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INTERFAITH ALLIANCE STATE OF BELIEF RADIO APRIL 27, 2013 RUSH TRANSCRIPT: Eboo Patel Click here for

video Click here for audio [REV. DR. C. WELTON GADDY, HOST]: Eboo Patel is a popular Muslim writer and organizer who founded the Interfaith Youth Corps in 2002. As a sociologist, he brings together a scientific and a spiritual foundation for peaceful cooperation among diverse groups all across this country, and boy do we need some of that right now! Eboo, welcome to State of Belief Radio, thanks for being with us again. [DR. EBOO PATEL, GUEST]: Welton, thanks for having me. [WG]: I think of those of us outside the Muslim-American community - with the exception of those who might incorrectly be perceived as being Muslim - it's almost impossible to truly understand the fear that came along with hearing that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects identified as being Muslim. Almost 12 years after 9/11, Eboo, did you find yourself hearing that from people around you, and did you find yourself thinking that yourself? [EP]: Welton, absolutely. I mean, I am calling this being twice terrorized. And of course, the first part of being terrorized is just the idea that you can be running in a marathon or cheering at the sideline and be a victim of a heinous act of violence. My brother-in-law runs marathons, and we've cheered on the sides of the Chicago Marathon before, and I can imagine that well, unfortunately. And of course, the second part of that terrorization is the recognition that people might well be looking at Muslims - myself, my wife, my mother, my two children through the prism of an act of terror. And I have to say, my five-and-a-half-yearold got into a bit of tussle on the playground the other day, and he said the other boy called him a name. And he still won't tell me the name the other boy called him. Now, who knows, it could be something random like, you know, Zayd has big ears - which he would have inherited, unfortunately, from his father! But maybe it was that he got called a "radical muslim" or a "terrorist" or something along those lines. In any case, these are things that are in the back of my mind, and they are all to real. [WG]: I think your Huffington Post article, "Three Reasons Interfaith Efforts Matter More Than Ever," really clarifies this moment in time for those of us engaged in interreligious dialogue and activism. Let me just invite you to talk about those reasons.

[EP]: Right. Well, you know, the way I've been thinking about this is, boy, we have to build bridges that are stronger than the bombs that other people might throw. And there's a lot of reasons for why, but the three that I give in this op-ed which you can just Google, "Three Reasons Interfaith Efforts Matter More Than Ever" - the first one is that interfaith efforts help align people's own diverse identities. You know, everybody in America is some sort of hyphenated hybrid, and sometimes those identities feel like they're in opposition, or in tension, rather than in alignment or in harmony. And when you're in a conversation where people are talking about how being Irish and Catholic and American, or Jewish and Secular Humanist and American, and those different identities are mutually enriching, you start to have that conversation within your own self. And so that's one of the reasons: to help make our diverse internal identities mutually enriching rather than mutually exclusive. A second reason is that we need people who are able to bring people from different backgrounds together. And not only did that happen in that beautiful service in Boston, that beautiful interfaith service, but think about all of those doctors and nurses from all different religious backgrounds operating together in hospitals in Boston. Right? That's a profound interfaith effort, and we need interfaith leaders who are able to organize everything from religiously diverse operating rooms to interfaith volunteer projects to interfaith services that take place after tragedies, whether it's Newtown or whether it's Boston. And the final reason is that, you know, one of the things interfaith efforts help us do is separate the worst elements of a community from the broader elements. And so if the only time you ever think or hear about Muslims is when the evening news comes on and its reporting on some terrorist incident, then you might well look at my sons who are three and almost six through the prism of terrorism. But if you know plenty about Muslims, then you are far more likely to look at terrorists who twist Islam as outliers and actually in violation of the tradition than as somehow representative. So for those three reasons, I think that those of us who are organizing interfaith programs, and that's just about everybody listening to this show, which is one of the reasons I love you doing this show, Welton, I think we ought to feel emboldened to stand up, to speak out, and to build bridges. [WG]: Eboo, thank you. I found real wisdom in your describing so much of what we do every day as interfaith action. It's not just organizing that's overtly identified as that; it's many, many encounters that most of us have during a given day that reinforce not just the acceptance of others who may have different beliefs and faith traditions, but the essentialness of these people. Talk about that. You have begun by talking about it in what happened in the hospitals; but drive home, if you will, the point that all of us are a part of this coming-together movement. We don't have to be officially designated for it.

