The religious landscape in the U.S. is changing. Our country is getting more religiously diverse. This change calls for a fundamental change in the way we approach interreligious understanding and outreach. In my very first blog entry, I had outlined the tremendous efforts that are happening in Minnesota. Since then, these efforts have definitely increased by many orders of magnitude.
On January 3, 2014, I got an opportunity to attend a meeting that was called by the leadership of the Dar Al Hijrah mosque that was impacted by the fire in Minneapolis that has so far claimed three lives. It was heartening to see about two dozen representatives from various religious congregations in attendance, and that included representation from the Minnesota Council of Churches, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), the United Theological Seminary, the Islamic Resource Group (IRG), the Islamic Center of Minnesota among many others.
The outpouring of genuine and heartfelt support toward the members of the mosque and toward those who were impacted by the fire was simply heartwarming. The Dar Al Hijrah mosque is a major partner in interfaith relations in the Twin Cities. It was obvious from the tremendous show of support from various faith-based groups that these efforts do produce strong and long-lasting relationships.
So, how is the religious landscape changing in the United States?
In its December 12, 2013 edition, the Washington Post published maps that were based on the report “2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study” produced by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.
One of the maps reproduced below illustrates some interesting stats:
(2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study)
- Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in 20 states.
- Judaism is the largest non-Christian religion in 15 states.
- Buddhism is the largest non-Christian religion in 13 states.
- Hinduism is the largest non-Christian religion in 2 states.
- Baha’i Faith is the largest non-Christian religion in 1 state.
Minnesotans can be proud of their track record of being at the forefront of interreligious initiatives. These positive interactions strengthen our country’s social fabric and help to enrich one another in profound ways.