Atlanta Assembly Addresses Interfaith Dialogue and Public Policy

March 2, 2002

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On March 2, 2002, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that "about 60 Atlanta community leaders from across the religious spectrum met... to get to know each other's faiths... The assembly was an outgrowth of a group started by President Eisenhower in the 1950s. The national American Assembly... meets biannually to debate and form consensus around U.S. policy... The regional assembly is new. Its first topic was planned long before Sept. 11 --- back when leaders decided to tackle the increasing diversity of communities in Atlanta... The first step toward working together is to understand each other, said Imam Khalid Siddiq of Al-Farooq Masjid... Some of the values brought to the workplace and public spaces by the religious community 'used to be assumed,' said Dudley Rochelle, a Christian lawyer, mediator and arbitrator who specializes in labor law. 'It seems they've almost been excluded with concern about separation between church and state,' Rochelle said. 'And now we're seeing a swing back'... A significant religious presence in public policy does not mean people water down their beliefs to the lowest common denominator, she said. 'It means we each bring our own strong and passionate beliefs into the forum'... Every assembly participant 'will now go back into our own communities, churches, associations and personal groups and try to spread this word of commonality and faith,' predicted Subash Razdan, a Hindu broadcaster and engineer who previously was chairman and president of the National Federation of Indian-American Associations, representing 2 million Indian-Americans."