[EP]: Welton, I think that's such a great question. You know, the Catholic Church calls this the "dialogue of life." It's simply the wonderful reality of living in a society in which people who orient around religion differently all contribute. And one of the things we ought to be proud of as Americans is that the United States was the first nation to believe that people coming from different parts of the earth, speaking different languages, praying to God in different ways, could come together and build a diverse democracy. And standing by that and advancing that project is more important now than ever. And one of the reasons is because there are not a few voices and actors out there who want to destroy diverse democracy. And we have to build those bridges stronger than the power of those bombs. And the second reason is that all over the world, whether it's Iraq, or Kenya, or Afghanistan or South Africa - societies are becoming more diverse. And they need examples of nations where diversity works well. And so whether you buy your morning coffee from an Arab Muslim, you buy your afternoon sandwich at a Jewish deli, you go to a restaurant owned by Evangelical Christians, you listen to a radio station whose your favorite DJ is a Secular Humanist - we just ought to be aware of how people who orient around religion differently are contributing to our society, and to be in celebration of that, and recognize that it doesn't fall from the sky. We people are advancing that, and we do it by the way that we speak, by the bridges we build. [WG]: Eboo, I think I am a realist, as I know you are, and some people may think this is a little optimistic, but I know there are voices desperately trying to divide us at this moment and destroy progress. But I have the distinct impression that the vast majority of Americans have grown in their understanding of diversity, and that we are handling this tragic event in Boston much, much better than we handled 9/11. [EP]: I think that's right, Welton, and I'm an optimist in a big way - and an optimist not just, I think, by constitution but also because I live in America, and I'm a Muslim. And both of those identities tend toward optimism. You know, we have Muslim organizations that are far more comfortable speaking in public right now, very loudly and articulately decrying terrorism, being able to articulate how Islam speaks directly, beautifully to mercy, to peacefulness, to pluralism - that didn't exist in the same way after 2001. Many Muslim organizations back then were inwardly-oriented and didn't have the same kind of eloquence - certainly the range of media contacts - to be able to get on CNN, to be able to get on NPR, and to articulate a mainstream view of Islam. And I think America depends so much on people who stand up for those who are not like them. So whether that's Michael Bloomberg during the Ground Zero Mosque madness of the summer of 2010 or people like you, Welton, who have been doing this for decades and decades and decades - we have folks saying that it is un-American, un-Christian, un-Jewish, un-Humanist to paint all of our Muslim neighbors with a negative brush. And I think it's really important that there are Muslims who are saying, "We've got to do a better job to make sure that our religion doesn't get twisted into a form that leads to violence." And I think that sense of, while the

mainstream community cannot be held responsible for the actions of terrorist groups or terrorist incidents that are lone wolves, as the case of the most recent incident in Boston, we can do better. And that's the conversation that's happening. [WG]: I want to pick up on the media statement just a little bit: what role do you think social media has played in all of this - in this latest incident? Has it helped or has it hurt? [EP]: My most recent characterization of social media, or the Internet, is that it's a cesspool on Mars - at least most of it is. So look: if you read the Huffington Post religious blog, which I think I think is a really terrific blog, you're going to read beautiful and optimistic things. If you read Pamela Geller's "Atlas Shrugs" blog, you're going to read ugly and hateful things. So it's just like anything else in life: it just depends on which part of the pool you're playing in. But unfortunately, I think when it comes to the Internet is that the anonymity does invite the worst of many people. But there are definitely parts of it that I think are elevating rather than swamp-drowning, shall we say. [WG]: Since the attacks, what has Eboo Patel been saying to members of Interfaith Youth Corps? [EP]: It really is that our work is more important than ever, and for those three reasons that I outlined in the piece: that it helps to align people's internal identities; it helps to build cooperation between people from diverse religious communities; and it helps us to separate the worst elements of a community recognize that they are exceptions and, in fact, violations, from the mainstream community. [WG]: Eboo, how can all of us who are not Muslims be most helpful to our Muslim sisters and brothers during this time? [EP]: I think it's really important to tell stories of individual Muslims you know who are models of mercy and pluralism and dignity. And I think that that matters more than any abstract concept - no matter how important those abstract concepts of mercy and pluralism are in Islam - saying, "You know, my doctor is a Muslim, and I've known him for 40 years. And he helped me through this really difficult time," or, "My colleague at my accounting firm is a Muslim, and she's the one who's got her door open and you can walk into her door and she'll help you with an issue whenever possible, and it's never something that she takes credit for - it's always something that is done for the good of her colleagues." So to tell stories of individual Muslims in our lives, I think, is really important. [WG]: There is no substitute for interpersonal relationships between people who are different. And you've just underscored that, and I know that you work on it all the time.

