This Week in Interfaith America: A News Roundup

Ava DuVernay, center, in an episode of "Home Sweet Home." Photo by Casey Durkin/NBC

Every week, we bring you our favorite pieces that tell the story of Interfaith America. This week’s selections include hopeful stories about a promising program that gets college students to bridge divides and an effort by Latino Catholics to improve vaccination rates against COVID-19. We also chose pieces that ask interesting questions, like: Can a Catholic-themed horror series respect religion? And is there a Torah of Ted Lasso? 

We'd love your suggestions as we build next week's list. We look for pieces that offer interesting perspectives on religious diversity or shine a light on those who see religious pluralism as an opportunity, not a cause for despair.  Email us at InterfaithAmericaEditor@ifyc.org.

1. More than Talk: Why a Bridge-Building Effort is Spreading on College Campuses

This Interfaith America piece tells the story of Bridging the Gap, an IFYC program that gets students from different colleges to meet, talk, listen, and solve civic problems together. The program is expanding to 20 campuses this year.  “It’s a model of what’s supposed to be happening in Washington, D.C.,” one college administrator said.

2. What American Christians Hear at Church

Casey Cep, a staff writer at The New Yorker, draws from historical examples and a recent Pew study to consider what American Christians are hearing from the pulpit. Long, short, streamed online or delivered in person, sermons “remain the core of worship,” Cep writes. “They also represent a curious literary genre.”

3. Families of Different Faiths Swap Houses, Lives in Ava Duvernay’s “Home Sweet Home”

“About one in five Americans say they seldom or never interact with someone who does not share their race or ethnicity,” Emily McFarlan Miller and Adelle Banks write for Religion News Service. DuVernay’s show promises to bring people together.

4. Dante Stewart is Rekindling Black Theological Imagination

A new memoir, “Shoutin’ in the Fire: An American Epistle,” is generating buzz in literary circles and top Christian magazines. Written by Dante Stewart, a graduate student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, the book is inspired by Black writers including bell hooks and James Baldwin. Stewart tells Josiah R. Daniels of Sojourners, “I wanted my book to help you explore and imagine the possibilities for the beauty of what we know of ourselves — the beauty of Blackness.”

5. ‘A Safe Space’: Black Pastors Promote Vaccinations from the Pulpit

“More than 80 percent of adults in New York City have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine,” this piece explains, “but there are significant racial disparities in the vaccination rate.” Liam Stack of The New York Times explains how Black pastors are working to change that.

6. Latino Catholics Are Among the Most Vaccinated Religious Groups, Here’s Why

While people seeking religious exemptions to vaccine mandates continue to make news, Alejandra Molina of Religion News Service reports on another important story connecting religion and COVID-19. She describes how religious groups are mobilizing to make sure more people get vaccinated. “Latinos in the U.S. have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Molina writes, but Latino people of faith are working hard to protect their neighbors. “If we're not proactive and take the vaccine, the miracles are not going to just come," one immigrants’ rights activist said.

7. What Ted Lasso Can Teach Clergy

Writing for Religion News Service in a piece suitable for Lasso fans of all faiths, Jeffrey Salkin ponders the spiritual lessons of Ted Lasso and finds Talmudic wisdom in the folksy ways of a fish-out-of-water American football coach.

8. Game night celebrates Hispanic, Jewish cultures

Paradise Afshar of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution brings us an engaging story about young Hispanic and Jewish professionals coming together to play loteria, a bingo-like game. “I think it’s a wonderful idea to show the intersectionality of Jewish and Hispanic cultures, especially as I am a Jew from Brazil,” said Melissa Harari, who sits on the American Jewish Committee’s steering committee board in Atlanta.

9. My Guidebook to Japan

This essay's sub-headline is "Lessons from Thoreau Learned in a Distant Land.” As a young scholar, Pico Iyer studied in Japan, where he read poetry and met a Zen Buddhist master. While on this journey, Iyer writes for The American Scholar, Thoreau’s brand of American spirituality resonated the most: “It was Thoreau who’d told me that I could find the whole world in a single room—and indeed do so better in a single room than a large mansion, by learning to look closely at everything around me.”

10. Midnight Mass’s Respect to Religion is Revolutionary for Horror

For The Decider, Kayla Cobb writes a smart reflection on the popular Netflix series, “Midnight Mass,” drawing on the history of Hollywood’s fraught relationship with religion.

This story was first published on Oct. 15, 2021.

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

A new book, “Praying to the West: How Muslims Shaped the Americas,” by Omar Mouallem, may meet the needs of a new generation of Muslims.
For Christians, Advent is a period of preparation for Christmas and beyond. The Rev. Thomas J. Reese writes that perhaps fasting during Advent can be the Christian response to the consumerism of the season.
Interfaith holiday events can be a great way to show respect for others and make everyone feel included. Need some tips? Our IFYC colleagues have you covered.
Studies show that American religious diversity will only continue to grow and that Thanksgiving dinners of the future will continue to reflect this “potluck nation.” We all bring something special to the table.
IFYC staff members share what they're listening to, watching and reading that inspires an attitude for gratitude this season.
How can you support Native Americans and understand important issues and terminology? This Baylor University sophomore is here to help.
Aided by an international team of artists, author Salma Hasan Ali turned her viral blog about Ramadan into a new handmade book.
A symposium hosted by the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago focused on the intersection of Indian boarding schools and theological education as well as efforts to uncover truth and bring healing.
This week's top 10 includes stories on faith and meatpacking in the Midwest, religion in the metaverse and an interfaith call for peace in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The two lawmakers appeared at "Race, Religion and the Assault on Voting Rights," the inaugural event at Georgetown University's Center on Faith and Justice.
Religion & Politics journal interviews the author of a new book on the impact of growing religious diversity in the American Midwest.
Five interfaith leaders share readings and resources that inspire them, give them hope and offer solace in turbulent times.
“There is a huge gap between the religiosity of clinicians and the religiosity of the clients,” mental health counselor Shivam Gosai says. “This gap has always been there. Mental health professionals are not always reflective of the people we are serving.”
Part of what I found so beautiful about our conversation is that we both agree that American pluralism is not simply a pragmatic solution to the challenge of a diverse democracy, it is also a kind of sacred trust that God intends us to steward.
The author, a Hindu and a Sikh, notes that faith plays a subtle yet powerful role in the show -- and creates space for more dialogue.
Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, is the first Native American to serve as a U.S. Cabinet secretary.
The average congregation these days is small — about 70 people — but the majority of churchgoers are worshipping in a congregation of about 400 people.
The metaverse has dramatic implications that should make all of us sit up, lean in, and claim our role in shaping the worlds within the world that is being created.  
Decades of silence, stigma, and structural barriers to treatment and testing have allowed the epidemic to spread, claiming the lives of far too many of our Black friends and families.   
Mawiyah Bomani, a Tarot reader in Louisiana, used to make her own Tarot cards until she found a deck celebrating spiritual practices throughout the African Diaspora. "I hoped and wished to find a deck with me in it," she says.
In this week's round up, a Buddha gets a paint job, a Black interfaith social media account goes viral, and Indigenous activists speak out.

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.