with the civil rights movement.
Some are calling out historical injustices the church has carried out against Native Americans, even as others find their faith empowering.
IFYC’s Vote is Sacred campaign launched on January 13. Faith leaders, public intellectuals, activists, and organizers are joining to advocate for an inclusive, nonpartisan interfaith approach to restoring and protecting our democracy.
One out of five Muslims is in an interfaith relationship, surveys suggest. But few imams are willing to conform the traditional Muslim wedding ceremony to their needs, couples say.
In her popular podcast series, Corrigan invites guests to wonder about 'the elephant in America's living room': belief and religion. 'I hope I have a hundred more conversations like these in 2022 and beyond,' she says.
In his annual address to the Vatican's diplomatic corps, the pope stressed the individual's responsibility 'to care for ourself and our health, and this translates into respect for the health of those around us.'
The very people who have been subject to the worst of the United States have embodied its best.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.