In America, approximately 89 percent of people identify with a religion. Faith traditions affect the way people interact with each other and with those not of their religion.
Interfaith organizations aim to bridge the gap between what is known and unknown about the many faith traditions and beliefs of our religions. Highlighting the similarities of our faiths instead of our differences narrows that gap and broadens our understanding of our neighbors and friends. Here is a list of a few of such organizations in the area.
Mississippi Faith Based Coalition
1770 Ellis Ave., Suite 205, 601-346-7503
The Mississippi Faith Based Coalition is a multi-faith, nonpartisan coalition of churches, ministries, community-based organizations, governmental agencies, businesses and concerned individuals working together to serve the region in multiple areas. Some of its partners include SAMHSA, Catholic Charities and Stewpot.
The coalition's services range from budget management to mental-health and substance-abuse counseling. The organization is an HUD-certified housing counseling agency and can help with credit restoration. Another one of its services is its Workforce Development and Job Training Program, which aims to train and place unemployed individuals in stable, full-time jobs.
Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference
P. O. Box 68123, Jackson, MS 39286-8123
The Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, or MRLC, is a statewide organization dedicated to promoting diverse communities. Its mission is "to make it possible for men, women and children of good will to respond to the violence, hatred and destruction, with concern, compassion and construction." The Rev. Carol Borne Spencer leads MRLC, which focuses on human needs through advocacy and the political process.
During the Civil Rights Era, the MRLC's Committee of Concern helped rebuild 41 churches that were damaged or destroyed by bombs. Today, the organization continues to do social ministry projects such as disaster relief in times of need and helping found and develop UMC's Pastoral Services Department. "MRLC reaches across lines of race, religion, sex and age in its effort to be a voice for the voiceless in Mississippi. In doing so, we often are an alternative voice to the oppressive and dominant edicts of some religious groups."
Mississippi Interfaith Alliance
The purpose of the Interfaith Alliance is "to promote the positive and healing role of religion in public life through encouraging civic participation, facilitating community activism, and challenging religious political extremism." It is an organization that stands for both freedom and faith, promoting legislation that protects the boundary between religion and government and facilitating interfaith dialogue.
The Interfaith Alliance of Mississippi meets the third Sunday of every month at 3 p.m. The meetings alternate between the Fellowship Hall in Gulfport and the Islamic Center in Biloxi. For information, email [e-mail missing] or contact Gigi or Glen at 228-864-5700 or Kimberly at 228-497-5791.
Institute of Interfaith Dialog
900 E. County Line Road, Suite 201A, Ridgeland,769-251-0074
The Institute of Interfaith Dialog's stand is that we can achieve peace on the planet within the foreseeable future. Its vision is to unite communities so that the spirituality of all individuals can be heard in a space that is free of dogmatism, criticism, oppression and fear.
Turkish Muslim scholar, writer and educator Fethullah Gulen inspires many participants in IID's activities. Texas-based IID organizes academic and grass roots activities such as conferences, panels, symposia, interfaith family dinners and cultural exchange trips. IID has branch offices in five states and representatives throughout the South-Central United States.