Minneapolis and St. Paul share a history that is deeply shaped by Scandinavian, German, and Irish immigrants and a culture profoundly influenced by Protestant Christianity. Given this milieu, the Twin Cities with a combined population of 667,000 may seem an unlikely home for a global community. But in an era of increased globalization, the Twin Cities have become a microcosm of a diverse religious America. Local public schools regularly send home communication in four languages—Somali, Hmong, Spanish, and English. Anyone who thinks of “A Prairie Home Companion” when the Twin Cities come to mind may be surprised to learn that Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to over thirty mosques, eleven Hindu temples, and one of the ten largest synagogues in the United States.
In many ways, the Twin Cities’ interfaith infrastructure defies easy classification. There are a number of campus-based initiatives—both institutional and student-driven—in addition to umbrella organizations such as the St. Paul Area Council of Churches’ St. Paul Interfaith Network and Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness. Interfaith efforts spearheaded by individuals such as Dr. Frank Burton, of Circle of Reason and the Secular Bible Study, also contribute to the richness of the city’s interfaith landscape.