[EP]: And you know, the social science bears this out. Robert Putnam and David Campbell's recent book "American Grace"; the idea that America is a relatively tolerant nation - although I'm not crazy about that term, it's certainly better than intolerant - because so many of us know people from other backgrounds. And I think this is how Catholics went from being a group that experienced dramatic prejudice in America to one that is now viewed very favorably; the same with Jews; increasingly about the LGBT community; and I think it's going to be the same with Muslims. The more that we get to know Muslims personally and have admiration for them in our personal lives, the more it will lead to broader acceptance of them within the society and the recognition that people who do terrible things in the name of the tradition are violations of that tradition and not representatives of it. [WG]: Eboo Patel is a popular Muslim writer and activist who founded Interfaith Youth Corps in 2002. His Huffington Post article is important reading. It's titled "Three Reasons Interfaith Efforts Matter More than Ever." You can look up Eboo and find a lot of writings from him that you will find very helpful as you introduce yourself or go deeper into the literature of interfaith relationships. We'll have that article, by the way, on stateofbelief.com if you want to go there to look it up. Eboo, I'm always grateful for the work that you're doing, and to take time out of a really busy schedule to be with us on State of Belief Radio evokes a lot of thanksgiving. I appreciate you doing it. [EP]: Appreciate you, Welton, appreciate all your listeners. State of Belief is based on the proposition that religion has a positive and healing role to play in the life of the nation. The show explains and explores that role by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in America the most religiously diverse country in the world while exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion for partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government for sectarian purposes. Each week, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy offers listeners critical analysis of the news of religion and politics, and seeks to provide listeners with an understanding and appreciation of religious liberty. Rev. Gaddy tackles politics with the firm belief that the best way to secure freedom for religion in America is to secure freedom from religion. State of Belief illustrates how the Religious Right is wrong wrong for America and bad for religion. Through interviews with celebrities and newsmakers and field reports from around the country, State of Belief explores the intersection of religion with politics, culture, media, and activism, and promotes diverse religious voices in a

religiously pluralistic world. Author of more than 20 books, including First Freedom First: A Citizens Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy leads the national non-partisan grassroots and educational organization Interfaith Alliance and serves as Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana. In addition to being a prolific writer, Dr. Gaddy hosts the weekly State of Belief radio program, where he explores the role of religion in the life of the nation by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in America, while exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion for partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government for sectarian purposes. Dr. Gaddy provides regular commentary to the national media on issues relating to religion and politics. He has appeared on MSNBCs The Rachel Maddow Show and Hardball, NBCs Nightly News and Dateline, PBSs Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, C-SPANs Washington Journal, ABCs World News, and CNNs American Morning. Former host of Morally Speaking on NBC affiliate KTVE in Monroe, Louisiana, Dr. Gaddy is a regular contributor to mainstream and religious news outlets. While ministering to churches with a message of inclusion, Dr. Gaddy emerged as a leader among progressive and moderate Baptists. Among his many leadership roles, he is a past president of the Alliance of Baptists and has been a 20-year member of the Commission of Christian Ethics of the Baptist World Alliance. His past leadership roles include serving as a member of the General Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, President of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Chair of the Pastoral Leadership Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and member of the World Economic Forums Council of 100. Rev. Gaddy currently serves on the White House task force on the reform of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Prior to the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Dr. Gaddy served in many SBC leadership roles including as a member of the conventions Executive Committee from 1980-84 and Director of Christian Citizenship Development of the Christian Life Commission from 1973-77. Dr. Gaddy received his undergraduate degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee and his doctoral degree and divinity training from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.