Interfaith Activity in Dutchess County, NY

June 15, 2003

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal


On June 15, 2003 the Poughkeepsie Journal reported that "Dutchess County [NY] truly is a melting pot of religious faiths -- and religious tolerance... 'In many ways the county is very diverse and it breeds tolerance,' said Michael Tori, a religion professor at Marist College... The county may be nearly three-fourths Roman Catholic, but not one faith dominates, he said... 'For the most part, there has been a very good-hearted attempt at tolerance among these diverse groups,' said the Rev. Bruce Chilton, rector of St. John the Evangelist in Barrytown and a religion professor at Bard College. He is also executive director of the Institute of Advanced Theology. 'When you consider the extent of diversity there is, there is remarkably little friction...' 'Interacting with people of other faiths makes you reflect,' Chilton said. 'To be in peaceful dialogue with others is extremely healthy. Any community... is enriched by the wisdom of all those varying traditions...' While there were numerous reports of bias against Muslims nationwide following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there was little of that in Dutchess, Tori said... The Dutchess Interfaith Council, which includes many local clergy, works hard to foster tolerance... The 96-member council was established in 1972, an outgrowth of the Dutchess County Council of Churches, which at the time was an organization of only Protestant churches. The council, which seeks to bring congregations to-gether to address community issues, has a mailing list of 214 congregations."