Since 9/11, Louisville Has Seen Ongoing Expansion of Interfaith Efforts

September 10, 2006

Source: The Courier-Journal

On September 10, 2006 the The Courier-Journal reported, In some American cities, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were followed by anti-Muslim violence. Not so in Louisville. The most dramatic incident here was a graffiti spraying at a mosque -- which was quickly cleaned up, with the help of non-Muslims who took flowers to the site. Instead of violence, the attacks of 9/11 prompted an unprecedented rush of interest in Islam locally, with religious groups and others inviting Muslims for interfaith discussions, according to those involved. Five years later, those efforts are quietly continuing and even expanding -- although some say it's time they go into greater depth and involve more young people. 'In Louisville, the interfaith relations really have increased, if anything,' said G.A. Shareef, a Muslim and a member of the board of the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, which sponsors interfaith activities. Shareef, who estimates he has given 200 talks to civic groups in the past five years, cited such signs as the growth of community groups' promoting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Last week Highlands Community Ministries held its annual September interfaith dinner and dialogue at the Hindu Temple of Kentucky, with talks by members of five religions -- Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. Before 2001, said Stan Esterle, the ministries' executive director, the annual event would include Christians and Jews -- the long-established religious groups here. But 9/11 brought home the reality of greater religious diversity, Esterle said. 'We have had our own horizons broadened,' he said."