Cultivating Pluralism at a Critical Time

Dear Friends,

We greet you at the end of 2016, an extraordinary and critical year for the Pluralism Project and for America’s public and political commitment to pluralism. At a time when many Americans are uncertain about the strength of our identity as a multireligious and multicultural nation, the Pluralism Project looks with confidence to the vision, the reality and the future of the American experiment. It is a vision based in the Constitutional promise of religious freedom, a blueprint for the very diversity that is ours today. As we move forward, we do so with renewed resolve, and a new mission that will inform our ongoing, and increasingly important efforts: The Pluralism Project: Engaging, Educating, and Strengthening the Next Generation of Religious and Civic Leaders in the United States.

For more than two decades, the Pluralism Project has studied the changing religious landscape of our nation. Our confidence in pluralism –the engagement of our differences in the common project of citizenship—is based on grassroots research among the religious communities of the United States. We have come to know the diverse and dedicated faith communities of our nation through their hospitality, their energy, and their commitment to American values. Our vision is deeply informed by the enduring principles and practices of the world’s religions and, above all, by the emerging infrastructure of interfaith engagement that is strengthening local communities across the country.

We are confident that these gains cannot be reversed by the forms of fear and division that have come to the surface in the turbulence of the election and its aftermath. Engaging our diversity in cities and towns across the country will continue to be the strength of our democracy. Our goal is to support and encourage the next generation of civic and religious leaders as they strengthen the bridges and networks of relationship that will serve a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent society.

In his most recent book, Thomas Friedman has forcefully mentioned Harvard’s Pluralism Project and our insistence that pluralism is not mere diversity, but engagement with that diversity, not relativism, but the encounter of commitments based on dialogue across differences. “Being able to embrace and nurture this kind of true pluralism is a huge asset for a society in the age of accelerations,” he writes. “Indeed, I would go a step further and say that the return on investment on pluralism… will soar and become maybe the single most important competitive advantage for a society –for both economic and political reasons.”

We ask you to invest in the promotion of pluralism. The Pluralism Project engages students, teachers, and citizens in tackling the most important issues of our time. But the project of pluralism must engage all of us –and we invite you to that engagement in the New Year that lies before us.

Sincerely,

Dr. Diana L. Eck
Director, The Pluralism Project

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