Philadelphia is America’s fifth most populous city, with 1.5 million residents. In the heart of the city, historic sites include Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed, and the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of freedom especially during the push for the abolition of slavery. William Penn, a Quaker, founded Philadelphia as a place where religious freedom was paramount. Today, the Arch Street Friends Meeting House is part of a religious landscape that now includes sixteen Islamic centers, five Jain organizations, and eight Buddhist Temples.
The city’s thirty-five interfaith organizations speak to the lasting impact of Penn’s vision on “the city of Brotherly Love.” The desire to promote inter-religious understanding can be seen throughout the city in a myriad of ways—from the numerous multifaith programs at local universities to several interfaith hospital chaplaincies to coalitions tackling poverty and environmental issues. The Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation, profiled here, is a striking example of the power of grassroots leadership within the interfaith movement.