Duluth Interfaith Dialogues

Divisions within our society are getting worse. As members of the faith community, we all believe that the solutions to these divisions and rising tensions lie in our faith traditions. It has become more urgent now for us to reach into our traditions to find those solutions and to share them with our loved ones and those around us. As part of the solution, the Islamic Society of Twin Ports (ICTP) invites you and your faith community and leadership to participate in the Duluth Interfaith Dialogues that will address these problems head-on in collaborative, friendly and enlightening discussions over Zoom. Each month, 3-4 panelists who represent their faith communities will offer what their traditions say about the problems we’re facing, and we invite the public to ask questions and interact with our panelists. The discussions will be recorded and shared with the public on an accessible website. Based on a survey conducted among the members of several faith communities, selected topics were chosen each month and the proposed schedule for the dialogues are shown below. We invite you to send a representative of your church to be a panelist for any of the topics below. Please email nhassan@ictpmn.org if your faith organization is interested in participating in the Duluth Interfaith Dialogues and mention which topic you would like to become a panelist. Each panelist is given 15 minutes to share their traditions related to the topic followed by Q&A from the audience. All sessions will be held on Zoom using this link (https://us06web.zoom.us/j/93758294079?pwd=ODRPQ3NxaFlRU1ltWkpIb1ZFQWlvQT09)

 

Saturday, December 4th, 7-8:30pm Duluth Interfaith Dialogue Episode 1 - Public shaming, cancel culture and handling disagreements

Saturday, January 8th, 7-8:30pm Duluth Interfaith Dialogue Episode 2 – What does God mean to you? How our relationship with God solves our societal problems.

Panelists

 

Rabbi David Steinberg - Temple Israel

Pastor Lon Weaver - Glen Avon Church

Rev. Bruce Johnson - Unitarian Universalist Church

Nik Rushdi Hassan - Islamic Center of Twin Ports

Moderator - Pastor Josh Blair, First Lutheran Church

Please contact Nik Hassan at nhassan@ictpmn.org if your organization is interested in placing a panelist for this session

Saturday, February 12th, 7-8:30pm Duluth Interfaith Dialogue Episode 3 – Between God's Forgiveness and God's Justice

Panelists

 

Stake President David Charles Gore -- Duluth Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dr. Naeem Chaudhry - Islamic Center of Twin Ports

Pastor Dianne Loufman - First Lutheran Church

Moderator - Elyse Carter-Vosen, Temple Israel

Saturday, March 12th, 7-8:30pm Duluth Interfaith Dialogue Episode 4 – In a complicated world, how to choose right from wrong, good from evil?

Pastor Jeffery Davis - Concordia Lutheran Church

Nik Rushdi Hassan - Islamic Center of Twin Ports

Moderator Chaplain Bob Barnes - St. Mary's Medical Center

 

We all want to be a “good” person, but in today’s complicated society, that doesn’t seem to be that easy. A 2018 Gallup Poll found that 86% of the Americans say that the state of moral values was only fair or poor and 77% said it was getting worse. As in any society, the leadership bears some responsibility and during that time the direction in which moral values were heading weren’t exactly bright. What is right and what is wrong gets muddled leading to disastrous results. When cartoons satirizing Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were published, some Muslims reacted by rioting and burning cars. Satirizing sacred symbols may be blasphemous, but what did the owners of the torched cars have to do with anything? Often, doing what is right is not that simple. How are we supposed to cut through the noise and do what is right? How can faith communities help society clarify these issues? We will start addressing these questions with the help of our moderator, Chaplain Bob Barnes and panelists. After the two panelists have presented their points, participants will be organized into smaller Zoom break rooms to discuss with their groups the topic.

Saturday, April 9th, 6-7:30pm (Please note different time because of Ramadan) Duluth Interfaith Dialogue Episode 5 – Challenges to organized religion

Pastor Jeanine Alexander - First United Methodist Church

Bishop Amy Odgren, Northeastern Minnesota Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Nik Hassan, Islamic Center of Twin Ports

Moderator: Bruce Johnson, Unitarian Universalist Church

Surveys after surveys have shown that people’s interest in religion is declining. The Gallup poll found that in 1971, 96% of US adults identified themselves with some religion whereas in 2021 only 79% did with 21% with no religious preference and 25% say that religion is not very important. When asked if they had attended a religious  service in the past seven days, in 1958, 49% had, while in 2021 only 29% did. In the UK, 29% (nearly a third) say they have no religious preference and only 29% of Christians say they attend church at least once a month. The pundits point at several reasons for such a trend including scandals, sexual harassment and abuse alleged at certain religious institutions, congregation splitting arguments concerning same-sex marriage, and lately the relationship between religion and politics, in particular right-wing partisanship. Partisanship may be encouraging to certain groups in the church who see such right-wing support advantageous to members with a certain political leanings but certainly does not inspire confidence in organized religion to the opposite side. Americans’ faith in the government which have reached an all-time low is inextricably connected to the decline in confidence in organized religion and Americans’ view of the honesty and ethics of the clergy. The panelists will discuss such challenges and offer their thoughts and solutions.

Saturday, May 14th, 7-8:30pm Duluth Interfaith Dialogue Episode 6 – Role of religion in social justice

Pastor Robert Barnes - Chaplain, St Mary's Medical Center

Rev. Jim Mitulski - Peace Church
Fred Friedman - Temple Israel

Moderator: Nik Hassan, Islamic Center of Twin Ports

Please contact Nik Hassan at nhassan@ictpmn.org if your organization is interested in placing a panelist for this session

When we think about social justice and religion, we don’t necessarily place them in the same basket. Social justice is often perceived to be at odds with religiosity. Authoritarianism and repression is associated with one which is what the other is fighting against. Does this narrative deserve its current reputation? There’ve been cases in the past that reflect the sense that religious values have no place in determining public policy or legal judgments. Judges have been asked to recuse themselves if found that they hold fervently to religious beliefs. The recent controversy surrounding the decision by the majority of the Supreme Court on Roe vs. Wade bears witness to the difficult relationship between religion and social justice. Social justice itself is defined differently depending on who’s been asked. Perhaps we can start with Merriam-Websters’ definition that social justice is a doctrine of egalitarianism, which means a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs. Starting with this definition, one might think easy to relate religion to such beliefs, but it is the same religious practices that fought against this belief across the country, providing justification for numerous injustices, so we are back where we started.

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