Inter-religious Dialogue Meets Capitol Hill, By David Gray

Posted on February 23rd, 2009 | Filed under Faith and Politics

The New America Foundation was founded on the principle that a new generation of public thinkers could help demonstrate that crossing ideological boundaries to form a radical center can help solve public problems. 

From this philosophy, we have branched out to form the Religious Center Initiative at New America to think about how people can cross religious boundaries to solve public problems.

We are a think tank, working on policy issues.  One wouldn’t normally think of such an organization when one thinks about inter-religious dialogue.  Yet inter-religious dialogue has important public policy components.  We are most concerned about strengthening the social fabric of America.  In case of another terrorist attack, America must have sufficient relationships between faiths to keep groups in dialogue, rather than from attacking each other.

We believe good, sound public policy requires a diversity of ideas, inputs and perspectives.  As such, we advocated in editorial pages for the creation of a Congressional Interfaith Caucus to bring different faiths together for the purpose of supporting public policy. 

Then on June 6, 2008, we hosted a briefing on religious observance in the offices of the U.S. House of Representatives for House staff with representatives of the three Abrahamic faiths talking about their perspectives on religion and the workplace.  It was very well attended and brought an important spiritual perspective to the U.S. Capitol. 

We believe firmly that inter-religious dialogue has an important role to play in America’s public policy organizations and are proud to be leading that charge at New America for the think tank world.

Let me close in true Washington fashion by quoting from one on my own articles about the importance of inter-religious dialogue that shows what we believe about the subject and why we are involved in it at New America:


“One of the benefits of interfaith dialog is that in order to explain our faith to others we must come to terms with what we actually believe, and that often brings us to a deeper place in our own faith… When we are engaged in conversation with people from others faiths we learn about ourselves and clarify our beliefs as we explain our religion and often we develop a sense of pride as a result…Faith that is tested, contrasted and explained is faith that is most likely to be internalized and to endure.”

Blessings to all those involved in this Journal and to the dialogue for which it stands.

The Reverend David Gray directs the Workforce and Family Program at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC and is the Senior Pastor of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland.  

One Response to “Inter-religious Dialogue Meets Capitol Hill, By David Gray”

  1. Lance Woodruff says:

    I am an American, a believing and practicing Christian, who edits Thailand’s ‘face’ to English-language audiences through the Thai News Agency website. In that context I find myself informing and moderating the understandings and relations of Buddhists and Muslims in a time of insurgency and fear.

    The quote from your own article on one of the benefits of dialogue is most helpful and pertinent.

    Thank you, and thanks to another Rev. David Gray, in Manchester, UK, for sharing your new publication with me.